#189 Catching the technology wave

I never dreamed that at 65 I would be so excited about technology. But I just acquired an iPad and feel as if a whole new world is opening. It’s too new for me to know where this gift is going to take me, but I have a keen sense of anticipation. Roger McNamee confirms my optimism.

Last night I was too tired to write anymore so listened to his TED talk on “Six Ways to Save the Internet.” I don’t recommend that as a pre-bedtime activity because it left me buzzing with ideas.

McNamee is the co-founder of Elevation Partners. By day he is a science and tech investor. By night he plays in a band called Moonalice, a group of “seasoned” musicians who are using technology to make their performances a communal experience through audio, video, poster art, photography, social media, and more.

He starts off his talk with this:

I’m here to talk about what I think is going to be the most intense disruption of the technology world that’s occurred in the last ten years, and I believe the end product of it will be entirely about engagement. In fact I think it is possibly a transformational change in the way we’re going to think about engagement. What would you do if you knew a major new technology cycle was beginning?

Then he proposes six hypotheses that stir up so many ideas they keep me awake:

  1. Microsoft’s market share has dropped from 96% to less than 50%, thanks to smartphones. Within the next year and a half their share will be under 30%. That will create revenue opportunities for the companies that step in.
  2. Index searching has peaked. Google has gone from 90% of searching to 50%. The other 50% is split among more targeted sources such as Wikipedia, Wordnik, Yelp, Dictionary.com, LinkedIn, Facebook and Trip Advisor. People have found other ways to find what they want, especially on mobile phones.
  3. The Web’s wide-open, mostly free content is being replaced by thoughtful, branded, value-added, copyright-protected applications. “It’s Apple’s world,” McNamee says, and this year the company will ship approximately 100 million Internet-enabled devices.
  4. When HTML5 is released, you will be able to construct a Web page where everything will be integrated and interactive. This opens a new canvas where anyone can afford to produce differentiated, highly compelling, value-added products —and maybe even make money at it.
  5. “If you don’t own an iPad, you cannot possibly understand the most important things going on now.” Other tablets are arriving on the market, but they are having no impact because they do not compare with Apple’s. The company is likely to grab 70-80% of the tablet market.
  6. “Facebook is the new Windows. …Forget social. It’s a feature, not a platform. Embed social into everything. It’s all about engagement.” A model for this is zynga. Even a non-gamer like me gets regular requests to play FarmVille. (Don’t ask. I don’t have more hours in the day.)

McNamee sees a very different and promising future. He says,

I believe that creativity has been stifled, not so much by technology, but by the general deterioration of American culture. …But I think technology is finally going to do us a favor. I think it is finally going to give us the tools to be independent.”

McNamee admits any or all of his hypotheses may be wrong, but the new technology world holds secrets and changes we only dream of now.

Stay tuned. We’re in for a wild and wonderful ride.

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