Mid-year reports tend to be check-ins or check-ups; and they’re usually not very interesting, analytical, or helpful. The real fireworks often take place at the end of the year, when the 12-month look-back and 12-month look-ahead forecast steals the show—in terms of shedding light, providing perspective, and setting the agenda.
Not so in 2011.
Here we are in the middle of the year, and several major technology trends are shaking established markets in real time.
Whether it’s a new mobile platform that’s taking off, a new way to shop online that’s taking hold, or a new social life for Google that’s taking no prisoners, the first six months of 2011 has it all.
Having said that, here are three good trends, and three not-so-good trends, for you to review and consider at mid-year:
Three Good Trends
- Android Gains Massive Adoption—The number is already up to 500K activations per day! And I believe that this open approach to mobile OS is going to be a huge boon to innovation because it will expand the total number of seats more rapidly than Apple alone could have done. This will also keep the pressure on Apple to keep its walled garden ever so open in order to let its robust ecosystem continue to flourish and innovate. With iPad sales now exceeding Mac sales, and an increasing number of Android tablets in the market, look for this competition to expand beyond just phones.
- Social Entertainment Shopping Changes the Face of E-commerce—The move is from a “search” paradigm to find products and services to a “discovery and sharing” paradigm. With products such as Groupon, Zulilly and Thredup consumers discover products that are curated and “pushed” to them and, with social sharing, they spread the word to other consumers. Shoppers derive pleasure from this discovery and sharing and in the process conduct transactions. (Note: My firm, Trinity Ventures, has investments in Zulily and ThredUp.)
- Google+ Grows to Over 10M Users in 10 Days!—This is huge for innovation. With games being a large part of the use case, Facebook is evolving into an “entertainment platform.” But there are so many more applications that can be built on top of the social Web that are more utility oriented, such as commerce, job hunting, and ride sharing. These have had less success on Facebook. Since Google has seen the FB picture play out, could it enhance its developer ecosystem in such a way that it becomes the “utility platform” that people just need day in and day out to get their work done?
Three Not-So-Good Trends
- Google Continues to Become an Increasingly Dominant Force—With the success of Android and projected success of Google+, it is no longer a one-trick (search) pony; and it’s poised to become a big player in the mobile and social spaces. This means it will have access to a significant share of display advertising dollars, in addition to its dominant position in the search market.
- The Possibility of Declining IPO Values—As some high-quality VC- funded companies see success on the IPO market, the worry is that some marginal companies will also get listed, and, when they fail, they could take the valuations of good companies down with them.
- Data Plan Limits—Putting limits on Verizon and AT&T data plans is bad for mobile applications innovation, which is still in its first inning.
It will be interesting to see if the velocity of technology change is this strong at the end of the year. It will also be fascinating to see where Google is at the start of 2012. And, of course, everybody wants a crystal ball that helps predict market values and valuations. But that, too, will have to wait—for at least another six months.
In the meantime, here’s to a robust second half of 2011.