By Phil Hill
Mary Meeker from Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers (KPCB) has released her annual Internet Trends presentation, which has taken on a life of its own. Her data is very useful to see macro trends and the significance of Internet-related technology. Even in the non-education sections, the presentation should be very useful to education.
One interesting perspective is that tablets continue their massive growth. Anecdotally, I am not seeing such a strong uptick in tablet usage by students on campuses, but the overall growth is worth exploring further. It would be interesting to see more longitudinal data specifically on tablet usage on campus.
Another mobile perspective to keep watching is the rising percentage of web usage by mobile devices (smart phones and tablets), which jumped from 14% to 25% in just the past year. If your campus or technology company does not have a mobile strategy, then you are missing what students (and even faculty and staff) are actually experiencing on the web.
Once you get down to the education section (starting on slide 24), I found Meeker’s overall setup good, but her argument of a “tipping point” unpersuasive. She starts out by observing how important the education sector is in the US:
- Education is Important
- Education is Expensive
- Education Results are Often Subpar
- People Care About Education
- Personalized Education Ramping
- Distribution Expanding & Education Start-up Costs Declining
While these are not new observations, I think she is right in using them to explain why the sector is important and why this is different than other technology-driven sectors susceptible to bubbles and lost interest. I could see educational technology investment dropping in the near future, but the challenges and opportunities will not go away.
Where I have a problem is her justification that “education may be at a tipping point”. These examples seem to cherry-pick technology adoption for consumer tools rather than showing any evidence of change based on the technologies. It’s not that I don’t see change happening, just that this slide is one of the weaker arguments in the deck.
Later in the presentation is an interesting observation showing the low level of useful information that is actually tagged and analyzed, which is also true for education.
You can see the entire presentation here:"New Internet Trends Presentation: Mary Meeker gets education partly right",