Analyst Mary Meeker helps us take a look into the future with some incredible data


“Sound is going to be bigger than video… ‘Record’ is the new QWERTY”

– Alexander Ljung

Founder & CEO, SoundCloud


“With undifferentiated products, price is competed down to marginal cost. And the marginal cost for digital content is $0.”

– Mary Meeker

Web 2.0 Summit, San Francisco, October 18th 2011


I’m a firm believer that data beats opinion, and earlier this week at San Francisco’s Web 2.0 Summit, Kleiner Perkins partner and former Morgan Stanley analyst Mary Meeker shared her insights as to where the internet is headed, some trends she sees, and some thoughts about the future of the economy, technology and business. Meeker’s presentations are always a fascinating look at what’s coming in the immediate future, provide an incredible snapshot of the current climate, and are essential reading for anyone interested in growing their business digitally.

In short, it’s truly what’s next.

The full presentation is embedded above, but here’s some interesting insights as they specifically apply to the real estate industry:

Most of the top internet sites’ traffic, such as visitors to Google, Facebook, Wikipedia and Amazon are primarily from outside the United States. It’s not even close, and China’s rapid adoption of the web is fueling this at an incredible pace – in the past 3 years, China added more internet users than exist in the entire USA, and still has only 34% population penetration. This will be an interesting shift to keep an eye on for visitor patterns to US-based sites, especially when it comes to the larger syndicators. Meeker’s research suggests that there’s a shift away from portals based on this. Take note Zillow and Trulia.

As more people are spending ever increasing time on social networks, the time they spend everywhere else online is dramatically shrinking. This is a trend being directly driven by mobile. Think about this next time you send a tweet or create a Facebook post. Amazingly, there are more people using social networks today than the entire number of web users in 2006. Be in no doubt that social is a major destination for people online, and the primary destination after search. 70% of all social network use happens on Facebook, so remaining competitive in social directly relates to remaining visible online. Parallel to the notes about international web growth, Israel tops the chart for highest social media use, with an average of over 11 hours spent on these sites per user per month (the USA weighs in at a measly 6.8 hours per user per month – doesn’t this feel like more?). Those in the real estate industry who are able to effectively leverage the enormous amount of time spent on these sites, particularly Facebook, have a distinct advantage over their competition in terms of being seen.

User interfaces are becoming simpler and simpler. What originally started out as text, moved swiftly to graphics and icons, and is now all about touch. Sound and movement (gestural) interfaces are here today with Siri and Kinect. Meeker calls this the ‘Natural User Interface Revolution’ (more on this topic here:, and places sound and speech recognition at the center of how this will evolve. This represents great untapped potential for our industry. Imagine what sound-based search would do for real estate syndicators or any destination online where you can look for homes for sale. Being able to recognize sounds, voice and gestural motion has seismic potential for us, and in many ways can be a perfect fit, especially when you pair that technology with the car. Instead of having to ‘click’ to look for homes, you could just ask you car and have it direct you to the nearest open house, all based on what you’re interested in (I’ve previously discussed this idea here: That’s a massive user interface step from where most real estate searches are today, and light years away from QR codes.

Android is far outpacing iPhone in terms of users, units shipped and overall adoption. Android for real estate is still very much in its infancy, especially compared to the iPhone. If you’re looking for where the users are, they’re on Android, even though iPhone might appear to be the more attractive platform. Not surprisingly, the mobile internet is the fastest growing type of technology ever – made even more amazing as it’s happening during a recession. Music and social media services fuel a huge part of that growth year on year. Meeker sees it as a two horse race for the smartphone market between the iPhone and Android, and in the tablet market between the iPad and Amazon’s Kindle. Blackberry who? Notably, Windows-enabled machines fell to less than 50% of internet enabled devices in Q2 2010, and it seems like there’s a strong thought that user experience is contributing to those shrinking metrics.

Shipments of the iPad have far outpaced that of their ‘Digital Siblings’, the iPhone and iPod. The iPad remains dominant in the tablet market, and most importantly for us, a huge part of how we untether ourselves from the brokerage’s office, serve our clients faster, and open up access to an unparalleled level of information for both buyers and sellers, all combined with the unique insight the agent provides. As a tool for replacing the folder of paperwork so often associated with the image of the real estate professional, it has the potential to make us move faster, work smarter, and know more than our competition. I don’t hear too many of those conversations happening about the Kindle, Galaxy Tab or the Playbook. Krisstina Wise, you’re doing great work towards leveraging this!

Google mobile queries have grown by over four times as much over the past 4 years. Search is shifting from the desktop to the smartphone. Advertisers are getting wise to this and implementing mobile ad campaigns to capitalize on this dramatic shift in user behavior. Real estate searches are increasingly happening ‘on the go’ as people look for information based on where they are, using the devices in their pockets. Voice searches are growing, and we can certainly expect Siri to play a role here. If you’re locked into the idea that real estate search is a series of drop-downs and checkboxes, a go button and pages of endless results, think again.

In addition to mobile search, the destinations and conversions offered by mobile commerce is ramping up aggressively each year too, with gross volume of sales driven by mobile payments exceeding over $4 Billion for services such as eBay. Mobile payment provider Square will be interesting to watch, having already surpassed $1 Billion in mobile payments since launch in mid 2010. Mobile users are using their smartphones to save money when physically at stores by using real-time reviews, and comparison shopping at the point of purchase. Google’s Jim Lecinski has done some great work on this topic, which he calls The Zero Moment Of Truth’.



So in conclusion, as Mary Meeker sees it, the Mega-Trend of the 21st Century: The empowerment of people via connected mobile devices. 85% of the world’s population has wireless coverage – more than have access to electricity! (80%). And while economic trends and the overall market outlook still prove to be uncertain, we’re living in a time of unprecedented technological innovation. The real estate industry is in the epicenter of this change, and the need to support our clients with exceptional, technologically-forward, helpful support as faster as possible has never been clearer. If you were in any doubt about the way the wind is blowing, this comprehensive set of data will brings things into very sharp focus for you.

Tell great stories. Create magical experiences. Have fun. We live in amazing times.


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