Oct 082010

To prove just how plugged in I am, last night I was reviewing a Morgan Stanley report that was presented at the CM Summit–New York City in EARLY JUNE.  (How much could have changed, really?)

In any case, the report is a typically astounding accumulation of data about the macro-economic, stock market, manufacturing, purchasing, and other drivers of the Internet economy.  This, of course, is Mary Meeker’s wheelhouse.  Truly, the charts have a depth and intensity about them that demands the analyst’s talk track.  Insights abound.

As for me, without the benefit of Mary’s talk track direction, my own observations don’t necessarily run toward practical business strategy aha’s.  Well, that’s not entirely true.  There are those.  The one’s that stand out to me are not.  Here’s what I mean:

  • A compelling line chart shows how the diffusion of mobile Internet has massively outpaced in speed and overall size all prior forms of (desktop) Internet.  That’s the funny thing about records:  they tend to get broken.  Twenty and thirty years ago, Ben Johnson and then Donovan Bailey set new records in the men’s 100 metre.  There was, just like the in the diffusion charts, successive incremental development over the years.  Only last year did Usain Bolt crush the existing pattern.  It’s impressive how fast and large mobile Internet is.  But it begs the question:  could it have been like this without the prior, expanding developments of the desktop Internet.  Like Isaac Newton, “If I have seen farther, it is only because I was standing on the shoulders of others . . .”
  • iPad among the fastest consumer computing devices ever. No doubt that at 28 days to reach 1MM units sold it blew past everything else but the game toys (Wii and DS).  It’s velocity was about 1/3 of the iPhone’s and 1/12 or so of the original iPod.  Again, what if there hadn’t been an iPhone or iPod to create the conditions for the iPad speed?  What if Apple hadn’t created their amazing retail structure?  What if the Blackberry (~300 days many moons ago) hadn’t tilled the ground for smartphone devices?  The iPad’s uptake velocity is amazing but the conditions are different.  What’s the learning?
  • The iPad tablet is more like a desktop than like a smartphone as far as Internet page views go.  D’uh!  Having the data there is great but it should hardly be a surprise.  The iPad looks and feels like a more effective and efficient laptop PC.  It’s genetic relationship to the smartphone (iPhone) would be the same as our genetic relationship to a Rhesus monkey:  similar but an entirely different scale and class.
  • I really like the the user device usage evolution over the past 30 years (“From Input . . . to Output . . . to Sharing”) slide.  I have no doubt that an anthropologist would have a field day with the subtext, which I read as back to the future.  Text to touch and keyboard to fingers go regress the medium back to pre-industrial and pre-Gutenberg times.  Oral history through recorded history back to oral history would be a parallel in my academic field.  Manual to mechanical to manual as far as ergonomics and industrialization go.  The best row is the one that shows the device usage going from “Creation” through “Communication” to “Consumption + Sharing”.  First, it lines up nicely to the Western socio-economic norm of the consumer society–a theme that somebody wanting a grad thesis should jump all over.  Second, it begs the questions, “Consuming and sharing what?  Who’s creating the stuff to be consumed and shared?”  After all, unless it’s permanent recycling, somebody’s got to be making the stuff–even if it’s just words.  By the by, wasn’t it just recently that the leitmotif of the Web was “everybody’s a creator now?”

There’s more.  The report, if you can find it, is well worth the read.  But that’s all I’ve got for now.

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