Mary Meeker has released her latest technology trends presentation. As usual, it’s important and rich stuff.
I’ll pull out some highlights for the future of education and technology.
At a meta level, it’s fascinating to see how investors think about technology and society. There’s an important political stratum that emerges.
The mobile revolution continues. Americans spend more time on smartphones than with laptops and desktops, and mobile ad spending has reached parity with desktop. Mobile even impacts enterprise software, as Meeker’s team sees enterprise users demanding interfaces and service as easy as those from mobile apps. But smartphone growth is slowing down even further, and the number of phones shipped could plateau soon.
The move away from desktops and laptops continues to drive new interface development. One piece of the mobile scene is rising interest in users interacting via pictures rather than text (search, image recognition, AR). Related is the growth of voice interfaces (Google Assistant, Alexa).
Meeker turns to gaming this time, and hits some familiar notes (huge size of field, women playing, social, etc.). esports are booming. Meeker also discovers gaming for learning. This could trigger a new round of investment in edugames.
Media: streaming continues to win in music and video.
Generational differences in terms of technology use persist, as I keep reminding educators. “Chasm increasing” is Meeker’s phrase:
Similarly, age differences in terms of technology and health care:
Cloud computing keeps on growing. Meeker sees user concerns shifting from security to worries about lock-in and flexibility.
The report focuses attention on three nations for their major impact and future potential.
- China as global trends exemplar. Some are familiar to other nations, like the shift from manufacturing to service sector jobs, internet growth, mobile growth, privatization/neoliberalism, gaming, search, streaming, etc. Then there are unique technology trends, like the huge popularity of WeChat, Weibo, and Tencent, or on-demand bike sharing.
- In comparison to China, India is also growing, if behind the curve, hobbled in part by mobile costs. Meeker identifies some unusual Indian features, such as the use of Aadhaar for identification, which increasingly anchors digital access and financial services, and rising interest in short form, on demand (user influenced?) video. The report also sees digital tutors (on mobile devices) as helping students do better in a too-often overstretched school system.
- There are some final observations about American political economy that illustrate thoughts among the investor class – i.e., the 1% of the 1%. The report sees America’s overall finances in trouble, suffering from too much debt and social services spending. It uses a model of analyzing the nation as a business, “USA Inc.” And it calls for more immigration – for skilled tech jobs.
The report dwells on health care, seeing it as a digital success story in progress. Slides emphasize the growing digital collection of and patient access to data, touching on electronic health records, mobile devices (phones, wearables), and analytics. Weirdly there’s just a glance at life science research problems, without looking into either the publication crisis or the advent of Meta.
I’m struck by how much isn’t in the report. ebooks, blockchain, Trump, drones, AI – this is a sampling with limits.
(thanks to Steven Kaye)