On the eve of the new year I stumbled on an article on the growth of Internet. But it was New Year eve and I just put it aside. Yesterday, I picked it up again and I think it makes for a good reading. So take a look at it.
Basically, it points out that although many people in the world are not yet connected to the Internet and we are seeing an increasing growth there are signs that this is going to change in a short while, as soon as this year, 2011, someone says, or in 2013 at the latest. That is the time where the growth reaches an inflection point, a point where each year after that will see less and less people joining with respect to the previous years whilst so far has always been more joining year after year.
As shown in the figure on the left, the time of the inflection point is tied to the assumption on the final penetration of internet users, if we assume a (unrealistic) 100% the inflection point may happen in 2013 whilst it may happen this year if the final penetration ends up to be 80%.
Of course these are theoretical curves and the real ones may differ (as they differed in the past -see the white line representing the actual growth) but it is anyhow important to take note that an inflection point is due any day now.
The importance relies on the fact that along with the inflection point comes (soon after that) a change in the market dynamics. From an explosion of business we are likely to move into a consolidation, which is what has happened (still evolving) in the telecom area.
After the big bang are we going to see a big crunch? May be, but -may be- we have already had a big crunch, it just went un-noticed because of the parallel expansion. There have been hundreds (thousands) of internet companies that went out of business but they are, in general, so small that we hardly notice.
This may change after the inflection point as the ecosystem will see more and more aggregation taking place (is the emergence of the AppStore a first indication of this aggregation?) and at that point it will be easier to notice any crunch.