The annual growth of new internet users dropped from 12% to 7%, posing a threat to internet startups in India that are relying on scale and internet penetration.

How Mary Meekers 2018 Internet Trends report affects Indian startupsImage for representation
Atom Internet Saturday, June 09, 2018 - 09:41

Mary Meeker has been one of the foremost experts in all things related to trends and IT. She’s had an illustrious career as an investor and has been preparing reports in the tech space for many years now. She’s the leading insider for much of the movement that happens in terms of big changes in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, especially in the startup space.

Mary’s specialty has been in the space of predicting big movements in tech and macro-effects of them. Whether that’s social media, or mobile phone adoption, her predictions impact Indian startups in a big way.

“Internet companies are making low price services better in part from user data. Internet users are increasing their time on internet services based on perceived value. Regulators want to ensure data is not used improperly and not all regulators think about this in the same way,”  Mary Meeker said at the Code 2018 Conference.

One of the biggest impact slides from her presentation were that the growth of new internet users had dropped from 12% YoY to 7%. This significant drop poses a threat to internet startups in India that are relying on scale and internet penetration. This also means that there needs to be significant investments in the space of technology development and making internet packages more desirable for consumers.

Of the top global companies, 5 of the biggest CapEx spenders are tech firms like Google and Amazon. This implies a steady trend in the dominance of internet companies in the world. Indian startups would soon follow with some of the larger brands becoming global leaders in investment and development. The tech space is going to be one of the most dominant ones in the years to come, especially in a developing economy like India.

The twenty biggest tech companies are all Chinese and US companies, leaving no room for Indian startups to reach the global space. This could be in part due to red tape, regulations and poor global strategy and vision. Indian startups may be content with Indian vision and not seeing the bigger picture in other markets. In other areas, they may be too slow to move. This is a huge red flag for Indian firms that have the capability to lead the way globally but are too slow to adoption. They are being invested into by Chinese and US firms but aren’t competing with them head-on.

When it comes to media, and how people are consuming it – the data has grown significantly. One such area is educational content, where startups like Byjus and others operate. There are 1 billion daily learning views with 70% of the consumers using it to solve problem and increase their knowledge base. This is in direct response to the rising automation wave and how we’re all trying to become constant learners in this space. Indian startups should be investing in this area in huge ways, looking at the global demand for educational content.

What’s even more surprising is that this past year, smartphone shipments remained relatively steady. This could be in response to a lack of overall innovation the market, and a focus on providing cheaper alternatives for minimum quality designs. Shipments have reached a pinnacle-point, leading many to believe that the hardware space will only be dominated once an AR or VR wave hits the market.

Voice-enabled tech is also making a huge comeback this year, with more investments being done in the space. With innovation being the core message in voice, there are advancements being made in the input domain that are revolutionary. Indian native language speakers don’t need to type anything on their phone, as they can speak their queries into the phone directly. With prices dropping lower faster, this could be a near-future prediction for many Indian startups in tech.

Even when it comes to software and AI, India’s pride and joy China is beating it in a big way. They’re launching better products, more innovation and faster turnaround times for the same features and functionalities. That’s why countries like China and USA are preventing Indians from paving the path towards our own AI story. While we can leverage scale, other countries are going for large scale development globally.

“China, India and the US are the only markets that have relative GDP that is rising, others are falling. Cross-border trade continues to be very important. Internet leadership, a lot has happened over the last five to 10 years. This looks at today’s top 20 internet leaders. Five years ago, nine of them were in the US, two were in China. Today, 11 are in the US, nine are in China. China obviously gaining very rapidly,”         Mary Meeker also said.

A key area of contention has been privacy, as more startups and regulators work together to find the line between invasion and data collection. Indian startups will have to face global regulations, and a large part of it coming from EU, if they want to compete globally.

Also read: Google's dealings with Huawei, Xiaomi come under scanner in US

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