Posts from mobile

Trends

I like to look at Google Trends from time to time to see what it can tell me about things. I realize that search keyword activity is only one data point in a complex system and that with the move to mobile, it is less important than it was in the web only era. And people search for things when they want them. Once they have them, the search volume goes down. But I still think Google Trends can reveal some interesting things.

Here are some queries I ran today:

Facebook and Google are battling it out for video supremacy, but this query really doesn’t tell us very much about where that battle is going and how it will end. It is interesting to note that YouTube has been a mature but stable business for a long time now.

Twitter and the smartphone seem to have risen with a similar curve and are now in decline, with Twitter falling a bit faster than smartphones.

We see a similar shaped curve with Facebook, but the order of magnitude is quite different which is why I did not combine it with the previous chart.

December 2013 sure seems like the high water mark for the mobile social sector.

But not all boats go out with the receding tide.

Here is Snapchat and Instagram, with Twitter thrown in for scale comparison

It will be interesting to see when Instagram and Snapchat start flattening off. My gut tells me Instagram may already be there but we just don’t see it in the data yet.

Moving on from the past to the future, here are some of the sectors that entrepreneurs and VCs are betting on as the next big thing:

If you take out the VR term and look at the other three, you see something that looks like the NCAA football rankings over the course of a season. Each team/term has had a moment at the top but it remains unclear who is going to prevail.

If we look at one of the most interesting coming battles in tech, the voice interface race, the data is less clear.

I think we haven’t really gotten going on this one. But it is an important one as Chris Dixon explained in a really good blog post last week.

My semi regular Google Trends session today confirms what I’ve known for a while and have written here before. We are largely moving on from mobile and social in terms of big megatrends, video is being played out now, and its not yet clear what is going to emerge as the next big thing. Google is betting on AI and I tend to agree with them on that. Voice interfaces may be a good proxy for that trend.

Feature Friday: Fingerprint Phone Access

One of the things that I was sad about losing as I moved from iPhone to the Nexus 6P was the ability to unlock my phone with my thumb.

But it turns out that the Nexus 6P also has fingerprint phone access. It’s not a thumb on the home button, it’s your index finger on the upper back of the device.

So I’ve been using the Nexus 6P for about a week now and I have to say that the index finger on the back of the phone is in many ways a more natural place for the fingerprint scan. It’s easier when you have the phone in your hand than reaching over with your thumb.

There are a few situations where the back of the phone is less desirable, most notably when the phone is lying on a table. And I haven’t yet purchased a case for my phone but I wonder if the Nexus 6P cases have an opening for the fingerprint scan. I would hope they do.

If your phone doesn’t have a fingerprint scan device for unlocking your phone and your high security apps, then you should really get one that does and check it out. It’s a great feature.

Forevery and Dropbox

I blogged about our portfolio company Clarifai‘s Forevery app a while back.

Forevery is an iOS app that lets you search your photo library and do a bunch of other cool things.

One feature I really wanted was Dropbox integration. I back up all my smartphone photos to Dropbox and have been doing that for years. But searching for the one that I want has been really hard.

Now with Forevery’s Dropbox integration it is drop dead simple.

Here’s the blog post from the Forevery team explaining how this works.

If you want to download and try Forevery, you can do that here.

New Disqus iOS App

Disqus, the USV portfolio company that powers the comments/community here at AVC, released an iOS app this past week. You can download it here.

The Disqus mobile app has two primary features.

The first is the ability to follow channels and discover content and conversations in those channels.

Here’s a screenshot of my home tab which features this discovery capability:

disqus home tab

The second primary feature, and possibly more interesting to the AVC community, is the notifications tab where you see your comments and related activity:

notifications tab

notifications activity

I have found that Disqus works really well on the mobile web now (a big improvement over where it was a few years ago) and so I mostly review and respond to comments in line in the browser, but it’s nice to have this mobile app to be able to read and respond quickly to all of your activity.

I expect that Disqus will follow with an Android app in due course and I also believe they will add features for the publishers (ie me) into these mobile apps as well.

The Kik Bot Platform

Our portfolio company Kik launched its bot platform today. Kik has supported bots for several years but they were limited to bots from publishers and brands that were willing to make a significant effort to be on the Kik platform.

What is new today is that any developer can build a bot for the Kik platform. Details and tools are available to do that at dev.kik.com. And once you build your bot for Kik, it is available in the bot store in Kik.

kik bot shop

Kik has been innovating in the “chat as a platform” space for three or four years now. They have been a real pioneer in this area. You may recall Kik Cards which are html micro apps that run natively in Kik which has its own built in browser. Cards still exist but Kik found out that “chatting” is the more native user behavior in chat apps so conversing with a bot turns out to be more powerful than running a micro web app in a messaging app. That said, Kik still supports cards for bots that need to display content as part of its user experience.

Kik is also leveraging its “Kik codes” to make bots easily discoverable and shareable. Here is an example of a Kik code:

build your bot

So if you own a retail store, restaurant, etc you could put your Kik code sticker on your window and your customers and walk-by traffic could communicate with your bot and get offers, coupons, etc.

I am expecting developers to turn their attention to bots in the coming months as multiple chat platforms will be supporting them. Right now in the US, you have Kik, Slack, and Telegram supporting bots natively on their platforms. And most everyone expects Facebook to launch their own bot platform at the upcoming F8 event.

And there are quite a few bot development platforms emerging that will allow developers to “write once, run many” so you can build a bot for all of these platforms instead of having to choose one or the other.

So it may well be that we are going from websites>native mobile apps>bots as the dominant way users will interact with your business. At least many people are projecting that. I am proud that Kik’s team continues to lead and innovate in this sector.

What Android Phone Should I Get?

We are heading back to NYC tomorrow and, among other things, that means I can end my 6 months on iOS. I force myself to spend six months of the year on iPhone to make sure I’ve got my head wrapped around that platform and how it is changing and evolving. But I feel like it costs me a pretty significant productivity hit and I am eager to get back on Android.

So I need to decide which phone I am going to get. I am thinking of buying a Nexus 6P directly from the Google Play Store. But I am open to other ideas and would welcome them.

Here are my needs/desires:

  1. Phablet form factor/size
  2. Stock Android (no bloatware from carrier issued phones)
  3. Unlocked device that can run on any carrier
  4. Lots of memory (at least 64GB)

So with those needs/desires, what phone should I get?

The Flatiron District

In 1996, Jerry Colonna and I decided to call our venture capital firm Flatiron Partners (it was code named Acme Ventures). We named it after the Flatiron Building and decided to locate in the neighborhood with the same name. We moved down there a bit later and I immediately was smitten with the neighborhood. I have made my office there ever since. It’s twenty years now.

The thing I immediately noticed about the Flatiron district upon moving there was that it was unlike midtown manhattan, where I had worked for the previous ten years. The Flatiron district was about half residential and half business. And the businesses ranged from small photo studios to fledgling internet companies to accounting firms and therapist offices. The building that USV is now located in was full of photo studios in 1996. I don’t think there is a single one left.

The other thing that I love about the neighborhood is that it stays open late. The streets are full of restaurants, cafes, and bars. I can leave my office at 11pm and wander into any one of the local spots and they are still humming. That was true when we arrived in 1996 and it remains true today.

Working in the Flatiron district is like working in a residential neighborhood. You have grocery stores, dry cleaners, bodegas, and preschools. When you walk the streets, you see strollers and couples holding hands.

I thought of the Flatiron district when I read this MIT Technology Review article about a follow up study to Jane Jacobs’ seminal work on the vitality of cities by some University of Toronto researchers. The new work is called The Death and Life of Great Italian Cities: A Mobile Phone Data Perspective. These University of Toronto researchers used mobile phone data supplied by our portfolio company Foursquare and a few other data sources to study the vitality of a number of Italian cities.

Jane Jacobs says that for cities to thrive they need four conditions:

The first is that city districts must serve more than two functions so that they attract people with different purposes at different times of the day and night. Second, city blocks must be small with dense intersections that give pedestrians many opportunities to interact. The third condition is that buildings must be diverse in terms of age and form to support a mix of low-rent and high-rent tenants. Finally, a district must have a sufficient density of people and buildings.

The Flatiron district is the perfect example of Jane’s four conditions. I bump into people I know and don’t but should literally every day on the streets of the Flatiron district. It’s a mixed use neighborhood and though it has been gentrified a lot in the past twenty years (rents have gone from $15/sf to $75/sf in some buildings over those twenty years), it remains as vital today as when we arrived. I’d like to see the Foursquare data on the Flatiron district. I suspect it would be off the charts on the Jane Jacobs score!

Podcasts I Like

Living in LA this winter has been a boon to my podcast listening and discovery. I get in the car, fire up SoundCloud on my phone, and start listening. This past weekend I listened to three new podcasts that I thought I’d share with all of you.

Unlisted With Brad Inman

Brad Inman‘s Inman News has been covering the real estate industry for as long as I’ve been interested in the real estate industry. Brad’s relationships and insight into the world of real estate are unmatched. Unlisted With Brad Inman is Brad’s weekly podcast. In this episode he talks with an economist at StreetEasy about the NYC residential real estate market. If you own real estate in NYC or are thinking of buying or renting in NYC, you should listen to it. The “hot, medium, cold” thing at the end of this podcast is really great.

 

The VinePair Podcast

VinePair is a website about beer, wine, and spirits. Their podcast is about the business side of the industry and this episode is about the rise and fall and rise again of Irish Whiskey. It’s really well done.

 

Studio 1.0

Studio 1.0 is Emily Chang‘s podcast on Bloomberg Business. In this episode she talks with Showtime’s CEO David Nevins about the TV business and all the changes that are going on. If you watch a lot of Netflix, HBO, Showtime, Amazon, etc, you will enjoy this interview.

The amazing thing is the diversity and quality of podcasts you can listen to these days. If you want to get into podcasts, get the SoundCloud app and start following these podcasts and others and they will just show up in your feed each week and you can listen when you are behind the wheel, in the gym, on the subway, etc.

Feature Friday: Simplified Conference Call Dialing

I was in a board meeting last fall and was bemoaning how challenging it is to dial into a conference bridge with long pin numbers on your phone (particularly when you are driving). My friend Jordy said “Get MobileDay”. So I downloaded MobileDay and that issue has been fixed ever since.

It’s a simple and well executed app. You connect your smartphone calendar to MobileDay and it pulls all the dial-in info into the MobileDay app and does all of the magic to make the dial in as simple as pushing one button.

Here’s a call in the MobileDay app that I need to call into at noon pst today:

mobileday

All that I need to do is hit that big phone button. MobileDay will do the rest.

If you have this challenge in your life, I will say to you what Jordy said to me “Get MobileDay.”

Video Of The Week: Why Ida Tin Started Clue

I’m a big fan of our portfolio company Clue which is trying to improve women’s reproductive health and planning with their super popular mobile app.

Here’s a short video (< 2 mins)  that was posted a couple days ago where founder Ida Tin explains why she started Clue.