In Silicon Valley, it’s becoming accepted wisdom that all the big opportunities in mobile apps have been claimed.
Since Facebook, Snapchat, Uber, and Google are so dominant, there isn’t much room for a new upstart to claim homescreen space on the millions of iPhones and Android phones out there.
After all — Facebook maintains 4 of the top 5 spots in terms of total downloads, and the top 1% of publishers on Apple’s App Store collect 94% of the revenue. On first glance, it’s a winner-take-all situation.
Greylock Partners’ Josh Elman disagrees with the conventional wisdom. He believes the current status of the mobile world is similar to where the web was in 2002 — right before the “web 2.0” boom.
“Looking back to 2002 — 2004, we all felt that the consumer Internet was played out. Nobody was starting consumer companies. Yahoo! and AOL were the dominant portals, Amazon had staked its claim on the e-commerce world, Google was well on its way to search engine dominance, a bunch of ridiculous dot-coms had met their deserving fates, and there didn’t seem to be much room for anything else.”
But then something interesting happened — social got off the ground. During “Web 2.0,” he points out, Friendster, LinkedIn, Myspace, YouTube, and Facebook all launched. What first seemed like a gap in innovation was merely a lull before a big boom of new products and experiences for the web.
Elman sees a direct comparison with where mobile is now. “It’s worth remembering that the global app market could be generating $100 billion in revenue by 2020, according to App Annie,” he writes. “So mobile is far from dead.”
Elman’s point is that there are new apps powering “compelling” and innovative experiences, and consumers are actually giving them a try.
For example, there have been 13 non-game apps that have risen to the top five slots in Apple’s app store this year:
Some of these apps were brief fads — like meeting Down To Lunch, which was powered by text spam. But others, like Prisma, are genuinely innovative and use cutting edge technologies, like “creative” machine learning.
“In reality, there are probably hundreds of core needs that aren’t being met by mobile today, but which could be. I don’t think we need to wait for a new platform to make these kinds of magical new experiences happen,” Elman concludes.