cover of Internet Trends 2016 presentationMary Meeker’s Internet Trends is one of the most eagerly awaited presentations of the year.

The headline for 2016 is that Internet growth is slowing – 3 billion people are now online – something like 40% of the planet. In 2015 drones were a big item, this year not so much. That said there are at least three areas that Mary covered that have a direct bearing on the drone market.

In communication, video and images shared are growing as a means of storytelling; creators, consumers, and advertisers are taking part.

slide from presentation

 The numbers here are absolutely staggering.
  • In the 18-34 segment, people are spending almost 20 hours a month on
    Facebook alone.
  • Between Facebook and Snapchat there are ~18B video views per day.
  • A preference for real-time content is emerging which makes the ability to stream live such as DJI recently announced and GE demonstrated with Periscope a
    huge advantage.
  • The number of photos shared a day increased 50% from 2014-2015.
  • And mobile users spend an average of 5 hours per day using their top three apps – Facebook, Chrome and YouTube.

Transportation is being re-imagined, as the rise of car computerization, autonomous driving, and sharing transform our understanding
of mobility.

Is it a car or a computer slide

Take a look at Slide #138. Cars today have up to 100 Electronic Control Units supported by multiple bus networks. Somecars  are drive by wire, others are connected and Tesla’s get wireless software upgrades in their garage. Apple and Google are both now considered Tier 1 auto suppliers with CarPlay and Android Auto. Cars are now at what the NHTSA calls Level 3 – Limited Self-Driving Automation – meaning that someone has to be aboard, but for most intents and purposes it’s leave the driving to the drone.
Meeker notes that the US has a home field advantage and could be the world leader in this new space but for a familiar theme – “a litigious US judicial system that may slow progress.” There is also a fascinating discussion about how the whole concept of car ownership will change. She notes that since opening the door in 2009, Uber has provided 1B rides and will soon become the urban mainstream ride.

The proliferation of data generated by a multitude of devices has fostered tremendous business opportunity, but privacy
concerns abound.

slide showing data generating uses

The Data section starts on Slide #193 and perhaps deserves the most scrutiny by anyone interested in the commercial drone business. You will notice that a drone is prominently featured in the upper right “sweet spot.” As we have frequently discussed, drones generate mass quantities of data every single time they lift off. Furthermore, the commercial value of each flight is entirely predicated on the ability to manage, analyze and secure that data.
Meeker quotes Frank Bien, the CEO of Looker who said that “Data is moving from something you use outside the workstream to becoming a part of the business app itself. It’s how the new knowledge worker is actually performing their job.”

 

Data 3 Looker

This gives birth to what she calls “data as a platform”. Integrating and sharing enterprise-critical information is in my opinion where the drone wars will be fought. Note that this goes well beyond the concepts of operational planning, control and reporting and the idea of data streaming and processing. I very specifically mean incorporating drone generated data into the fabric of the organization – put another way moving it from the department to the C-Suite.
No surprise then that this leads to Scylla and Charybdis. One the one hand there is the issue of cybercrime in all its infinite variations with some ~4B records breached globally since 2013. For context that’s more records then there are people connected to the Internet. And as we have discussed frequently and will continue to, DaaS providers and their clients will very much be on the front lines of this.

 

privacy slide

 On the other side, you have the issue of personal privacy. And what this slide shows is that there is no one who is not concerned about data privacy. Yes there is a red block of 4% – well within a +/-5% error.
We can debate how much of a threat drones really are to personal privacy if you want to, but I look at it this way. Drones are just another thing that raises people’s hackles. Exactly the kind of thing that leads to local and state legislators making laws… Unfortunately I don’t think that the NTIA voluntary best practices will do much to calm people’s concerns.

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