Apps for the next 3 billion people

One of the most important things that will happen in the next 5 years is that another 3 billion people will be getting a smartphone. They will join the already 2 billion people who currently use one. This is HUGE. It can’t be stressed enough what a big opportunity this is. We’ve never lived in a world where it will be possible for 5 billion people to communicate and share ideas. It will be the biggest opportunity EVER. That’s right, ever. Businesses used to talk about how many millions of users they had, now they will talk about how many billions. It’s actually hard to fathom what will come with so many people having access to the world in the palm of their hand because it has never been done before.

We already know that mobile will be the platform that brings together these 5 billion people, so mobile apps will play a large role. This is why I still think we are at the dawn of what’s possible with mobile apps. Some think the app ecosystem is too crowded and competitive and there’s little opportunity. I won’t deny that it will be tough to be one of the few apps that gets to 1+ billion users but the opportunity to be one of those apps has never been better.

If you want to know what types of apps that might attract over 1 billion people, you might want to look to recent history. In the last couple years, WeChat, WhatsApp, Line, and Kakao Talk have all amassed over 100 million users. What makes these apps so successful is the underlying purpose they serve, to connect people. Yes they are all messaging apps and it’s arguably a bad idea to build another messaging app since this area is so competitive already. But it’s shortsighted to think messaging apps are the only types of apps that connect people. Twitter, Facebook, Uber, Lyft, Postmates, etc. all at their core, connect people.

Connecting people will be extremely valuable as we start to transition from the industrial age to the information age.[1] Information is the currency of the world now. Soon, 5 billion people will have access to the world’s information in their pockets. We will need ways to get this information, present this information, interact with this information, grow this information, and share this information. By connecting the next 3 billion people, we will spur innovation and new ideas never before considered.

If that doesn’t get you excited to build the future, I don’t know what will.

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[1] For more information on this transition, check out USV’s Albert Wagner’s blog here