Mary Meeker's 2015 Internet Trends / by Sushant Sreeram



I am guessing by now you would have at least queued download of the 200-odd slide collection by Mary Meeker unassumingly called '2015 Internet Trends Report'. The 'report' part almost makes it sound like a trooper back from a tour regaling others of tales and things 'out there'.

This report is, however, about things happening right here and things you and I are part of. So go ahead and download it if you haven't already. Even if you have little interest in this 'internet thing', the report still makes for good non-fiction reading!

And when a trends report is 196 slides long, I am tempted to attempt distilling it. So here's my take on some of the points covered in Mary Meeker's presentation.

1/ Slide 6: The only company from the Top 15 Public Internet companies in 1995 that made it to the 2015 list is Apple.

Talk about 'survival of the craziest'. Crazy enough to ride the wave [personal computing], accelerate the wave [smartphones] or in the case of the iWatch, even create the wave.

2/ Slide 10: Here's part of what explains the entrepreneurial activity in IN today.

1. Of all the top countries by internet users, India continues to show the highest growth of 33% YoY. In comparison, the next highest is China at 7%

2. And of all the top countries by smartphone users, India continues to again show the highest growth of 55% YoY. Brazil at 28% comes in second

Corollary: Thanks to the appendix, got to know that each month 2.5 billion GB of data flows across mobile globally. For context, the total data across the entire internet in the entire 2000 year was 1/30 of this. Global internet traffic has been doubling every 3 years over the past 15 years, think of how challenging maintaining the infrastructure for this would be. So the next time that HD video takes time to load on our phone, let's just breathe.

3/ Slide 14: We today spend ~ 6 hours every day consuming content on the internet compared to < 3 hours per day in 2008. 

Guess where that extra 3 hours is coming from? The footnote on this slide perhaps has the answer - "time spent with each medium includes all time spent with that medium regardless of multitasking"

4/ Slide 16: I have a submission to make: The time-spent/ad-spend index annoys me every time I see it. 

We have all been hearing about the inevitable demise of Print advertising [because only 4% of time spent compared to ~20% ad spend] and I wonder:

Let's say I want to make an investment decision. Would I give more credence to a 10 minute conversation with a renowned investment expert or 2 weeks spent reading online?

Time spent doesn't take into account efficacy of the medium. Why do eCommerce brands in India spend a couple of crores on full front-page ads for just a day when the same money can buy the YouTube masthead for a cool couple of weeks?

5/ Slide 53: Forget Facebook, Messaging Apps = Internet.

First heard the theory of messaging apps becoming gateways to the internet from a senior manager at a messaging brand couple of months ago and it blew my mind. Looks like the WeChat playbook is going to play out globally [esp. countries like India] soon enough

6/ Slide 54: Contextual notifications have the power to make low-frequency apps stick. 

Check out the notification I received from Foursquare a couple of days ago when I was at the Rio Resort in Goa.

Before this, I had launched the Foursquare app maybe 6 months ago.

Addendum: As apps start moving towards niche use-cases to meet [think Swarm and Foursquare], will we start relying on too many apps that not only have to predictively satisfy needs but will, more importantly, become 'data pipes' feeding into an interface layer? If yes, then how do apps avoid running the risk of becoming data APIs? Additional context here -

7/ Slide 64: Is Airbnb the new travel review powerhouse?

Globally, Airbnb has already scaled up to 14Mn reviews in the last 12 months. My estimates are Tripadvisor, founded 8 years before Airbnb, gets ~25Mn reviews globally every year.

8/ Slide 68: Is Twitter finding a loyal audience amongst youth?

Interpreting the two histograms on the left and right as 'Ever Used' and 'Most Used' respectively and then arriving at an index of 'MU/EU' suggests Twitter's building a highly solus audience in the US:12-24 bracket [Index: 0.75]. How are they doing it? Would love to hear.

9/ Slide 70: The consumer facing retail ends of banks are probably going to cease. 

The things that retail customer use banks/ATMs for are going mobile [cash will soon not exist any more, cheques are being scanned and submitted through banking apps, loans will be approved via mobile through credit score repositories]. Will banks then become secure storage facilities for high value items [lockers in Indian parlance?]

10/ Slide 76: 18% of US household spends dedicated to Transportation.

i.e., 1 in 5 dollars is spent of moving from A to B. The whole transportation concept, to me, seems grossly inefficient. And no, I am not talking about efficiency in how soon you can get a cab but more fundamentally questioning the essence of transportation. [A] Is inefficiency the result of a fragmented private ownership of means, or [B]Is inefficiency due to the social construct [moving from A to B to do some work at B to earn money to spend at C]

11/ Slide 111: Confusing extension with replacement.

So millennials would much rather Slack [i.e., use a cool online workplace collaborative tool] their colleagues than talk to them in person? As someone who has tried all such tools and with the benefit of hindsight, let me say: tools are great an making some parts of interactions more efficient but to think they can replace conversations entirely is dangerous thinking.

12/ Slide 114: Managers says millennials today seek high pay, high level of responsibility and high level of self expression as the key motivators while millennials are saying it's meaningful work and sense of accomplishment.

Is our [the millennial generation] apparent narcissism and egosyntonic behaviour leading us down a path where we begin to showcase what we believe we ought to show the world [reflected in proclamations such as 'meaningful work is the most important work value'] oblivious to what truly drives us - high pay - which is not a bad thing to seek provided I can deliver commensurate value?