The Digital Skeptic: RIP, Internet Research Report, 1995-2012
As wrong as it ever was.
What's scary is the Web research report madness lives on. A much older -- she's my age -- Meeker is now an investment partner at Silicon Valley investment shop Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. She's been out hawking her 2012 Internet Trends report, which she co-wrote with fellow Kleiner Perkins digital team member Liang Wu.
And reading it is like stepping back in time.
All the dramatic, up-and-to-the-right stuff is there: the spurt in iPad, iPhone, and iPod sales; the rapid growth of ebooks and tablets; the "reimagination" of drawing and photography -- it all sounds so obviously lucrative.
But if you pay attention, you'll see -- yet again -- the same hedges and self-referential logic that create the illusion of value when there is none.
Go to slide seven in the online presentation; there you will see a growth rate of 37% in the 1.1 billion so-called "Global 3G Subscribers." That implies a big, near-term spurt in the mobile Web services that will run on this new fast, mobile Web, with lots of dollars to be made.
The reality is, that spurt will never happen. See, the billions of worldwide cellphone users already use a digital device. It is called a cellphone. It has a processor, storage and a screen. It connects to the network using similar standards as the Web. That means this nasty, shallow, brutally hard to monetize global Web is the Web. And it won't get much bigger. Meeker herself says (on on slide 11) that global phone subscriptions run about 6 billion. And there are only 7 billion people on the planet.
What, infants are going online next?
Just divide by 6.
The Real Internet Report, therefore, goes like this: Simply take the 6 billion cellphone subscription in the world and divide them into the combined pure-play Web revenue of Google(GOOG) , Amazon, eBay(EBAY) and Facebook(FB) . That was roughly $101.3 billion last year. You should get $16.88 per real Web subscriber per year on your calculator.