IT won’t be long, tweeted Andreessen Horowitz partner Benedict Evans, “before people who use Facebook’s desktop site at all will be a minority of users.” The tweet came with a graph of Facebook’s monthly active users (MAU) with mobile-only already millions above a declining desktop-only MAU and closing in on the number of users who use both mobile and desktop.
Evans gave a presentation last week to the Wall Street Journal’s WSJD conference and the a16z Tech Summit by Andreesen Horowitz. If you’re interested in tech and the future, his talk makes for informative viewing and reading.
Evan’s session, at least as listed in the tech summit, was about “The Triumph of Mobile.”
“There is no point in drawing a distinction between the future of technology and the future of mobile. They are the same,” the conference site said of his talk. “The triumph of mobile means new components in your data center, a new dominant software architecture running your devices, new ways to sell, and new ways to work. It also means operating at a massive scale never seen before. Quite literally, the world awaits. Better get ready.”
In his presentation “Mobile is eating the world,” which Evans embedded in his personal website, he talked about the exponential opportunities presented by mobile.
The time spent on mobile apps, he quoted a comScore report, is now more than the time spent on the web.
The biggest change is that “smartphones are so much more sophisticated,” he said. “You have this supercomputer with you and it’s watching you, for better or for worse,” he said.
Evans said the sensors that come with the phone “create new business opportunities, new ways of solving problems.”
Facebook mobile ads
He said the opportunities do not come just from scale — there will be 2x to 3x more smartphones than PCs by 2020 — but that these devices are mobile, taken everywhere, frictionless when it comes to access, equipped with sensors and camera, location-enabled, capable to process payment, social platforms and much easier to use. He said that because of these, the opportunities are exponential: 10x.
“A good illustration of that is Facebook, which has built something of a multi-stage rocket; it now has a $6.5 billion run-rate mobile ad business that appeared out of nowhere in 24 months,” he said. He later tweeted a graph that illustrates this phenomenon; indeed it is a phenomenon.
Evans said mobile is remaking the tech industry. Smartphones dwarf PCS, he said, and you have 4 billion people buying a phone every two years instead of 1.6 billion purchasing a PC every five years.
“Mobile scale eats consumer electronics; smartphone and tablets are now close to half of the consumer electronics industry by revenue,” he said.
Mobile remaking other industries
In 1999, Evans said, 80 billion consumer photos were taken on film; in 2014, 800 billion photos were shared on social networks.
There are more iPhones and Android phones sold than Japanese cameras ever; “the camera has been eaten by the mobile phone.”
Mobile is also remaking other industries. Evans said technology brands already make up 40 percent of the top 100 global brand value.
He also cited a study that showed how technology dominates our attention throughout the day. He then shared a separate study by Ofcom on media use by kids aged 11 to 15 in the United Kingdom. When asked what they would miss the most, a substantial majority answered mobile. Mobile was the answer by close to half of boys and more than half by girls. Among boys, PCs and game consoles were substantial second and third choices, unlike the majority mobile choice among girl respondents of the study.