Each year Mary Meeker, a venture capitalist with KPCB Partners and renowned industry analyst, publishes her remarkable assessment of the important trends in high technology. This year’s report, released last week, gives some clues as to what the future holds:
Smartphone sales in the U.S. are slowing. Growth has fallen from 28% last year to 10% year over year. No longer are we upgrading to new phones as often. There are fewer reasons for buying the latest models, with changes year to year becoming so minor. While the market share for Android phones is growing faster than that of the iPhone, Apple is still making much of the profit because the prices of Android phones are dropping quickly.
We are now using our phones more for messaging and less for calling. Once used mostly by teens, messaging is finding new uses, even in business, moving from short social conversations to more expressive use and to business communications. For example, Hyatt Hotels uses messaging with its customers, allowing them to check room availability, make reservations, and order room service.
If you haven’t noticed, we’re also getting more advertising on our phones and tablets. Mobile advertising has increased dramatically, with ads on Facebook up 59 percent and on Google 13 percent. Mobile advertisers use our phones to track our habits and to provide more relevant ads, but at the loss of privacy.
In fact, if you go to Google’s dashboard that lets you view your interaction with all of the company’s apps and services, you will find a map that shows exactly where you’ve been every day since you’ve started connecting with them.
Next Page: You’ll never guess which apps are actually growing, while phone apps overall are in decline.
When it comes to apps on our phones, we’re using fewer of them. 80% of a user’s time on mobile is spent in just three apps (Facebook, Chrome, and YouTube in the U.S.), with the average user utilizing only 12 apps. Most of us have all the apps we need. Last month, the most popular 15 apps had 20 percent fewer downloads than the month before. The big exceptions are Uber and Snapchat, whose downloads have doubled compared to a year ago.
What else is significant in high tech? There’s real innovation occurring in the car industry, and the U.S. has the potential to become the global hub of automotive technology once again.
Many of the automobile manufacturers, including German, Korean, Chinese, and Japanese companies, have formed alliances or have established research centers in Silicon Valley. They are working in areas such as driverless automobiles, electric cars, battery technology, and advanced communications systems.
The U.S. is leading the revolution in the automotive industry because we have two of the world’s largest automotive manufacturers, GM and Ford. We also have the component makers of chips and sensors, we have new connectivity technology, and we lead the world in mapping. The U.S. is also the leader in driverless car research and fleet innovation with Uber and Lyft.
Another big trend? We’re using images and voice more and more, and typing less. Within five years, a majority of searches will be done by voice and images. The use of voice has made a huge leap with Apple’s Siri, Google Voice, and Amazon’s Echo. Speech recognition has improved dramatically and is now more than 90% accurate compared to 70% in 2010. Searches using Google Voice are up 35 times compared to 8 years ago.
Voice is so popular because it’s more efficient than typing, is hands-free, and even vision-free. While we type at 35 words per minute we can speak at 150 words per minute. Products like Amazon’s Echo, a table top device that let’s you interact with voice, has sold over a million units. Expect similar products from Apple and Google soon.
While I’ve just touched on a few of the insights, the full 213-page slide deck is available as a free download here.