Are You Ready for the Hypernet?

apps growth
Data from ABI Research

“Moore’s Law is not actually a law,” said Roger McNamee, managing director of Elevation Partners at ITLG Innovation Summit in Santa Clara yesterday. McNamee, who was one of the early investors in Facebook, explained that Moore's law was a challenge for engineers. “Basically what Gordon [Moore] said was: unless you guys are a lot stupider than your older brothers and your parents, you can double electronics’ performance every 18 months. And engineers, being engineers, did that.”

McNamee explained that the power of rapid technological progress could be used to “create a new world in Silicon Valley that is radically more interesting than the world we live in now.”

But first, some clear terminology is required. For one thing, the term the “Internet” has become largely irrelevant. McNamee suggested using the term “hypernet” to describe the sum of the wired Internet, the cellular data network, and WiFi. And in the future, it might grow to include other wireless technologies. “The network architecture itself is still evolving,” he added.

But the important thing is not just that the hypernet is more diverse than the wired Internet, McNamee said. The majority of innovation has shifted to native apps for mobile use. “The growth is not on the Web,” he said.

Although it wasn't explicitly mentioned in McNamee's talk, this trend is becoming increasingly important in the digital health domain as well. As evidence of that, FDA released proposed regulations for medical mobile apps last year. In addition, there is now a “Health & Fitness” app store on iTunes. And there are technologies such as the iPhone ECG and Airstrip Technologies, for which apps play an important role. There are incubators such as Rock Health digital health. A Baltimore Sun article quotes Research2Guidance's Ralf-Gordon Jahns as predicting that 247 million people will download a health app at least once this year. Last year, 124 million people downloaded at least one health app.

Not understanding this new network architecture and its implications is a mistake. “And if you don’t recognize [the implications of the hypernet], you find yourself in a position in which Google finds itself today.”

Below is a video of McNamee speaking at TEDxSantaCruz:

—Brian Buntz