Happy New Year, all. Here’s to another twelve months of limitless possibilities in 2012.
A year ago I wrote a post on predictions for 2011 and listed five meta-trends that I saw transpiring in the world of tech and media. I thought it would be a good idea to bring them back up and discuss what happened and what didn’t. It looks like the obvious stuff happened (although I would welcome contrarian viewpoints), but some of the more nuanced predictions fell flat. Later this week I’ll write some predictions for 2012, but for now here’s some analysis on how this past year panned out:
Prediction 1: Exponential growth in the U.S. smartphone market.
This was the low hanging fruit of predictions and to a large extent it’s safe to say that this happened. According to eMarketer, aggregate U.S. smartphone penetration jumped from 26% in 2010 to 38% in 2011. That’s the biggest jump we’ll see as adoption slows YOY through 2015. Of particular interest is the increased adoption in the 35-44 and 45-64 cohorts of the population. A big question we should ask is how this group intends to use smartphones in the coming years, and what types of mobile services can we offer them?
Prediction 2: An increase in mobile gaming, but a decrease in pay-for-app models.
This prediction largely played out as well (don’t worry, I’m wrong about everything else). I think this graph from Flurry is the best visualization of the sea change that’s happening in gaming:
This graph came from a great piece written by Flurry’s GM of games, Jeferson Valadares, who identifies why this strategy is useful to game developers.
Flurry data shows that the number of people who spend money in a free game ranges from 0.5% to 6% depending on the quality of the game and its core mechanics. Although this means that more than 90% of players will not spend a single penny, it also means that players who love your game spend much more than the $0.99 you were considering charging for the app. And since you gave away the game for free, your “heavy spender” group can be sizable.
This ‘sizable’ group can drive the business value for your game, and the free-to-try model drastically lowers acquisition costs, keeping your funnel lean and activity high. I expect this trend to continue for non hit-based games (think casual gamers) in 2012.
Prediction 3: Continued adoption of cloud-based productivity apps by businesses
2011 saw a number of companies make this bet in various industries, and I am confident that cloud-based applications will continue their adoption curve into 2012. Was 2011 the breakout year for this change? I think the jury is still out on that and I’ve had trouble finding hard data around this either way. If anyone has real data on this in terms of customers or revenue I’d love to check it out. The best piece I’ve found was this NYT article on SAP, but it doesn’t really size the market shift.
One observation that I had this year was that consumers are starting to bring their preferred apps into the workplace. I didn’t see this as an entry point for enterprise businesses, but it looks like companies like Evernote and Dropbox are going to make their way into the workplace not through the traditional, long sales cycle that enterprise apps make to businesses, but through consumers just adding them on to their computers and demanding that they be permitted to use them.
Chris Dixon correctly points out that the user and the buyer in enterprise are different people, and I think that explains the drag in adoption pretty well. We’ll see what happens in 2012, but this change is definitely on its way.
Prediction 4: Fragmented social networks
Last January I predicted that people would want more choice in how they share content and who they share it with. This largely hasn’t happened yet on the web. Facebook continues to grow at shocking rates considering the law of large numbers – I think they’re predicted to grow over 8% in 2012 according to eMarketer. In defense of my prediction, Google seemed to have thought the same thing and made a big bet on Google+ and the ability to develop ‘circles’, which are essentially micro-social networks. We’ll see how this plays out in 2012.
Another note, when it comes to mobile I think we’re going to see an increase in demand for smaller networks. Path reached over 1M users this year and released a beautiful iOS app. Two mobile networks in the K2 Portfolio, Sonar and Tracks, are both focused on unique mobile networks and are seeing incredible traction.
Prediction 5: Flat adoption of mobile coupons
This was flatter than most predicted, or hoped. I think the best example of this lack of pickup would be Groupon Now: Groupon’s mobile solution. According to Yipit, when Now launched in May of 2011, Groupon predicted that mobile deals would represent 50% of Groupon’s sales within two years, but it has largely failed to deliver on that promise- Now has been less than 1% of revenues in North america so far:
I don’t think there’s a question of whether or not mobile coupons will become a driving force for consumer behavior in the future. However, timing is everything an 2011 was not the year for widespread adoption.
That’s is for 2011. Overall the big trends that we saw forming up a year ago have largely played out as predicted. I’ll put some predictions around 2012 later this week.