Mary Meeker’s latest 197-slide Internet Trends report is not bullshit. While some of the stats on the slides are questionable, overall it’s a pretty interesting, international grab-bag of facts. My issue is with what comes next — media and analyst cliché predictions based on those facts.
In the tech world, predictions are predictable. There’s a cliché for each stage of technology adoption. Read my chart from the bottom up to follow the adoption curve.
I’ll illustrate these with slides from Meeker’s talk.
1 New categories emerging: no coherent predictions
When you read a tech story about a new product like self-driving cars or Slack, the message is “just keep an eye on this.” No one makes predictions about stuff this new, it’s too early.
2 Early adoption: overblown predictions
Once things like drones catch on, we’re hard-wired to see them as the start of a trend. Amara’s law states that we overestimate the speed of early adoption.
3 Mass adoption: disruptive predictions
Once a technology gets going, we can’t resist predicting how it will disrupt a whole industry. Like AirBnB, for example.
4 Majority adoption: “the end of x” type predictions
Once a technology reaches half of us, the pundits declare the “end of” something (digital cameras or TV viewing, for example). They’re right, but it takes a lot longer than they think.
5 Slowing growth: predictions about acquisitions
Growth can’t last for ever. As profits drop, analysts speculate about competition and acquisitions.
6 Saturation: predictions about the next big thing
Tech analysts and journalists get bored talking about what’s already here, and feel they must talk about what might arrive next.