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.
The internet is already full of regurgitations and analyses of Meeker’s deck. Can you spot the clichés in each one?