Trends: Social is a Feature


You have to have it to play, and it's not differentiating. It's what we call "dial tone", expected. I just don't think it's over, as he says.

Instead, it's a time of great opportunity for new applications and tools because the platforms have stabilized. There is plenty of room and work to be done on archiving and data capture/analysis/utilization.

The query set is what matters, and mobile will be accelerating the development of the next generation technologies.

This 25-minute video of a recent talk by Elevation Partners Director and Co-Founder Roger McNamee, a 29-year veteran in the tech investing arena, outlines his 10 hypotheses for tech investing [25" running time with 20" of questions]

I will focus on a couple of the hypotheses especially:

(1.) Microsoft and its demise creates opportunity for other companies that are looking to gain an entree in the enterprise. The decline of Windows unlocks revenue.

  • I just read about Apple opening a B2B app store for volume licensing to cement the brand's momentum in corporations.
  • Smart phones now count for half of all Internet connections. As a result, the very essence of the way content is delivered needs to change.
  • Opportunity: Create the first media experiences that work.
  • Lesson: Natural monopolies in technology never last very long.

(2.) Google is strategically in a very difficult situation. They have been too successful, and the result of their success has been a pollution of their product. Index search is peaking.

  • Over the last five years, you have watched products like Wikipedia, Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, LinkedIn, Match.com, Realtor.com have all emerged to address search problems that were handled poorly in Google. Have your search patterns been more focused?
  • If you add all those up today, they are more than half of all searches.
  • People do 1% of index searches on a smart phone vs. a laptop.
  • Google is not going away: They own YouTube and gmail, which will no doubt continue to be good products.
  • Google commoditized and then took 80-90% of the economic value of web-related content. The idea that everything out there is free for the taking, that people should be entitled to it.

(3.) Apple came along with a different idea: iTunes and the App Store, which threatens the open source nature of the web. People are spending money on hardware, instead of on software.

  • Why is Google pursuing social in the first place? I think search and advertising sounds about right.
  • Search: If it's true that people have come to rely on other tools and networks for search, then Google will want to challenge those.
  • Advertising: A direct play to take attention away from Facebook, which is earning social ads.
  • In this context, the conversation on identity makes sense. Two words: Data integrity. Elevate the author in search, find better content that way, and get to know her social graph in one move.

(4.) HTML5 is the new programming language of the Web. It's the first major upgrade to the infrastructure of the Web in a decade. And it will be disruptive.

  • It enables new models of Web experience. Developers will embed audio and video directly in Web pages. Sites will be more differentiated.
  • The prediction is that HTML5 will be disruptive and a game changer for publishers. Engagement coming right to you.
  • It drives the development costs way down.
  • More about HTML5 here.

(5.) All innovators and business people need to understand what tablet computing means for their business. The iPad will even be more disruptive than the iPhone.

  • Apple is about to sell 100MM iPads.
  • He likens the iPad to the IBM PC – and claims there has not been another company like Apple since IBM in the 1970s.

(6.) Next Web architecture is the cloud and many screens. People have many devices and want access to content in all of them, especially the one in their pocket.

  • Mobile is a major opportunity for start ups as Microsoft, Google, and Facebook have not succeeded in extending their business models to mobile.

(7.) The first wave of the social Web is over. And Facebook has won.

  • I actually think we're just getting started on this point.
  • Social is more than a feature. When you flip the question, it becomes a benefit. Now that the platforms are established or stable, and the users are there, there is opportunity to build on top of them.
  • As I said before, freelancers won't normalize social media, business people will.
  • Whatever you do, just don't do marketing by checklist or coloring the numbers in, please. Indeed, let's get the content right.

(8.) Apple is the only smart phone vendor with an attractive business model. Or Apple and the 7 dwarfs. Android has more units, but Apple earns almost all the profits.

(9.) Trying to support two wireless technologies has caused the US to fall behind other developed countries.

(10.) The convergence of Web and TV has the potential to disrupt cable and satellite. TV is the last protected medium.

  • Think about the power of seeing the actual viewer statistics, instead of relying on ratings, which everyone knows are not as accurate. The new flat panels have the capability to do that.

These are hypotheses, which are constantly evolving. At minute 23:45, he provide some context around economic and market forces, along with some recommended strategies. Among them, he says there should be a focus on earlier stage companies, which are poised to be the new innovators.

I would be curious to hear your take on some of these points. What's on your horizon.

 

[hat tip Gavin Heaton]

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0 responses to “Trends: Social is a Feature”

  1. Hi Valeria
    I saw this a few days ago. I’ve known Roger for a long time. He certainly dances to his own drummer and has created a lot of wealth through innovation.
    It pays to pay attention…even if you don’t agree.
    I’ll respond to the “Social is a feature’ comment. Beyond the overt shock blogging headline, where I think he is going, and where I agree, is that the pure play horizontal platforms have been built.
    Agree with that. But there will be, and we need, vertical communities around topics of interest. These are communities. They are social. Social is neither feature nor intent, vertical community is the intent.

  2. I’d have to agree on your hypotheses 9. It does not help people when two technologies are being used in wireless (GSM and CDMA). Take a look at the iPhone 4. Apple took a long time to release a CDMA version.

  3. Here’s my take: a digital business’ long-term viability depends solely on its ability to obsolete itself. As Oracle CEO pointed out, technology is moving faster than fashion. The conceit of dialtone is that everything can be addressed, reliably. That notion is dependent on the nature of the corpus, which is changing from a keyword index to Battelle’s Database of Intentions. Soon the corpus will include the Internet of Things.
    (Hypothesis 9 inverts Americas dominance in PCs where the US had one operating system enabling more efficient innovation in the right parts of the stack, while Japanese companies like Fujitsu each had their own OS, hamstringing PC app innovation. Mobile flipped the situation because each country other than the US has a single mobile carrier. It took years just to get domestic carriers like Verizon to agree to a common short code protocol.)
    @connectme

  4. Great list of top 10 digital trends, although I am missing one… GAMES!
    I wrote a book about games being the next marketing tool after the era of digital tools, apps and social. The past two years gaming has become a mass marketing for brands. My book will be translated into English and a free summary is already available on http://www.brandnewplayground.com
    My weblog could also be inspiring: check http://www.gamingandbranding.com
    Let me know what you think.

  5. Europe has had an advantage in mobile communication over the US as well. I like resilience over reliability, because we know that error is bound to happen – both as in human, and as in accident. Yes, The Internet of Things is a complicated issue…

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