Marc Andreessen: Apple has hit an absolute home run

One of Silicon Valley’s most influential venture capitalists has seen the future of wearable computers and it is Apple.

Two minutes transcribed from Talent, TechTrends, and Culture, the final a16z podcast of 2018:

Q: What’s the potential in wearables?

A: I think the really big one right now is audio. Audio is on the rise and particularly Apple with the AirPods has hit just an absolute home run. It’s one of the most deceptive things because it’s just like this little product and how important could it be? I think it’s tremendously important. Because it’s basically a voice in your ear any time you want it. [emphasis mine]

I’ll give you just one random example. There are these new kinds of YouTube celebrities and everybody’s wondering where do people get all this spare time to watch all these YouTube videos and listen to all these YouTube people in the tens and tens of millions.  The answer is they’re at work. (audience laughs) They’ve got a bluetooth thing in their ear and they’ve got a hat and it’s ten hours on the forklift. Ten hours of Joe Rogan.

That’s a big deal. A voice in your ear at all times.

And then of course speech as a UI is rapidly on the rise. So I think audio is going to be titanically important.

The second thing I would nominate for wearables is the concept of sensors on the body. Here the Apple Watch is clearly out in the lead with what they’re doing with the heartbeat sensor. But I think we’ll have a full complement of medical-grade sensors on our bodies—in a way that we’ve chosen to—over the next five or 10 years. I think we’ll get to the point where we’ll be able to do things like predict heat attacks and strokes before they happen.

Talk about a killer app! “Beep. I’m going to have a heart attack in four hours. Maybe I should drive to the hospital.”

The survival rate for heart attack in the hospital is like 99%.  The survival rate for heart attack at home is like 50%. There’s an opportunity for a massive increase in quality of life with the sensor platforms that people are going to have.

Then I think optics are coming. It’s going to be a long road, but I think AR and VR are both going to work and I think we’re going to have heads-up displays.

My take: That’s just the Apple part. The other 36 minutes are pretty good too.

If you don’t know who Andreessen is or why his opinion matters, here’s the first paragraph of his Wikipedia entry:

Marc Lowell Andreessen is an American entrepreneur, investor, and software engineer. He is the co-author of Mosaic, the first widely used Web browser; co-founder of Netscape; and co-founder and general partner of Silicon Valley venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz. He founded and later sold the software company Opsware to Hewlett-Packard. Andreessen is also a co-founder of Ning, a company that provides a platform for social networking websites. He sits on the board of directors of Facebook, eBay, and Hewlett Packard Enterprise, among others. Andreessen was one of six inductees in the World Wide Web Hall of Fame announced at the First International Conference on the World-Wide Web in 1994


  1. Gregg Thurman said:

    Andreeson’s comments are all about innovation. That got me to thinking about how he, as a technologist, recognized Apple’s products as innovative while the media hasn’t.

    Looking back it suddenly occurred to me that the media didn’t see the Macintosh coming, and when it did it was soundly criticed. Yet the Macintosh didn’t just change computing, it changed how we think of computing devices.

    The same thing can be said about the iPod (to big and expensive and doesn’t support public music download sites), the iPhone (to expensive and no buttons and it doesn’t support Flash), the iPad (it doesn’t support gaming ala xBox or PlayStation and isn’t a real computer), the Apple Watch (to expensive and not as capable as Fitbit), Apple Music (only works on Apple products and no “free” tier).

    My point is that, as a class, the media has no inkling of what is on the horizon and when it arrives they are incapable of recognizing it.

    And from this vantage point they criticize Apple as no longer able to innovate, ignoring that the most revolutionary innovations of our lifetime (see above) have all come from Apple.

    January 7, 2019
    • Mark Visnic said:

      Not just the media – they might be excused to some extent, take Philip, for example 😉 – but the sell-side and buy-side analysts for that matter, don’t appear to have much of a clue about Apple’s innovativeness.

      I don’t mean anyone outside of Apple should have intimate knowledge of innovative products before they are launched but, how is it that analysts largely don’t comprehend the innovative character of the company or the innovation in launched products?

      There are analysts like Horace, Neil Cybart, Ben Bajarin, Robert, and even Gene Munster who understand the edge Apple has. They are in the minority among their peers. They understand Apple’s cash and corporate culture enable innovation. The culture was inculcated with SJ’s emphasis on design and innovation. Their products, as you identified them, prove it. They have tremendous innovation optionality and not many see it. It is nothing short of baffling.

      January 7, 2019
    • John Konopka said:

      Horace talked about management versus leadership. Managers work to maintain the status quo, to do the obvious. Leadership is taking things in a new direction.

      I I think that almost by definition most people are managing, keeping things going, rather than looking at dropping everything and trying something new.

      January 8, 2019
  2. George Ewonus said:

    Have to agree with Marc. Had a YouTuber in the family – and the AirPods were always in while they were working on videos – and then in later when just watching.

    January 7, 2019
  3. Fred Stein said:

    It’s great to see a visionary like Andreessen endorse what Apple has.

    The Watch and the AirPods are ‘next little things’. While little in size and revenue, now, both have commanding leads in new categories, measured by market share and underlying technology. Few analysts, or journalists, see this, because they transfix on short term iPhone unit sales reports.

    That said, Siri needs a lot of work to make this new UI, speech, work.

    January 7, 2019

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