The next wave of mobile startups

By May 29, 2014Mobile

Mary Meeker has just published her excellent annual roundup of Internet Trends. As always there’s lots of good stuff in there. My biggest takeaway is best explained by this slide:

Screen Shot 2014-05-29 at 14.24.37
Across the whole world mobile data usage continues to grow and take share, yet in the developed world smart phone penetration is approaching saturation levels and growth in device sales has slowed. The opportunity space is shifting from exploiting people have phones and we know where they are, to leveraging newer developments to increase usage.

The first wave of mobile startups mostly took advantage of the fact that people had computers in their pockets to offer them services that are only useful when you are on the move. Uber/Hailo, Foursquare and Waze are good examples. My hunch is that we are largely through this phase now. Enough people have had enough smartphones for long enough that most of the good ideas will have been done already.

However, as we can see from the chart above we are all using our phones more and more, and where there is a change in behaviour like this there is opportunity. From a commerce perspective I’m excited about opportunities that fall into these two buckets:

  • companies that push the boundaries of UX design to make commerce entertaining  – people turn to their smartphones to fill idle moments and compelling product discovery experiences can profit from that. Mary Meeker cites Houzz as an example of a company in this space. Stylect from our portfolio is another.
  • companies that leverage the rising number of sensors in phones and connected to phones to build exciting new products – Fitbit and our portfolio company Big Health fall into this category