1 Great Thing in 2014: Mobile is Eating the World

a16z podcast

I listen to hundreds of podcasts every year, while I’m driving, running or working in the garden.

So, for this week’s blog series called “1 Great Thing in 2014”, I’m going to nominate my favorite podcast of the year.

“Mobile is Eating the World” is part of the podcast series from Andreessen Horowitz. It’s so good that I probably listened to it 30 times or more.

On the surface, this podcast a conversation about mobile, but really it’s a 20 minute conversation about change. There are so many great ideas in this discussion about how we do or don’t handle change.

Every single day, I think about how to handle change. This podcast helped my thinking more than any other in 2014.

I’ve never taken notes on a podcast before, but here are my notes from “Mobile is Eating the World”:

First 5 minutes: the Innovator’s Dilemma

  • Mobile is the first time ever that technology will reach 70%, 80% or even 90% of people.
  • Predicting change is really hard and gets even harder as you’re closer to the change.
  • We all face the Innovator’s Dilemma on a personal level. Your own skills come into question. As an engineer going through these changes, people always tell you that the next generation of software is a toy.
  • We always try to fit new tools into our old workflow. That’s doomed to fail: our workflow must change. Our job stays the same, but the workflow must change,

5 to 10 mins: the scale of mobile

  • There will be a billion people whose first online experience is a smartphone.
  • Half of the people online will be only on a smartphone, and the vast majority of online time will be on phones.
  • There will be 3 times more devices thanks to mobile, but 10 times more opportunity (payments, keys, health) becuase the phone is always with you.
  • Mobile is everything. Even if you’re comfortable with your current software, the innovation around you will slowly decay, especially in a relative sense.

10 to 15 mins: change is slow, but massive

  • Some conferences have people are talking about things that are 10 years old. Other conferences, everyone is fresh out of college and full of energy.
  • People look to the fact that change is happening slowly as evidence of non-change. But replacement takes time:
    • In the mainframe era you were looking at 1000’s of mainframes that needed replacing.
    • When the graphical interface came along, it had to replace a few million DOS machines.
    • When the internet arrived, it had to ride on top of 10’s of millions of PC’s.
    • Now when mobile arrives, you have a billion PC’s.
  • We are buying our last PCs and Macs, but they are such good machines, they may last for years and years.

15 to 22 mins, software is the new banking

  • Every new thing doesn’t feel exciting because it’s one small step.
  • Watch Steve Jobs introducing the iPhone or the original Mac.
  • Apple Pay seems harmless and sits nearly on top of our existing systems, but it will eat the current ecoystem.
  • Software is going to eat all our pieces of plastic.
  • Technology companies are breaking out into the wider world. Uber is a software company in transport. Buzzfeed is a software company in the media.
  • In the 20th century, large companies realized that all the money was in banking. So companies like General Electic and Boeing became banks.
  • In the 21st century, software is replacing finance in that regard.

If you want more, here are the slides and video from the original talk:

{snippet a16zslidesvideo}


  • Steve Burge

    Steve is the founder of OSTraining. Originally from the UK, he now lives in Sarasota in the USA. Steve's work straddles the line between teaching and web development.

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David Louis DeFebo
David Louis DeFebo
9 years ago

Wow, thanks Steve, that was quite a brain-full!

So, I can’t help asking the obvious question…when is OST going to offer mobile app dev tutorials?

9 years ago

Yes, that’s a great way to describe it 🙂
February 1st will mark our 5th anniversary, and we plan to significantly broaden our curriculum. Apps might be a little way down the road, but the mobile focus will definitely get heavier.

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