What you can learn from Internet guru Mary Meeker


The annual Internet Trends report from renowned technology analyst Mary Meeker is eagerly anticipated, highly regarded and very influential. She has just released the 2014 version. What insights does it contain for Australian small and medium enterprises?

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Meeker, now a partner at venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, delivered her observations and predictions at the Code conference in California in late May. Her 164 pages of slides show statistics across a vast range of the IT industry.

One of the most interesting statistics, and one I have not seen before, illustrated Meeker’s contention that “Every new computing cycle typically generates around 10x the installed based of the previous cycle.”

She claims that in its heyday in the 1960s the mainframe computer population numbered about one million. This was followed in the late 70s by the minicomputer with a population of tens of millions. Then came the PC (100 million plus), desktop Internet, (one billion plus), and most recently the mobile Internet with more than 10 billion users today. (Meeker bundles in this category, mobile phones, tablets, MP3 payers, cameras, and more).

This begs the question: what next and when should business start to register the trend and think about capitalising on it. Meeker’s slide deck does not pursue this line of enquiry: it moves on to talk about mobile advertising.

Meeker considers a number of “re-imaginings: but for her the "biggest re-imagination of all" is “people enabled with mobile devices and sensors uploading troves of findable and shareable data.”

For example, she says the number of photos uploaded per day to the most popular sharing sites - Flickr, Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook and WhatsApp - has grown sixfold since 2012 and is now running at 1.8 billion per day!

Clearly any company that can get favourable mentions injected into this torrent of data being shared by billions of users every day would likely enjoy considerable increase in sales as a result.

As regards more traditional means of marketing - advertising, Meeker predicts a switch from broadcast to messaging networks, and adverting revenue continuing its shift from print to mobile devices.

She sees online shopping for everyday goods like groceries continuing to increase with a big emphasis being on free shipping and same day delivery. She says that, in the US, ‘free shipping’ now applies to 47 percent of online grocery transactions, up from 35 percent five years ago.

Online ordering of meals and booking of restaurants is also growing very rapidly. Meeker cites the example of one US company, grubHub, that has tripled the number of restaurants it serves to 29,000 in just 12 months and that is now returning, on average, $US35,000 per year to each of these restaurants.

She talks of an “Internet Trifecta” in the world of online commerce, where ‘content’ - from both consumers and professionals - is combined with ‘community’, adding “context and connectivity created by and for users” and with ‘commerce’: “products tagged and ingested for seamless purchase.”

As an example she cites US home design and decorating site www.houzz.com (which boasts a quarter of million followers on Google+), Houzz has just raised $US150m in venture capital funding and has increased its valuation sevenfold to $US2.3b in just 17 months. The site brings together a huge database of ‘inspirational’ photos on home decoration with editorial guides and articles, the services of professionals (it has almost half a million portfolios and reviews), discussions and products.

Now there’s something to aspire to and be inspired by.



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