Analyst Reports are Still 1.0

Mary Meeker (yep she’s still rowing that same boat) came out with the mother of all reports on the mobile market:

We decided to create The Mobile Internet Report largely in PowerPoint and publish it on the web, expecting that bits and pieces of it will be cut / pasted / redistributed and debated / dismissed / lauded. Our goal is to get our thoughts and data into the conversation about what may be the biggest technology trend ever, one that may help make us all more informed in ways that are unique to the web circa 2009, and beyond.

[From Morgan Stanley - Institutional Services]

My first thought was these reports really haven’t changed over the years… there’s the same defining the landscape and recalling of history section, coining of terms, the all important “themes” summary, and money shot powerpoint graphics that anyone pitching a mobile app or data startup will immediately have a geekgasm over.

Next let us talk about the reliance on history as a predictor for the future in technology markets. Bottom line, history is written by the victors and ultimately means bubkus for the venture market. Specifically on mobile, who would have predicted that the iPhone would redefine the mobile application market when it first came out? Recall as well that Apple did their best to lock down the handset so that 3rd parties could not build native apps… so clearly even Apple couldn’t predict what was in store.

History doesn’t mean shit and the great companies always emerge from completely orthogonal plays on what all the smart people predict will happen.

Don’t get me wrong, there is a ton of really good data in this tome on the mobile internet… but does it really tell us things we don’t already know, like bandwidth growth for mobile will outpace desktop, apps and data drive consumption, pricing pressures emerge, VoIP will be big, location based services are the new frontier, and socialization of mobile devices and apps is a next wave? These reports are little more than an attempt to define how the market is defined and conversed about… burnish up the faded glory that being a big i-bank analyst used to hold.

I commend MorganStanley on producing a truly impressive 700 slide powerpoint presentation but ask whether or not the effort is worth the expense. I’d rather see a collection of short stories that tie these themes together than the analyst version of War and Peace.

Ring Ring Ring

It’s that time of year, the bell ringing red kettle and a plea for generosity to help those, an increasing number sadly, less fortunate than us.

Please consider clicking on the Red Kettle in the sidebar or clicking on this link to make a small donation to the Salvation Army, an organization that has been doing good work since 1865. This Christmas season is seeing more burdens than usual put on those who rely on organizations like the Salvation Army while at the same time these same organizations are struggling to raise enough money to provide services to those in need. It is critical that all of us dig into our wallet to find that extra $5, $10 or $20 that can be used to provide food, clothing and shelter.

Thanks in advance, I’ve been a lifelong supporter of the Salvation Army and to be able to use my blog as a venue to channel donations is something that is in itself a great gift for me.

Personal fundraising widget for 2009 Red Kettle campaign

California’s High Speed Pipe Dream Revisited

In September 2008 I wrote this:

Don’t you love how the proponents are telling us how much the ticket will cost even though this thing is two decades away from being completed, should the voters be duped into passing this measure. Sure, let’s add another $50 billion in debt that has a payoff price tag of $100 billion to the State’s already current liabilities of $100 billion (which will cost taxpayers $200 billion to pay off).

[From California’s High Speed Pipe Dream | Venture Chronicles]

At the time I received a number of emails saying I was wrong (with varying intensity) yet today I read a report on a new business plan by the High Speed Rail Authority that says:

The average ticket on the bullet train from San Francisco to Los Angeles is now estimated to cost about $105, or 83 percent of comparable airfare. Last year, the state said prices would be set at 50 percent of comparable airfare and predicted a ticket from San Francisco to Los Angeles would cost $55.

As a result of the higher fares, state officials now think the service will attract 41 million annual riders by 2035, down from last year’s prediction of 55 million passengers by 2030.

Finally, the cost of the project — recently pegged at $33.6 billion in 2008 dollars — is now estimated at $42.6 billion in time-of-construction dollars.

By the way, Southwest and Virgin America are both flying to LA for $59 each way… which makes the high speed rail ticket price somewhat of a dubious value.

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