Mary Meeker’s 2016 internet trends report

So the most awaited internet trends report for 2016 by KPCB is out. Obviously, each slide is a gem. As I read through the report, I couldn’t help but notice how the next wave of technology will be fuelled primarily by Google, Facebook, Amazon, Uber, Alibaba, Tesla and a handful of other startups. Glaringly, Microsoft is nowhere to be seen, but for a mention of Bing in Voice interfaces. Even though Microsoft is technically not an internet company, it’s absence, even as a passing mention deserves to be noticed. Apple suffers nearly the same fate, but for it’s dominance in mobile, the desktop Mac is nowhere to be seen in the report.

Combine this with the latest from BusinessInsider on the slowing growth of high margin devices, I cannot fathom the disruption that’s going to hit companies such as Apple and Microsoft in the years to come. Though Microsoft is technically not in the business of making high margin devices, they are toying with that idea and a majority of their software still runs on PCs. The report also provides a confirmation bias for some of my thoughts about the emergence of voice as an interface. Voice as an interface makes a lot of sense today not because of the convenience ( we can obviously talk faster than we type ) but in terms of cost savings. You don’t need a device with a high processing power or a retina display to get most of your day to day stuff done on voice. As time goes by, speech recognition technology will cross the 99% barrier to make it’s use ubiquitous.

However, I still cannot clearly imagine a fully voice driven device that can replace today’s smartphone or even the smartphone just shrinking to a tiny earpiece with a weeklong battery life. How do we deal with choices ? Like for instance, search. I still need a visual aid to show me choices, as I don’t want to listen to a voice stream of choices. That begs the next question, what if there is no need for choice. What if applications get so intelligent that you can just command and get the job done without having to scourge through different choices, whether in search, e-commerce or travel. Amazon echo is already proving itself in the E-commerce space. Perhaps the same can work across the other transaction verticals as well.

So a query like ‘Find me the cheapest way to get to Thailand next week’ need not result in multiple options. The response can be as specific as ‘Air Asia on Monday AM leaving at 6, satisfies all your travel needs, shall I go ahead and book’ . That’s how perhaps Voice will change the future of transactions. I am yet to picture how payments will work in this voice only world. It’ll also lower the barrier of entry for the older generations and for the billions of people still not on the internet. A 20$ device that can help you with day to day transactions will be a game changer. I don’t think that day is very far.