Jun 042012
 
What does the Internet hold for business in 2012

Generally it’s not a good idea to have nearly a hundred slides in a presentation, but Mary Meeker’s overviews of the tech industry are so rich in data it’s impossible not to spend a weekend looking over the entire sldieshow.

Last week Mary gave her presentation at the All Things Digital conference and as usual she identified a range of trends and issues in the technology industries.

Smartphone upsides

Still the early days of smartphone adoption, with 6 billion mobile phone subscriptions worldwide but only 954 million smartphones activated.

This adoption is driving mobile revenues with income growing at 153% per year. Although as she shows later, this is not necessarily good news for everybody.

Print media’s continued decline

A constant in Mary’s presentations over recent years the key slide in has been ad spend versus usage across various mediums.

In this year’s version we still print still vastly over represented with 25% of US advertising while TV remains static, although Henry Blodget at Business Insider thinks the tipping point might be arriving for broadcasters.

Online’s thin returns

One of the things that really jumps out is how thin onlie revenues really are. In annual terms services like Pandora and Zynga are making between 6 and 25 dollars per active user over a year.

These tiny revenues indicate the problem content creators have in making money on the web, after the gatekeepers like Pandora or Spotify have taken their cut, there isn’t much left to go around.

Facebook and Google are also encountering problems as users move to mobile where revenues are even smaller than those from desktop users. This is constraining both services’ earnings growth.

Disrupting markets and governments

Mary’s presentation goes on to look at the disruption web and mobile technologies are bringing to various markets – it’s a good overview of whats changing right now and the products driving the changes.

It’s not just markets that are being disrupted with Mary also looking the US’s budget position and entitlement culture. This in itself is a massive driver of change which will have a deep effect on our lives regardless of where we live.

Are we in a bubble?

Mary finishes up with a look at whether we’re in a tech bubble or not.

Her view is that we are and we aren’t – there are silly valuations of companies in the private market however the poor performance of tech stocks on the stock market indicate the public aren’t being fooled.

One telling statistic is the only 2% of companies have accounted for nearly all the wealth creation of the 1,720 US tech IPOs between 1980 and 2002. There’s little to indicate much has changed in the decade since.

The optimism in funding new businesses is based in the disruption they are bringing to markets and industries – you only need one eBay or Google in your portfolio and you’re a legend, if not filthy rich.

Both the economic and technological changes are disrupting our own businesses and this is why its worth reading and understanding Mary Meeker’s presentations if only to be prepared for the inevitable changes.

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