In his annual state-of-tech presentation, Benedict Evans argues that we’re at a transition point. The last twenty years have been about picking the low-hanging fruit (getting people connected to the internet.) With three-quarters of the world’s population now online, this focus is shifting: the next couple of decades will be about enabling the activities people do there. As a result, those activities will change in significant ways:
We began with models that presumed low internet penetration, low speeds, little consumer readiness and little capital. Now all of those are inverted. So, we used to do apartment listings and now Opendoor will buy your home; we used to do restaurant reviews and now you can get a hot meal delivered to your door. Tech is building different kinds of businesses, and so will take different shares of that opportunity, but more importantly change what those industries look like. Tesla isn’t interesting because of what it does to gasoline, but because of what it does to the car. Netflix changes TV, but so does Twitch.
These changes include using machine learning to automate ontologies: “We’ll get to successive levels of meaning of what a thing is, rather than guessing at it through multiple levels of abstraction; from who linked to it or what page it was shared on.” This will allow us to be better at predicting our needs and generating value around meeting them.