Mary Meeker, partner at KCPB has released her annual Internet trends report. The tech industry plays pretty close attention to this report every year as Meeker tends to be spot on the trends shaping technology and behaviour.
I highly recommend reading the full report and digesting some of the stats and information. I've taken a stab at pulling out a few of the key topics I have found most interesting, outlined below.
Changing Nature of Social Networks
Currently there is huge growth in image and video sharing sites, with a large fragmentation to different platforms. These are also evolving as a tool for communication. Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, Snapchat, and Vine are all experiencing rapid growth, which is also being driven away from Desktop only to multi-platform access.
On top of this, we are definitely seeing social networks evolve from just broadcast to include private sharing. So instead of sending out a large broadcast message to a large audience, consumers are creating more frequent interactions with smaller groups of close contacts, with the expectation of real-time connectedness.
In essence then, we switched from your phone book pre-Smartphone to the Facebook era social friend graph, and are now seeing a switch back to value in the graph created by your phone book. Snapchat's valuation and WhatsApp purchase price are for this reason - everyone is scrambling to gain access to your contacts.
- Over 1.8 Billion photos uploaded and shared everyday. This is up 50% over 2013 in just the first half of 2014.
- WhatsApp 400MM MAU's in 4 years. 50 billion messages a day.
- Snapchat 1.2 billion messages a day in just 2 years.
The implications for brands on social media then are huge. There may be a big swing away from consumers broadcasting to their friends as frequently in favour of smaller more intimate recommendations at higher frequencies. Both positive and negative knock on effects.
Unbundling of Apps
When web apps first emerged, they took advantage of the desktop and were multi-purpose. Think about Facebook, it contained everything you would want to do on one interface.
When mobile apps emerged, they initially copied this format, being a multi-purpose extension of the web app, a swiss army knife that often buried important functionality under layers.
We have now entered a third phase, were apps are being unbundled to form a more simple and singular focus.
Think about Facebook. The mobile app has now spun off simple, functional, single-purpose versions of the experience - Messenger, Instagram, Pages etc.
There is also an emergence of "invisible apps" which are always on in the background without the need to open the app.
Apps therefore are becoming service layers. They are not for idle browsing, but are purpose built to solve a particular need or pain point.
This has also combined with the emergence of user interface as a competitive advantage. Both services and consumer behaviour have changed, and often it is being driven by simple and beautiful UI.
- Yellow Pages to Yelp.
- Hotel Phone Call to Airbnb.
- Hailing a Cab to Uber.
- Traffic Jam to Waze.
- Satellite Radio to Spotify.
- Pressing Buttons on a TV Remote to Voice Activated Amazon Fire TV Remote.
The implications for brands or products are clear - it should work simply, solve a problem, and provide a single service or entertainment.
Re-Imagining a Vertical
Meeker touches on a very interesting framework for a vertical being disrupted as the 'Internet Trifecta' - basically generating a critical mass of Content + Community + Commerce.
In this instance, these three items intersect and include:
- Content - Provided by both consumers and professionals
- Community - Context and Connectivity is created by users and for users
- Commerce - Products are tagged, discovered and ingested for seamless purchase
The example given is Houzz, a platform for home design, decorating and remodelling. Their framework looks something like this for their platform:
- Inspirational Photos - 3MM
- Editorial Guides & Articles - 10k
- Service Professionals - 400K
- Discussions - 800k
- Products: 2.5MM
When thinking about a platform or entrenched vertical, try and frame things by these three elements.
The disruption of traditional TV only continues. There are a few big trends that are continuing that are of note:
- Screens are Proliferating - With Smartphone and Tablets within easy reach, why would you watch an un-targeted TV commercial when you can access content on the second screen
- Traditional Remote Control Disappearing - Voice activated remotes or a switch to Smart TV's mean less utilisation of the traditional remote device
- Apps Replacing Channels - The Broadcasting model is switching to interactive content, built around a niche.
- Internet TV Replacing Linear TV - Watch when you want it, how you want it. Evolution of audience.
Point four is interesting here for the emergence of the fan base versus an audience.
An audience tunes in when they're told to. A fan base chooses when and what to watch.
An audience changes channel when their show is over. A fan base shares, comments, curates and creates content.
YouTube is showing how powerful niche fan bases can be. YouTube stars really are the new movie stars when you see some of their viewer stats.
The other crazy trend is the growth of Twitch. If you thought the idea of people sitting around watching other people play video games was a ridiculous idea, Twitch has absolutely disproved it. Check out their stats:
- 45MM MAUs vs 8MM three years ago.
- 12 billion minutes watched per month.
- 900k broadcasts per month.
- Top live video streaming site by volume in the USA (44%). ESPN is 6%.
Content can be a powerful thing.
The last item is probably the biggest single shift - the way we are creating oceans of new data through mobile devices and sensors. You really need to see the stats to get a handle on just how big this is. I recommend reviewing the report to see this first hand.
Take a look at the rest of the report here.