The Pace of Re-Imagination: We All Live in Dog Years Now
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iOS; tablets caught on faster than smartphones. Instagram added 10 million new users in the first 10 days after its acquisition by Facebook. Later the same month, video sharing service Viddy added 17 million new users in just 7 days, after Facebook began highlighting members’ videos in their news feeds. So far, advertising dollars aren’t following users into the mobile arena, but Meeker thinks it’s only a matter of time. By studying the successes of Japanese mobile gaming companies like GREE and CyberAgent, she says, mobile developers could be making more money than desktop Web publishers within 3 years.
But don’t be surprised if it happens sooner than that. Change itself is changing: it seems to be speeding up.
Saturday Night Live spoofed this trend way back in 2005, in a skit where Steve Jobs introduced the tiny “iPod Micro,” only to announce seconds later that it had been made obsolete by the even smaller “iPod Pequeno,” which was displaced in turn by the microscopic “iPod Invisa.” In reality, even Apple doesn’t work quite that quickly—but the company has managed to change our expectations nonetheless. The re-imagination that Meeker highlights, driven by “new devices + connectivity + UI + beauty,” would itself have been impossible to imagine back in the early 2000s, before Apple loosened the U.S. wireless carriers’ old death grip on mobile innovation and proved once and for all that customers will shell out for great design. Now we feel disappointed if Apple doesn’t come out with a completely new iPad every April and a new iPhone every October.
And so it goes. If you’re looking for reasons to be optimistic about mobile and Internet innovation, just turn to page 85 of Meeker’s deck, where she lays out all the reasons why the “Magnitude of Upcoming Change Will Be Stunning.” In addition to the trends I’ve already mentioned, she points to forces like the emergence of social networks as platforms for distributions, an economic situation in which the penalties for risk-taking are low, and the new “plug & play” environment for entrepreneurs, who have greater access to capital, technology, services, and marketplaces than ever before.
I’m in my mid-40s now and I wouldn’t mind staying around for another 50 years or so. In dog years, that’s about three centuries. I’m pretty excited to see what transformations are on the way—but then, I write about change for a living. The rest of you will just have to get used to it.