Mobile First Web Second (continued)

PandoDaily has it right in this post. Mobile usage of many categories has surpassed web usage. Games and Social Networking are absolutely in this category. Others are headed there fast.

This post by our portfolio company Flurry, which is the leader in mobile analytics, has some good data on that front. News and entertaiment are probably next.

Yesterday I left a meeting and I wanted to update our "deal log" on google docs. Normally I would go back to my office, go to google docs in my browser, and make that update. But for some reason, I decided just to open google drive on my android, make the entry, and be done with it. It was easier and I did it in real-time.

That's the thing about mobile. It is always with you. And developers and designers are getting really good at making the experiences on the small screen simple and easy enough that you can and will use them instead of the big screen.

I've seen my kids make this move over the past year and written about that many times here at AVC. But I am also seeing myself make that move more and more. As PandoDaily says, the web 2.0 era is in decline and mobile has arrived as the dominant user interface to the Internet. That's a big deal.


Comments (Archived):

  1. awaldstein

    I’m not all the way there yet but it’s a goal.What drives me is convenience but also that mobile breaks down the off/online paradigm. That poise feels like the future to me.Always puzzled that calendar apps like Meetup don’t seem to be mobile oriented. Any thoughts on this?

    1. fredwilson

      it’s a big miss for meetup. they had better get going and fast.

      1. awaldstein

        Calendars as social objects as a platform for community is a trend. An important one. They are letting this happen without participating in it. Big fan of Meetup. They feel static. 

        1. markslater

          calendars are about to be very important social objects. Without realizing it – people are using calendaring with businesses every day – the most obvious is open table. Reservations are shared calendars between 2 parties. Wait until these calendars become shared objects on a chat platform. We are already working on businesses being able to share smart calendars with people who have gestured an interest in chatting – simply pick the time you want you teeth cleaned or your hair cut – right within the chat module (java) and be on your way. We see bookings (calendaring) and payments as key features that businesses will enable on our platform – they are asking for it now. 

          1. awaldstein

             Couldn’t agree more.I’m prototyping a marketplace based around this.Anything you care to share, I’d love to see or talk about.

          2. markslater

            we are integrating with a software that optimizes for ebbs and flows in a businesses calendar. Slower times dynamically become cheaper etc, and you’ll see that when you are presented with the smart app on the platform. 

          3. awaldstein

            I can internalize this only at an abstract level. When you have the bandwidth and inclination, I’m interested.

  2. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

    Excellent title comparing “Internet is Dead” or “Web 2.0 is Over”.

  3. Laurent Boncenne

    I’m a bit frustrated by this overall habit for new projects/startups of developing their apps first and then provide a web interface.While I agree that a lot of things we do with our laptops or desktops can easily be done in less than a minute on your phone, the true succession to web 2.0 is ubiquity.With the “Mobile first” strategy, teams and startups focus on the most popular of the bunch, usually only apple, if successful enough, you get Android. But that’s basically equals to vendor lock-in. If one is to adopt this strategy, it should mean full mobile support.Apple, Android, Windows Phone, BlackBerry, Symbian, Palm (to an extent) and at the very least a mobile friendly version for all smartphone who isn’t to reliant on webkit vendor prefixes (see the news on Opera announcing support of webkit prefixes…).It’s painful, to be a user in this era, and be punished because you’re different.I’m all for this strategy of mobile first, but the desktop web isn’t even close to dead yet!I too like you have gone full cloud, I don’t have Office or anything like that installed anymore, instead I have dropbox, skydrive and google drive. All of my documents are in the cloud so I can view or edit them or share them wherever I want.But I have a Windows Phone and I can guarantee you that those startups claiming to be “mobile first”, I ain’t seeing nothing of that, not even a mobile site (that doesn’t screw up because my mobile browser isn’t safari, which is ironic, why make an iOS app and a mobile site that’s only properly visible to an iPhone owner?)The desktop web might be coming to an end, but whatever computer I have, whatever OS I use, I can still use that web. I can’t with the mobile approach, and that’s painful.So, To devs reading this, entrepreneurs reading this (hopefully), don’t claim yourself as a mobile first startup if you ain’t supporting the majority, and the majority is not iOS, it’s the web, accessible from any smartphone out there, free of all vendors prefixes, app stores of any kind.

    1. Scott Belsky

      Developing for the device first has another benefit: It forces you to keep the interface simple. In the design process, the limited size (and space for interaction) of a mobile screen forces you to strip down the feature set. Whereas your product is more liable to get cluttered if your first version is the web version.Designing your product for mobile first is a valuable excise in boiling down your product and user experience to what is most important.

      1. Laurent Boncenne

        Sure, I agree completely with you.It’s something many site of the early days should be doing right now, but that doesn’t mean you should focus 100% on iPhone and consider other platforms afterwards. Limiting your application/site availability to a single platform hurts the user in the end, and the very same user shouldn’t be blocked by his choice of smartphone…

    2. Timothy Meade

      I can’t figure Google out. They launch drive, okay, they have Chrome OS, they have a Google Apps store with a 30% cut.They seem to be missing two things:1. A proxy server to act as an ActiveDirectory server integrating all the legacy Windows and Mac desktops directly into Google Apps user management.2. An HDMI dongle that incorporates a mobile processor and Chrome OS (with a sandboxed Android implementation) and comes free with a year enterprise subscription the first year. Use it to deliver Google App, Native Client and Android apps through a new Google MarketplaceGoogle can own this space, they already have companies putting their entire user database in Google Apps, companies that run a Windows network and servers on premises only to run Exchange and allow domain sign-in. (I’ve worked for a few companies where all dev servers are hosted or cloud but the IT people spend too much time managing local stuff.)More importantly, Google Apps is a delivery platform for enterprise SaaS software. They could wait for Salesforce to steal this market or Microsoft to catch up, or they could jump on it.

      1. JamesHRH

        There missing only one thing: strategic direction.They are trapped in their success and fast following innovation instead of doing what Dr. C tells them to do – attack a market from the flank or bottom.First into the mind of the market wins – especially online & with network models.

  4. Laurent Boncenne

    @awaldstein most likely because mobile OSes don’t let you directly tap into the main calendar app, instead you have to have an app for each calendar focused app you’re using (meetup,, doodle etc…), and it’s a bit silly don’t you think? why have 10 apps for the same functionality where it should be synced altogether?Edit: I tried replying directly to Andrew and it doesn’t seem to be working…. a bug in Disqus 2012 maybe?

    1. awaldstein

      Thanks Laurent.I’ve just addressed this for a project and the reality of calendar aps being web rather than mobile based puzzled me.There is also the reality that for some behaviors, mobile would certainly augment user adoption but market proof can be determined with a simple web approach first. 

      1. leigh

        A Web/App developer friend of mine is always ranting about this.  He says people insist on apps when a mobile site in some cases is smarter, cheaper, cross platform etc.  Shiny object or marketing strategy?

        1. Laurent Boncenne

          Both most likely, easier way to implement a paywall (paid app) too.

        2. awaldstein

          I just sweated through this decision.If you are looking to discover the viability of a behavior across a broad market, that proof point is the driver. Minimum Viable Behavior is a valid thought process for platform choice.

          1. William Mougayar

            Minimum viable behavior results in minimum viable app engagement, right?

          2. awaldstein

            Not necessarily.Think Tumblr or Twitter for even Facebook for a sec. There is one thing in each that drives me to use it. The action verb. The behavior expressed.From there it tumbles forward and have differing degrees of engagement which in total define my connection to the platform or community.This is true as I discover engagio. I go there to have a personal lens on my engagements cross web. Other pieces of value are surfacing quickly and coloring my relationship to the core value.

      2. Laurent Boncenne

        =)Another issue which just came to me is the eventual programming language the web app and subsequent API it’s coded in. It’s not a huge problem in itself but I think some devs are a bit lazy on that side and it’s understandable.I’m currently providing feedback for a location based service and their approach is web first (which suits me well given that they would likely support iOS and Android first and not Windows Phone…), but i’m very interested to see how this pans out, given that their project would make a killing with a mobile first strategy (essentially the core of what they provide is deeply attached to having a mobile at hand).I’ve noticed they were using aspx for their web app, and I’m thinking they might be going with the BizSpark program for Microsoft, which might make things a bit complicated for a platform agnostic service if you’re primarily an M$ shop… might be the same reason for many startups out there.

        1. Timothy Meade

          There are thinks in Microsoft’s web platform that would work well with mobile but you have to get beyond aspx pages.BizSpark looks like an extension of those strategies to put Visual Studio in college CS student’s hands, trapping the mind in an endless follow cycle of Microsoft technologies which lag behind most of the open source frameworks.

          1. Laurent Boncenne

            I know, that was my point; I was pointing out that somes apps might suffer from their choice of platform/framework etc when it comes to developing a mobile counterpart to their desktop website if for example you’re an MS shop and all your stack is comprised of MS tech. Not exactly the easiest thing to convert to an iOS app in an instant. That said, it makes writing an app for windows phone a lot easier =)

  5. leigh

    There’s been a lot in the news lately about big data, social data and fast data.  What they happen to be missing is mobile data.  

  6. Tom Labus

    Some work requires contemplation and maybe isolation.I wouldn’t want my law firm writing M&A docs or and appeal on their phones on the subway.  Other stuff is great like quick changes and scheduling.

    1. fredwilson

      i want to review and comment on those M&A docs on the subway

      1. Tom Labus

        Tablets/phones are still ‘consuming’ devices for me at this point.

        1. fredwilson

          less and less for me these days as the apps get better

  7. Arthur Welf

    I think mobile and web 2.0 are not in opposition. Web 2.0 means social, where people interact each other and their activity creates the core content. So, the term web 2.0 is not about design or way of consumption of content, but about the way of creating content. And mobile is about a channel of consumption of content, regardless whether it is web 1.0 or web 2.0 content.

    1. awaldstein

      Apps are indeed about content consumption. There’s early innovation to build mobile based community but it’s still an idea chasing a behavior. This gap will close I’m certain.

      1. Timothy Meade

         Apple was the company that got that third-party apps, especially content creation apps, were the key to their platform.The certainly got really good at delivering first-party consumption only services (iTunes) but that has also acted as a delivery channel for third-party content creation apps (such as Instagram and other world capture software)

    2. fredwilson

      i would disagree slightly. mobile is where activity creates the core content more and more these days. mobile is not just about consumption. that’s the whole point.

      1. Arthur Welf

        I agree. But content created by users from mobile apps is still web 2.0 content, because it was created by users. Mobile is only another channel of creating and consumption of web 2.0 content ;).

        1. sigmaalgebra

          That Web 2.0 data in the server farm of a Web 2.0 Web site remains important, and a mobile device is one class of client devices for getting at the Web 2.0 data. Maybe some of what is really different and significant about a mobile client for Web 2.0 is that the device has GPS, a microphone, a camera, etc.; such data can be important for some Web 2.0 or Web apps.

  8. kidmercury

    yes. and, because mobile is so platform-centric — meaning iphone vs android is way different than safari vs chrome — i think it leads to the rise of multiple webs/app internet. i think there will be many ecosystems designed for niche use. huge opportunity in hardware here, IMO. 

    1. Timothy Meade

       and nobody is targeting Android with anything new, we get the second run but probably make up a majority of the market (thanks to Verizon)I see as Android as a tool, not a generative platform like iPhone I think that’s the reason why, and the creatives and developers of original software are using iPhone. (Same with Mac, the most original software was always for Mac and PC developers followed Microsoft’s inability to innovate)

      1. fredwilson

        yeah, its tough to be a VC when you use an android with everything new coming out on iOS first.

        1. William Mougayar

          Actually I just checked, and the Google Drive is not available on the iPhone yet. That makes me jaleous of Android users for the first time.

          1. fredwilson

            one of the many reasons i use android is i am 100% on google apps, mail, calendar, contacts, docs, spreadsheets, etc, etc, etcand they all work much better on android

          2. Noone

            Same company, hardly a design usability choice.

      2. kidmercury

        android is meant to be forked — i think other companies will copy amazon’s strategy here and launch their own integrated system by forking android. i agree that android is a tool, but i think it is a tool for creating an integrated ecosystem. 

        1. Timothy Meade

          Quite. I’ve been following android’s development through IRC since the G1 was released and reading source code and discussing the platform with developers and others. AOSP was designed to be forked like that, though I’m sure Google regrets that in some fashion at this point. Amazon might actually be the winner here. The no name android tablets all run an outdated derivative of AOSP on equally outdated hardware (didn’t stop Microsoft from extracting a patent royalty though). The platform numbers for Android are meaningless, beyond activation Google has no control over so many of the devices, which have little to no attachment rate and are sold as cheap junk on sites like It shouldn’t surprise anybody that the Kindle Fire is succeeding, but that does nothing for Google or for Android. And oddly, the tech press eats this story up as if these things should surprise anybody. It would be easy to imagine Google has a core strategy around something other than the Facebook half-clone, but I’m not sure that’s the case, too many things say otherwise. It’s as if Android just fills a gap left by Window Mobile and the various proprietary Linux-based OSs that never got of the ground. The carriers needed a platform, and the manufacturers needed something to take on iPhone. The OHA was just a show of hands to outsiders, there was no there there. The real integration was T-Mobile and HTC with Google, then later Motorola with Verizon (Google being on the periphery there). I know this from what source code is released from what channel and what devices the developers actually talked about. (One mentioned a drawer full of G1s, I heard nothing similar about the sholes) Android isn’t a VC friendly platform, actually it mayhave been the final spark to get Mark to that meeting with Instagram butI’m not sure about that either, that seems to be driven by Gates’ “garage”hypothesis” and the foresight Facebook management has exhibited when itcomes to what will eventually kill it. They bought a few years for $1B.I like you’re thinking overall and we could probably have some veryinteresting discussions.I’ll end with this: “never attribute to malice what can be adequatelyexplained by incompetence”

        2. Sanat Patel

          Android is Open for others to build an eco-system, but being forked makes it difficult to produce anything of Real value for a large group…especially when You are their Product rather than a Consumer. Not a very consumer-centric solution.Amazon is “copying” Apple’s eco-system…luckily Amazon Has an eco-system to plug Fire into, even if the hardware is at a loss…for their sake, hopefully they can sustain this model.

  9. Cam MacRae

    That Pando post is confused. There is no great distinction between mobile and online. With the exception of games, most apps boil down to highly evolved SSBs – hell, just about all of their data is over HTTP.What we’re seeing instead is the decline of a form factor, namely the PC.

    1. Luke Chamberlin

      I disagree. Instagram, Foursquare, Twitter, etc don’t work on a desktop the way they do on mobile. I would argue that they couldn’t exist before the mobile age.

      1. William Mougayar

        Foursquare’s desktop version is really good now & much improved especially the Discovery features.

        1. markslater

          mobile first web second – but don’t leave out the web.

          1. fredwilson

            i agree mark. totally.

          2. markslater

            a guy in the comments below got it even better @twitter-41899343:disqus said :it should be API first mobile second…this is absolutely correct.

          3. fredwilson

            he is right

        2. Luke Chamberlin

          I agree on the discovery feature but Foursquare wouldn’t exist without the check-ins.

          1. William Mougayar

            Both are needed. Checkins are INPUT, Explore is OUTPUT.

          2. Luke Chamberlin

            The desktop explore is complementary but not essential, the check-ins are essential to the core of the product, is my point.

          3. William Mougayar

            I think it may not be essential to the consumer, but it’s probably essential to their monetization with businesses.

          4. Luke Chamberlin

            @wmoug:disqus good point

          5. ShanaC

            How is explore Output?

          6. William Mougayar

            For the end-user, it’s something you read/consume as opposed to content you create which are Checkins, tips and lists.

          7. fredwilson

            foursquare is more and more about things other than the checkins. for the core rabid user, the checkin and the friends in your timeline will continue to be the core experience. but for many/most it will be about discovery based on metadata provided mostly by the rabid core users

          8. kidmercury

            i’m really looking forward to seeing what foursquare can do with that data. it seems to me there would be great opportunities to use that data to disrupt urban transportation, as well as build new cities (i.e. urban planning). that is what i find so exciting about internet companies, they can start with this one peculiar niche, acquire data, and then use this data to go in all sorts of directions. that and their mobile strategy is why i’m a big amazon fanboy. #amazonpride   

          9. Cam MacRae

            The immediacy and ordinariness is what is unique here. People have been checking-in as a means for play and discovery for 12 years – by geocaching. (Early Gowalla was even closer to geocaching).

        3. Laurent Boncenne

          Funnily enough, the web version of foursquare is much more practical to browse lists rather than browsing it on its mobile counterparts.The fact that they didn’t thought to filter the lists based on location when you’re viewing it on your phone is beyond me.

      2. Cam MacRae

        In the case of Foursquare & Twitter I disagree completely: the only difference is the form factor.Granted, the only thing I was ever able on Instagram’s site was delete my account after they announced the sale, but there plenty of photo sharing sites which enable frivolous snapshot sharing hot off my iSight. Again, the difference is form factor.Could Foursquare exist in it’s current form before the mobile age? Probably not, but that doesn’t validate the argument put forward by Pando.

        1. Luke Chamberlin

          You carry your laptop around the city checking-in to locations? You use your laptop’s iSight to take pictures of your friends?The difference isn’t form factor. It’s context. And the mobile context changes the usability of apps.First the devices changed, now the apps are changing.

          1. Cam MacRae

            No. Yes, many times.You’re too far ahead. The difference really is form factor, which in turn allows new and/or alternate contexts and permits different interaction models. However, there are few such contexts.The revolution is one of form factor, and cannot be viewed as some disconnect to online.

          2. Luke Chamberlin

            I can see your point from a high enough level (i.e. cars are the same as bicycles because they are both forms of transportation) but I see many mobile apps and desktop apps as functionally different.

          3. Cam MacRae

            @twitter-41899343:disqus As do I, but in the general case only marginally so.

    2. ShanaC

      Form informs function. I don’t suspect that will ever change.

      1. Cam MacRae

        We’ll all be quite lost if it does!

        1. ShanaC

          Right, but that would mean keeping some aspects of desktops around. Like keyboards.  And in some cases, ginormous screens 🙂

    3. Guest

      Let’s take a look:ClassPCCPURAMStoragePortsClassDesktopPC extends ClassPCPlugInMonitorPlugInKeyboardPlugInMouseClassLaptopPC extends ClassPCIntegratedMonitorIntegratedKeyboardIntegratedPointingDeviceClassTabletPC extends ClassPCIntegratedTouchScreenIt appears that the PC is not in decline it is still there but as you said it’s form factor is changing. It has become smaller. But the definition of a PC is still there – CPU, RAM, Storage, Ports.So much fun on a Saturday afternoon.

      1. ShanaC

        I loved this comment so much I forwarded to my bestie, who is getting phd in cs.  🙂

        1. Guest

          Cool. It also gives a kind of, chronological history of how things have transformed since the PC started. Creating object models is a blast!

  10. William Mougayar

    Mobile forces you to think about the very essential tasks for an App, and that’s a great usability test. Web 2.0 was a bad name – It should have been called The Social Web. When we are social, we are mobile. So, mobile is part of social. 

  11. Luke Chamberlin

    What’s interesting to me is the tension between HTML5 mobile web apps vs. OS-specific native apps. Companies are still confused about where to put their resources, and how their strategies should be different.Case in point: those pop-ups that encourage you to download the native apps when you’re on the mobile site. This would seem to imply that companies would rather have you use their native app. Or do they want you to use both?This is probably influenced by the uncertain business model (with the exception of games). Can you make more with a native app or over the mobile web? If you thought the move from print to digital was bad for news organizations, wait until the move from desktop to mobile, where advertisers are willing to pay very little.

    1. fredwilson

      apps are better right now. maybe not always. but certainly right now.

      1. Luke Chamberlin

        I find the monetization aspect interesting. At what point is the native app no longer worth paying 30% to Apple? Do we see an exodus after mobile browsers reach a certain point of performance? Do only certain categories of apps choose mobile html over native? What does this mean for the audiences and install bases they’ve built?(as you can see I’m full of questions today)

    2. Dan Cornish

      The popup prompting me to download a native app really pisses me off. Here I am browsing the web, jumping from one website to another, and then I want to read a story on the Post. I get a modal screen asking me to download the app. STOP IT!! I just want to read a story and move on. I am not interested in using an app as a bookmark for content.

      1. Luke Chamberlin

        And then they the make the “close” button tiny so you accidentally click on the popup and it loads the app store aarrrrggh…

      2. Timothy Meade

         Press Ctrl-D to make us your home page. It’s Web 0.9 again, companies are clueless and following the crowd.

    3. kidmercury

      i think it all depends on the nature of the business. some are better off focusing on html5, others are better with native apps. i think there are much greater monetization opportunities in native apps, so it may be something like HTML 5 to drive you to the paid experience with the OS app. 

    4. ShanaC

      Pure web mobile isn’t there . Plus.there aren’treal mobile ad formats for pure web mobile apps yet.

      1. Luke Chamberlin

        The tolerance for ads on mobile is low. It’s going to be difficult for publishers and those who rely on display ads when the majority of traffic shifts from web to mobile.

        1. ShanaC

          I’m not sure, I think if we get the targeting down well I think there is the open possibility that in the long term, branding will do much better in an internet format.

  12. mark6965

    i’ve heard some VC’s challenging the APP model. crowded, noisy, hard to stay on screen one etc etc.someone is going to come along and make an app that replaces entire categories of apps. 

    1. fredwilson

      i don’t like it very much either for all of those reasons. but we had better learn to live with it.

  13. John Best

    It’s certainly something that’s been on my mind. Is web 2.0 dead? Are we at the point that the technological inconvenience to live online mobilely is negligible?I agree that news and entertainment are next. I think the biggest example of that conversion is Flipboard. By visualising what the internet would look like as a mobile magazine Flipboard (for me) defines the mobile-first mentality. I do, however, think that they’ve missed a trick, I believe Flipboard could already be becoming anachronistic – they have after all re-imagined web 2.0 as an app magazine. As our online experience changes, and mobile becomes the default window into our online world, I suspect that Flipboard’s emulation of web 2.0 will look dated. It’s a great bridge between the old and new interfaces, but as we visit the older one less, is the bridge going to be necessary? This is one of the things we’re hoping to address with what we’re building (without going into any real detail at all 😀 ).

    1. fredwilson

      “i agree with you more than you agree with yourself”JLM

      1. John Best

        They’ve built this slick mobile interface, and used it to emulate an abstraction of the previous generation. I think its potentially risky.  

    2. William Mougayar

      Have you tried the new Twitter app for the iPhone. The Discover tab is starting to look like FlipBoard.

      1. John Best

        I think that’s good news for them. Either as a vindication of the idea, or as a potential exit.

  14. MartinEdic

    I wish I could share your enthusiasm for Google docs mobile but frankly it stinks. With all the resources they have you’d think they could spend a little effort on Docs for iPad. It’s simply terrible. I really think Google is a company that lost their way long ago due to an almost impenetrable arrogance on the part of their founders.

    1. bsoist

      I’ve used Google spreadsheets on the iPhone occasionally and it’s about as fun as poking myself in the eye. Docs doesn’t make me feel the same way.I think Google is loosing its mind. I am increasing frustrated with the multiple accounts problem. It’s maddening.

  15. Carl J. Mistlebauer

    I had a conversation like this with my nephew just the other day; he is writing up an internet based “marketing strategy” for a class and he hopes to implement the strategy this summer for the family business.I told him that his family business or “client” needs mobile not the traditional website.  I told him to think of a website as nothing more than an ad in the yellow pages.  A website, much like a telephone book, sits at home on a shelf and its never available when you really need it because you cannot take it with you.  So, think mobile with everything you do both on the internet and off. I realize that I should have used the term “PC” vs. “Mobile” and quit referring to the internet as nothing more than “the yellow pages” and rather used the term “a PC” is nothing more than the yellow pages….

    1. fredwilson

      good advice to your nephew

      1. Carl J. Mistlebauer

        When you have a company policy of no cell phones on the plant floor and then you walk into the employee breakroom during a break you notice that EVERYONE has a cellphone and they are busy accessing it. You also notice that if someone gets something they are more apt to share, to pass around their cell phone, they also trade apps and at least twice a week there is a discussion about features and all the things their cellphones do to make their life easier.We are not talking the AVC community but rather quite a ways “downstream” from the AVC community. The only resistance I see is the over 55 year old crowd.That is real traction and real penetration…..

        1. Cam MacRae

          It’s amazing watching a non-technical 55+ who has just been handed an iPad – they get it in a way that they’ll never get a MacBook.

          1. Carl J. Mistlebauer

            Good point Cam…I noticed the same thing, but I didn’t bring it up because I only know 4 people who have IPads but all of them are over 55. Three of them rely on IPads more than they do their cell phones.

          2. ShanaC

            What do you think it means about the future of computing within that age group age?

          3. Carl J. Mistlebauer

            Well, lets be honest, in technology we have the 1% and then the 99% also. I think most older folks start off with IPads to read books and use the internet on a limited basis as they really have no need for a computer or they find the computer to be overkill. I think the real question is how “wired” the younger generation stays as they age….

          4. ShanaC

            @tao69:disqus The 99% question in technology is a huge one.  Access to jobs may be a problem now, but the 99% are going to lack access to other aspects of life sooner or later because of the technology gap, even if they own computing of various sorts.

      2. Carl J. Mistlebauer

        Actually I have decided to get out of the advice business altogether because I am starting to feel like “Uncle SIRI” or “Uncle Google Search.”Or maybe its my entertainment value, such as “..oh, lets put a quarter in my uncle and lets see what crazy stuff he comes up with….”I tell every young person I see to read AVC daily, especially the comments, because there is a wealth of information to ponder and think about….But I guess when you major in “entrepreneurship” then you are only a daydream away from success; so leave the heavy lifting to your elders….

    2. Guest

      I’m gonna’ go way out here… Don’t clobber me.Tell him to forget the internet and all devices and get inside the head of his prospective customers. Then he can use every media type available to broadcast his message.

      1. Carl J. Mistlebauer

        Hmm, “don’t clobber me” does that mean that I have a reputation for clobbering people? :)Honestly and from years of experience, “small business” is small because management and or owners think “small.””Small” thinking people gravitate to “small” businesses and they believe that “entrepreneurship” is nothing more than a parade celebrating “small” business and “small” thinking.The business in question is a laundry mat two blocks from a university. When I say “provide free wifi” and “how about adding a coffee house” to the laundry mat I am met with “but no one brings their computer” or “everyone goes brings their own coffee…” Or when I say, “why not add pick up service to your drop off service…”As they say, “you can bring a horse to water but you cannot make them drink” well, the same holds true for people and “small” businesses….Personally, I think I need to start charging my nephew a consulting fee, maybe then he would take my advice a little more seriously….If small businesses were not so small thinking then they would not have been conned by GroupOn. :)I also find it humorous that we equate age with close mindedness; if that was the case then I know a whole bunch of very old young people!

  16. bsoist

    It blows my mind sometimes, not from a technical standpoint, but in a “wow, isn’t that cool” sort of way – especially when I see my kids embrace mobile technology. One day on the way to a Mets game (we used to have season tickets which we gave up hoping that would spark some winning 🙂 ) my son typed an essay – in German! – on his iPhone. And then he handed it in by sharing it with his teacher. Then there was the time I realized that I essentially carry hundreds of books, tens of thousands of songs, and virtually all of my work around with me all the time. That was unthinkable not that many years ago.

    1. fredwilson

      our kids are showing us the future

      1. JamesHRH

        unfettered by prior habits.

    2. Tom Labus

      That’s amazing about your son.Was the essay good?  I mean could he concentrate?Mets may require voodoo to get good again. 

      1. bsoist

        He’s a brilliant kid, and I think he had worked out his ideas ahead of time a bit – but I know for a fact he hadn’t “written” any of it yet, because we had that conversation.I was hoping giving up my tickets would be the voodoo they needed. Didn’t work the past two years. 🙁

        1. ShanaC

          How.did that work from an input point of view. Typing is such a pain on a smart phone

          1. bsoist

            He was sixteen at the time. Teenagers type with furious speed on those things.

  17. Dan Cornish

    So, HTML5 or native apps?  I am voting on HTML5 with a local data store instead of a native app. If we stick with HTML5, then my developers can work on the entire stack at once, instead of breaking the app into an API, a Web interface and then separate apps for each platform. It is much more costly, and development coordination is more complex. I was at a meeting this week where I was the only one with a laptop. All other 10 folks had iPads. The interesting thing was this was not a tech company, but an old-line industrial company. 

    1. fredwilson

      i think its native for now. hopefully html5 soon.

    2. bsoist

      My last comment was in reply to yours about your meeting this week. I’m commenting from my Mac, so I can’t blame it on mobile. I’m almost certain I clicked “Reply.”I’ve written APIs for mobile apps and coordinated with all the different teams. I’m hoping HTML5 changes all that.

    3. Luke Chamberlin

      Your HTML5 developers should consider breaking the app into an API anyway (API first, mobile second).

      1. Dan Cornish

        Of course, the API is really the key. It allows us to speak to any app and any device. We need to integrate with ERP on premises, MS Office apps, other web apps and of course mobile. My point is that each platform we have to develop for requires a different skill set, and another code-base to support. HTML5 done well eliminates 2-3 different code-bases.

        1. markslater

          ok this is absolutely correctits API first, mobile second.

    4. Guest

      You need to create the “solution” first. Then generate the UI, etc. from that. Don’t waste money on doing a static app. Create a solution to the domain problem.

      1. Dan Cornish

        We have been creating the solution first for 12 years. Our entire development effort is changing to mobile first, web second.

        1. Guest

          Are you generating code? In other words you are just gonna’ write a translator that generates the new UI stuff.

  18. bsoist

    I regularly meet with five administrators at a school that I contract with. Four of the five use their iPads exclusively during the meeting. The other brings one with him, but uses a notepad and pen. (Oddly enough, he is the only one under 50 years of age – in his early 30s I think.)

  19. Dan Cornish

    Well I just hired a whole team of HTML5 developers. I’ll let you know how it works out.

    1. Guest

      Oh my… You should put a bit of thought into code generation from the design notation.

  20. aweissman

    I think one also needs to look into the various use cases from the outset and then built outward from there.  For example, sharing a picture of what I am seeing while the Shuttle flies by – thats mobile first (or even mobile “only”).  As is scanning twitter while waiting for the subway, or checking into a location.  Writing an essay analyzing US foreign policy – that might be a web first activity (though reading it is not, indeed books were the original mobile apps).  Learning how to write code – that in fact may be both.  Start with the activity first. 

    1. fredwilson

      yes, absolutelybut can you imagine a world where writing an essay on foreign policy happens best on mobile?i think we need to be imagining that world because i think we headed there

      1. fredwilson

        to go further, imagine that mobile is the CPU in your pocket and you’ve got heads up display glasses on and speech recognition as well. can you sit on your back deck and with your voice write that essay?

        1. aweissman

          Fair point.  But it is a fine line – I am sitting reading and writing this content on a laptop on a chair – untethered.  That’s a form of mobile too.

          1. Tom Labus

            Vladimir Nabokov wrote on 3×5 cards.  He made the English language (his second) dance better than anyone.  It’s the quality that attracts me not necessarily the delivery device.  Maybe he would have like the iPhone!

          2. aweissman

            What a great anecdote!

          3. awaldstein

            Great response.I read this as intent is always to communicate and that transcends or builds off of limitations. In this case the message may be stylized but is not dictated by the medium.Odd segue to Ionesco who wrote his great Theatre of the Absurd masterpiece ‘Rhinoceros’ in English which, rumor has it he taught himself as he wrote it.Quite a tangent 😉

          4. LE

            I organize and remind using 3×5 cards.  

          5. David Semeria

            Nice point. But the key part of the puzzle is the input device, not the output device.I’m willing to bet that – albeit after the unavoidable rush of the smartphone, we’ve all been there – Nabokov would have abandoned the unwinnable fight with the virtual keyboard and gone back to writing on his cards.At least that’s how I would go about it.

        2. Cam MacRae


          1. fredwilson

            sci fi is a big part of our crystal ball

          2. testtest

            agreed. creating is about looking out of a window of what can be, not looking in a mirror of what is now.

          3. Cam MacRae

            Definitely the most pleasurable form of prognostication.

          4. ShanaC

            Current recommendations?

          5. fredwilson

            i have the same question

        3. Timothy Meade

          We have heard the voice angle for years, companies have improved the experience, improved the technology, companies like Microsoft have dedicated large portions of their research budget to it. Siri is a killer app and a set of APIs that provide the next Siri with information in a semantically retrievable way are probably Web 4.0 (only say next Siri because I don’t see Apple opening it up, though it could be a repeat of the iPhone SDK, apps come later). But dictation has never succeeded in any form, Dragon Natural, IBM ViaVoice, too many corrections, too much stop and go and no natural flow to the text.I write a lot on a mobile, but I’m using a QWERTY device not an iPhone or similar screen only smartphone.When I consider the categories of mobile apps you highlight I see experiences we want repeated, utilities, where the virtue of having them as easily reachable applications on the device are obvious. I don’t think native is going away, though I do think a HTML5-based container could very well replace it when the WebGL APIs get fast enough on mobile browsers to provide the low ms responses and animations iPhone users are used to. As well as there being a delivery format for native-like installation of a website. (it’s Palm VII full circle). But I’m not sure that’s the distinction you are making here, between the desktop web and mobile not between mobile websites and apps. Another way to look at it is the web is a set of protocols which also drive the backend of mobile apps but it’s also something else, discoverable, linkable, and searchable. Unless a future Facebook/bing linkup makes searching the graph easier even when that graph is exported from Facebook/Insta-linked apps, or some other innovation pops out of WHAT-WG or Google, mobile search beyond location discovery seems to be a dead end. Where is the innovation there?

          1. Sanat Patel

            It is doubtful @fredwilson was describing the near-term future.I’ve designed Voice Rec for years and the promise of Voice-only interface is “5 yrs out ” has been going on for the last 15 yrs. But , like every disruption, people get hung up on a “revolution” of complete replacement of the incumbent platform/experience. Mobile has it’s place, as does Voice-enabled products, but the Desktop and keyboard won’t go away anytime soon.HTML5 won’t replace Native Apps, just like web interface front-ends couldn’t replace desktop applications as they have limits ( interface, feature-sets ).@aysmco has a terrific representation of the Pre-to Post-PC Era in a data visualization… and another he presented using an iPad @Asymconf

        4. Guest

          Great point… Take it a bit further…Focus on what you are creating (the essay). Then grab the best of the tools available at the time.

        5. RocketSpace

          I think when you use an app like clik which pushes your mobile to any screen you quickly see a world where a keyboard, mouse and screen is provided everywhere, home, office, hotel etc and you simply connect your mobile – it is your everything. phone, computer, TV, etc

          1. sigmaalgebra

            BYOMobile and borrow screen, keyboard, and Internet access!  NICE!

        6. LE

          can you sit on your back deck and with your voice write that essay?It doesn’t solve a problem that I have so not for me. It would require me to learn an additional way of doing something which I don’t need to do. Even in bed I use a laptop propped on a pillow. The ipad doesn’t balance correctly for me. But as mentioned that’s me. The way to get things like this adopted is to have them used in education first. Younger people who haven’t adopted other habits start to be able to think like this. But that is a long process and the process.(example of disqus edit window and lack of previewing please fix…)Many people for example, many companies, still haven’t adopted online bill paying even though it’s the greatest thing since ezpass and microwave ovens in terms of saving time. Why? They are comfortable in the old system and don’t have enough pain to switch and not enough to gain. (Death by a thousand papercuts type deal).

          1. Cam MacRae

            The fact you guys still use checks blows me away; I haven’t used a chequebook in 20 years!

          2. LE

             Who is “you guys?” Do you mean “some companies”? Keep in mind that a) not every bill can be paid online and so there is always still a  paper system b) people have legacy systems for any particular company it can involve major work to pay bills that way c) people are employed in bill paying etc.  d) the act of physically signing a check is the final step for many bill payers (say a small company with a bookeeper) in keeping on top and feeling comfortable with what they are paying for. Not saying it is right or there aren’t ways around that.

          3. Cam MacRae

            Ah yes, sorry, by you guys I mean the US.

        7. sigmaalgebra

          Generally a keyboard is STILL often by far the best tool.  I’d like something better than a keyboard, but I sure don’t want something worse.

        8. Anne Libby

          Or in a developing country, or from East New York, where you might be a user who only has mobile…

        9. panterosa,

          I just upgraded to 4S phone exactly for Siri and the ability to do this. I work with my hands so typing takes time away from that work, which I could do at same time as speaking my correspondence or notes/memos. 

        10. JamesHRH

          No, because speech recognition will not be adequate in my lifetime &, on my deck, I would rather have a drink with friends while watching the osprey pull mackerel out of the Strait.

        11. ShanaC

          No, I think I would have a harder time organizing my thoughts so that they weren’t so tangentalized.  I like writing things down, it makes me more focused about the topic at hand.

        12. K_Berger

          The problem I have with speech is that it takes something private and makes it public (since people around you can hear you).  I could see adapting to mobile if I could get a better form of input without carrying around an external keyboard.  Maybe if the mobile device could sense a virtual keyboard (although that still requires a surface to ‘type’ on). 

          1. fredwilson

            great point

        13. Mark Essel

          You’re not thinking “far out” enough, we desire an interface to go directly from thoughts into digital form.

          1. fredwilson

            you are right

          2. Carl Rahn Griffith

            Bloody hell, I hope we get some good filters in the middle 😉

      2. Aviah Laor

        The question when will nations have foreign policy straight forward enough for an essay on mobile. Can we imagine THAT? (sorry I couldn’t resist it)

        1. ShanaC

          I could. Memo writers are trained to write about the subject in 2 pages or less. Which may be the problem with foreign policy…

        2. fredwilson


        3. Carl Rahn Griffith

          Unlikely, when we live in an era where the iTunes licensing agreement is some 37 pages long… 😉

      3. ShanaC

        If that happens it is going to be through atext to speech input mechanism. It is too unwieldy otherwise.

      4. Guest

        Here’s a tangent to pursue:The essay on foreign policy happens in your head. The tool to get it into the three dimensional world we live in is just a piece of junk made of plastic.Always think about the objective first! Then pick the right tool for the job. Make the tool your slave instead of being a slave of the tool.That maybe an odd thought, but it’s something that hit me as I was reading your post.

        1. David Semeria

          No, I don’t think the essay is already “in your head”, in the same way that software code is not already in the programmer’s head.The very act of writing it down forces you to think about structure and flow (be it text or code).The beauty of the word processor was that it allowed you to change stuff around without putting a new piece of paper in the typewriter and starting over.So the ability to edit and “see” the logical flow is the key to structuring ideas

          1. Guest

            I meant it “happens in your head” before you put it on paper. I can “see” the essay and the code in my head before I put it on paper or in the computer.But, I’m trying more and more to use a “process” instead. It makes working a whole lot better. I don’t have to hide from the phone and other distractions if I document my thoughts as soon as I can. So, I agree with you, having that word processer and the process is great.Just curious, are you young enough to never have written anything of length on paper? Because, there is a mark up notation you can use that prevents you from starting over with a new piece of paper when you make a mistake.Thx for the reponse it’s great to discuss ideas!

      5. Carl J. Mistlebauer

        I find it hard to imagine a bunch of folks sitting around writing essays on foreign policy regardless of the device.  I think one thing we tend to forget is that as technology expands it changes us as individuals.  At one time the internet was viewed as a tool that would make a world of knowledge readily available to everyone but lets ask ourselves if it has, as a society as a whole, made us smarter or dumber?  Do we value knowledge the same way as we used to, lets say 30 years ago?  Do we value the same knowledge?  After email and text messages do we even know what an “essay” is?  The vast majority of Americans assume that they are spelling every word correctly because spell check did not catch it or they accept the results of their spreadsheet even though it should be obvious that their results are absurd because that’s what excel said was the right result.I cannot help but refer back to this infographic:<img src=”” width=”500″ border=”0″/>Created by: Forensic Psychology 

        1. Guest

          Yes, some people know what an essay is. But to others the description of an essay includes attributes like black ink, white paper, title page, etc. Those are the “consumer” people, they don’ t know what an essay is.

        2. Mark Essel

          Yet there have been breakthroughs in the composition of connectivity at scale, and knowledge extracted from those systems (big data). As a developer I concern myself less with individual function optimization, and more with overall system performance.Writing an essay took isolation, and there will always be talented essayists. Yet the isolation that lead to the careful and considerate thought that goes into an essay is becoming a rare beauty.

          1. Carl J. Mistlebauer

            Will there always be talented essayists? A well written essay is a work of art. It requires an audience that respects the art form.I fear with all the noise we will lose the ability to recognize “rare beauty” as we continue chasing quantity of existence for quality.

          2. Mark Essel

            You may be correct, the form may spark out for a time. But I don’t think even time and instant attention spans can terminate the quality of a fantastic essay. Here’s one of my favorites…It’s been 20 years since I first read it.

          3. Guest

            That is one of the great essays. I think that every generation has a “dark ages” period and then a “reniassance.” I think that with the advent of the IPad which has increased book reading by 20% already in its short history we might be on the verge of our reiassance. I do believe that IPad’s lend themselves better to solitary situations, such as reading (you really can’t curl up in a comfortable chair with your computer).

          4. Guest

            Moving from analog to digital usually ends up with some loss of quality.

      6. LE

        but can you imagine a world where writing an essay on foreign policy happens best on mobile?As someone who touch types fairly quickly and has never learned or gotten comfortable with dictating and editing the way an attorney does I can’t. But that’s me. I can see how others could though if over time this is the way they learn to think and get their thoughts in writing. I find it slows me down because the disqus edit box is to small and I can’t see everything I have written without using the mouse. As an aside I first learned to program and used an editor (unix -“ed”) which was command oriented. To this day I try to write routines which I can run from a terminal window. I find it faster then having to use a mouse in a web browser.

      7. JamesHRH

        No.I almost left it at that!Big Chill rule applies to mobile inout – people read War & Peace on the john, but they don;t finish it!What do you sense that signals this direction?

      8. falicon

        I agree but I don’t think you go far enough. I imagine a world where we write the essay without the writing part…conversation, verbal communication, and thought interaction with seemless/hidden tech. Is where we are heading…it’s just a long path to get there.

    2. William Mougayar

      Great observation Andy. The activity-first view is user-centric and the user is across the spectrum of mobile <—> desktop and anything in-between.

    3. Guest

      Right on.  I think people are too quick to jump to mobile first without examining the activity it’s for.  When I’m viewing pictures or shopping, fine, I can do it on mobile when I’m in a hurry, but I’d rather do it on my laptop.  For some things, bigger is better and more is more.  A lot of companies need a web and mobile presence, and I’m surprised that so many I see are ignoring the web that shouldn’t be.  

    4. ShanaC

      This explains my attitude that the device revolution is far from over.. computers may have the power to to be general, but ergonomics dictates. It is physically uncomfortable to assume we will always compute with the same device or user experience. What we need is a broader about how to translate these needs between activities.Edited: because typing a touchscreen in a coffee shop can cause readability problems, ironically enough.

      1. Mark Essel

        I mobile blogged for a few years, and was the king of typos.

        1. ShanaC

          Yeah,, this is mostly because I am on the road 🙂

    5. Guest

      I’m not sure I’m getting what you’re saying. But, I’m so addicted to fleshing out object models that I have to respond.The objective should be first. Let’s look at an example:If we say we want a “thing” that will roll down the road (activity). We limit our thinking and our options. But if we say we want a “thing” to get us from point A to point B (objective). We keep flying, teleportation, etc. all as viable options.I know this is a subtle difference from your post but I think it’s very important.

    6. Dale Allyn

      Andy, I’m glad you made this comment. While reading this entire thread I was growing a bit frustrated with the mobile emphasis without context. Use case is very important, and it varies. Further, some applications don’t need access to specific in-device equipment or other applications, so a well-designed web app is a good option. Presentation of the application which is sensitive to the viewing device is important across the board, but some generalities are misleading without context. We must know what the product (service) is designed to accomplish.Having said that, Fred’s point about imagining the mobile device as the CPU in your pocket with various input devices (and output) is important to envision. [edit: typo]

    7. Ro Gupta

       Speaking of sharing mobile pictures of the shuttle flying by..

      1. ShanaC


    8. megb

      Primary school kids here in India in public schools still use slate and chalk to write. If those were replaced by tablets I could well imagine them writing foreign policy essays on it. As for me, i still need a qwerty keyboard and a ‘lean forward’ interface to write anything properly. Although, I’m finding that its getting harder to write with a pen /pencil now. btw, fred. this is my first comment on any blog ever. had to be on avc. thanks for that. 

  21. William Mougayar

    Fred, when you used that Google Docs from your Android, you accessed a Web app that sensed you were on a mobile device and served you an html5 version. So the 3rd variable (in addition to user activity and app) is the type of mobile device. When you access a desktop version on a large screen mobile device or even an iPhone or Android and they look great, what do you call that?

    1. fredwilson

      no, i used the google drive downloaded app

      1. William Mougayar

        I see. I’ll have to try it then.

  22. Matt A. Myers

    The ease and accessibility of mobile really is disrupting the methods the mind has used for tens of thousands/millions of years; It’s great for productivity and efficiency, though it has the affect of being able to keep you in your mind, and out of your body.This is why people being healthy, mentally and physically, and literally grounding themselves on a regular basis is more important than ever before.It’s my birthday today, so I may not be posting more than this today – though I wanted to share this text, related to groundedness, by a Dalai Lama that I have hanging in my healing room;”Never Give Up”Never give upNo matter what is going onNever give upDevelop the heartToo much energy in your countryIs spent developing the mindInstead of the heartDevelop the heartBe compassionateNot just with your friendsBut with everyoneBe compassionateWork for peaceIn your heartAnd in the worldWork for peaceAnd I say againNever give upNo matter what is going on around youNever give up–Enjoy your tech, just take care of your body/mind/soul too. 🙂

    1. fredwilson


    2. Carl J. Mistlebauer

      Happy Birthday!

    3. Tom Labus

      Have a great day!!

    4. awaldstein

      Happy Bday!

    5. Laurent Boncenne

      Happy Birthday! =)

    6. ShanaC

      Happy birthday and may each.passing year get better and better.Edit: Damned phone

    7. William Mougayar

      Happy birthday Matthew! I’m sure this won’t be your last comment 🙂

    8. raycote

      Looks like the Dalai Lama is partly out of his mind ;-)Happy Birthday !On that theme of not allowing yourself to be completely consumed by overly distilled cognitive land minds.Here is a must read book that kind of speaks to that problematic issue of:mind-body symbiotic-integration or cognitive power as part and parcel of its environmental embodiment Super Sizing the Mind – Andy Clark- Embodiment . Action . Cognitive ExtensionIn Supersizing the Mind , Andy Clark argues that our thinking doesn’t happen only in our heads but that “certain forms of human cognizing include inextricable tangles of feedback, feed-forward and feed-around loops: loops that promiscuously criss-cross the boundaries of brain, body and world.” Drawing upon recent work in psychology, linguistics, neuroscience, artificial intelligence, robotics, human-computer systems, and beyond, Supersizing the Mind offers both a tour of the emerging cognitive landscape and a sustained argument in favor of a conception of mind that is extended rather than “brain-bound.”The importance of this new perspective is profound. If our minds themselves can include aspects of our social and physical environments, then the kinds of social and physical environments we create can reconfigure our minds and our capacity for thought and reason.Principle of Ecological Balanceone … that given a certain task environment there has to be a match between the complexities of the agent’s sensory, motor, and neural systemssecond… that there is a certain balance or task-distribution between morphology, materials, control,and environment.The “matching” of sensors, morphology, motor system, materials, controller, and ecological niche yields a spread of responsibility for efficient adaptive response in which “not all the processing is performed by the brain, but certain aspects of it are taken over by the morphology, materials, and environment [yielding] a ‘balance’ or task-distribution between the different aspects of an embodied agent”In such cases, the details of embodiment may take over some of the work that would otherwise need to be done by the brain or the neural network controller, an effect that can aptly be described as “morphological computation.”Principle of Inhabited/embodied/embedded InteractionThe exploitation of passive-dynamic effects or “nontrivial causal spread”this characteristic occurs whenever something we might have expected to be achieved by a certain well-demarcated system turns out to involve the exploitation of more far-flung factors and forcesPrinciple of Ecological Assembly (PEA)the canny cognizer tends to recruit, on the spot, whatever mix of problem solving resources will yield an acceptable result with a minimum of effort Free online/download access to this book! think this really speaks volumes about the organizational strange attractor(best fit probability gravity well) that is inextricably shaping the distributed morphology of services that will ultimately constitute an organically sustainable network based social structure(noosphere).

  23. William Mougayar

    The simplicity and elegance of mobile app is such it’s making some desktop app look so bloated that it’s killing them.  At one extreme is the whole Office products- most users barely tap 10% of their capabilities. We also need a simplification of desktop apps and a return to essential functionality. 

  24. Richard

    MOBILE ONLY : in less than 5 years half the world is going to be mobile only. These are the consumers of web, the producers of the web will always be tethered to the web but this will account for maybe 10-15% of users and will be mostly the professional class who need 8+ hrs of continuous use.

  25. mgk

    We make content creation software, desk<>mobile<>web. One of our mobile apps is used for writing screenplays. The mobile app was meant to augment the desktop application, the assumption being that the bulk of the writing would be done on the desk, with tweak edits being made on mobile, and/or the web, and then sent back to the desk, where again, the heavy lifting would take place.We thought, who, in their right mind, would write a full screenplay on an iPhone?Boy, were we ever wrong.

  26. JLM

    There is a lot to think about and digest in this blog post.In looking at mobile v web, in fact, one of the most interesting phenomenon is the issue of convergence.  Convergence being one of my most favorite themes of life.Mobile is drafting toward more computing capabilities in a very tiny footprint and with great, well, mobility.  Instant gratification.While web is becoming more mobile without giving up its enormous access to the digital world and computing capabilities.  I agree with the proposition that you are mingling your metaphors when you sit in a coffee shop w/ a laptop doing the same thing that the chap next to you is doing on his smartphone.Tablets look to be the common ground where the incoming tide meets the flow of the river.  It negotiates its own peace pact with each flow and melds them together.Tablets are computers, phones, GPS, cameras, televisions and access to the Internet with meaningful amounts of organic storage.  They are also able to get bigger and smaller — footprint is not constrained.One of the big elements of differentiation is simply footprint and screen size — you don’t carry that laptop in your pocket because, well, it just won’t fit.  The tablet — well, maybe.There is also the issue of learning and processing style.  I could never process a technical legal document on a smartphone but I sure could read or your emails.  This is very much personal preference and how you personally muster your intellectual focus to do work.  I have an office at home and it is the most productive place in my world because I can focus like a lazer.I can operate perfectly well with a tablet at my swimming pool, in the mountains, at the lake or in a coffee shop.I suspect we will arrive at a negotiated settlement amongst these different lenses through which we see digital everything and that what works for one will not work for the other and vice versa.  Much like restaurants and competing cuisine.What is exciting is to see how many choices we have and will continue to have. I predict bigger and more capable smartphones, smaller and more capable tablets and that laptops will continue about where they are now.Is this a great time to be alive or what?

    1. fredwilson

      the paris peace conference!

    2. Richard

      Opt out web – where decisions are made for you and are so accurate that your action is to opt out not in. Example: your on your way home from a weekend in the hamptons, traffic is 2x as bad as expected, you arrive home and 5 minutes later your dinner is delivered to your door it knows  that you are in the mood for a fresh salad, because you gained 2 lbs over the weekend,  laptop is powered up, your document is opened…… Bayesian Probability powers all of this. 

      1. JLM

        Actually that is almost scary but clearly doable.  There is an opportunity for concierge service out there which takes everything that you describe and makes it work.Just like banking has turned to private banking and wealth management as their “one up” profitable platform, the digital world can look to a white glove concierge level of service.If you drive a modern fancy car — Lexus, BMW, MB — you have no idea really how the engine and drive train work, but you want that performance, that luxurious ride, that ease of operation.  And you are willing to pay for it.A service will emerge wherein someone delivers the same level of service to wealthy computer users.

    3. ShanaC

      Tablets have ergonomic constraints. I’d bet my eyeglasses on that.

      1. LE

        Fingers as well.

        1. ShanaC

          I could always get new eyeglasses, not new fingers.

    4. jason wright

      My pocket’s not big enough for a tablet.

      1. JLM


    5. RichardF

      Pointless me writing a comment because you have encapsulated everything I was going to say.The interface that you or I prefer is unimportant, the fact that we increasingly have the ability to have access to all the digital information and assets that we want is the key.It is indeed an awesome time to be alive

    6. David Semeria

      Excellent, as always, Mr Jeff.Mobile is game changer for all the reasons you mention, but there are two points on which “web people” are failing to reach consensus.* Links: the web works because of links. I copy a paragraph from your blog and then provide attribution in the form of a link. I drive traffic to your site, and we’re both happy – it’s the currency of the web. Mobile apps don’t have the same relationship with links. The best I can do is provide a link to your app in an app store, but it’s not the same thing. I don’t want to download an app just to see a quote in its original context.* Keyboard: smartphones did a pact with the devil: in return for a screen the size of the phone (great for photos and videogames! ) something had to give. So, au revoir le physical keyboard. All in all it was the right decision, but this doesn’t change the fact that people hate them. Take any location on 4Sq and compare the check-ins (button clicks) to tips (type text on a keyboard). My back of a napkin analysis results in a ratio of 0.5% tips to checkins.An optimist would say that half the battle is in correctly specifying the problem. So, I proffer (optimistically) that we’re half-way to the solution…

      1. JLM

        Yes, like calculus the rabbit jumps halfway, halfway again and halfway again — then leans over and eats the lettuce.  The iterative slice writ large.  

    7. JamesHRH

      I think Fred & for sure @bradfeld:disqus are seeing around the corner into the wearable computer world and trying to see what it enables.Writing War & Peace is not it, for me.

    8. Mark Essel

      Yes on all counts, I have an ideal home office and allow devices to fulfill roles. The tablet is my dedicated library and mobile video display. The laptop is my mobile development system. The phone is my portable camera and computer/reader. The desktop is my main development and thought surface. The living room computers are an entertainment hub.

      1. JLM

        I cannot divorce myself from the desktop — have three monitors — and embrace the laptop solely.If I find myself worthy of a reward, I intend to buy three 30″ monitors, maybe two.I have not been that good recently.

    9. Carl Rahn Griffith

      Let us not forget that what we are talking about here is the devices getting smarter/smaller/quicker/cheaper – the content is what really matters and is what is potentially transformational – content is (inevitably) not keeping up with the rapid pace of device enablement and ubiquity because the content source is still pretty primitive.Us.

      1. JLM

        It really is amazing to see the miniaturization of everything.  I fear we are getting to the ergonomic limits of fat fingers and eye sight.The GPS capabilities are the equivalent of a $10K GPS in an airplane.I can literally navigate cross country — GPS, weather, airport info, timely NOTAMs, charts and approach plates — with an iPad.Of course, none of this is really authorized by the FAA except for the electronic charts and approach plates.  The FAA however has the wisdom not to ban it but to tolerate it.  Situational awareness is the key to safety whether it is authorized or not.If I were flying with someone who could operate the iPad, the radios and knew a bit about aviation, I would literally only have to take off, turn on the autopilot (Harry) and land.I would have only to have to be able to follow instructions.

  27. Timothy Meade

     And a Siri API

  28. John Revay

    I will check out Flurry,I was wondering of any mobile developers can comment about what usage metrics you get on mobile devices – re: down at a granular basis.When you think web – companies can analyze a users every move, page views, time on site, how deep they go etc……I am just wondering what level of data there is for users behaviors on a mobile app.Again – I may need to check out Flurry 

    1. Joe Lazarus

      John, Flurry tracks high level metrics like unique visitors, sessions, time in app, device type, country / city, etc. It also allows the developer to define custom ‘events’ for recording pretty much any action in the app like completing a tutorial, making a purchase, or viewing a certain piece of content. The one big thing missing from most mobile app analytics systems relative to the web is referral metrics. It’s difficult to determine where your customers came from before downloading or opening the app. Accurate tracking of unique users is also in jeopardy since mobile uses device ID’s to track people (not web browser cookies) and tracking those device ID’s are coming under regulatory scrutiny for privacy reasons.

    2. fredwilson

      check out Flurry

  29. Guest

    I don’t like how mobile and web are used as labels in the post. But, I sure am glad to see you distinguish the two. I like “internet” and am glad to see more of a move from browsers to “internet access method (IAM)”.I’ve never been able to understand why people feel the “need” to have a browser. You can display internet content on your local machine without a browser.

  30. JLM

    Great stuff.  Well played.

  31. Simnett

    100% agree on mobile first, but don’t forget the web. I’d be a little deconstructionist (literally) though in thinking through some of the scenarios. I think we’ll see, as the heads-up display glasses comment points to, a world where CPU, connectivity, storage, display and input mechanism are continually mix and mashed together in different combos.Use a phone when it’s what you have, use the glasses when they make sense, use flexible, connected (to your “phone”) displays like paper for collaborating, connect to the screen and virtual keyboard in a coffee shop, and voice input when you are not on 5th avenue at 5pm. The other side of this is how mobile is with you, in the world, enabling more and better context. App developers and content owners should be able to better customize your experience based on where you are, what you are looking at, what you are doing- the sensors in mobile are a huge change in the ability to do that.

  32. Eric Leebow

    Generally agree, yet this definitely depends on the application. Some things are much harder to do mobile if the framework or the user understanding isn’t there for the Web first.  If the user of the application doesn’t understand the Web application, they’re likely not going to understand the mobile, unless they’re completely different apps. I believe it might be easier to get someone to take action on mobile first.  The other thing to think about is not everyone has a smart phone, so the application on the mobile may not be of interest to the person who doesn’t care for the smart phone.  For instance, my grandma didn’t get a tablet until this month, she’s just starting to learn it. It might be better for her to start on the Web first.

  33. sigmaalgebra

    For the post at PandoDaily, I claim that its headline> Web 2.0 Is Over, All Hail the Age of Mobileis a wild exaggeration and its main evidence> People now spend more time in mobile apps than they do online.says little about Web 2.0 or Web apps.For the post to be true, most of the work of the world until smartphones done on laptops and desktops will be done on mobile devices; for anything like current mobile devices, in the vernacular, “I don’t think so”.We need to notice: Two of the biggest cases of user lock in in all of business are the Windows operating system and the Intel x86 instruction set. These two cases are important because people have a LOT of just crucial software that they want to run on Windows and on x86. The post needs for these two cases of lock in to be trivial, and in the vernacular, “I don’t think so”.For the main evidence of “spend more time”, even most heavy users of smartphones spend more time sleeping than “in mobile apps” from which, following the logic of the post, we should conclude that sleeping will kill off mobile and that the bed pillow business will soon be worth more than Apple? Of course not. Net, the “spend more time” is poor evidence about the future of Web 2.0 or Web apps.Moreover, from the post, each company with a Web app would now have to develop a corresponding mobile client app for each different mobile device? In the vernacular, “I don’t think so”. Instead, as usual, the client device will be quite standard, say, HTML or HTML 5 or some such, but standard.Why standard? Two reasons:(1) So that to the user all the Web apps look and act much the same.(2) So that the Web app developers can develop essentially just one client user interface (UI) instead of several.Put another way, there are something over 100 million Web sites in the world and something over 1 trillion Web pages. For the post to be true, that body of work and content would have to become trivial quickly, and, in the vernacular, “I don’t think so”. In particular, for the post to be true, HTML would have to go away, and, again, “I don’t think so”.The post is short on some crucial data: Yes, there are many smartphones; some smartphone users spend a lot of time using their smartphone, e.g., teenage girls texting, tweeting, or gossiping; there are many smartphone apps for many simple purposes; but none of this means much about Web 2.0 or Web apps.Yes, the post fits with what we can expect: Many teenage girls around the world, as soon as they can get their hands on a smartphone, will use it, and instead of a laptop or desktop, for texting, tweeting, or gossiping. Okay.That a user has a mobile device with them does not alone mean that they will use it to access the Internet. Instead, they will access the Internet if they can get some utility (entertainment, information, whatever) they want or at least hope they will like. Net, mobile or not, a user goes to the Internet for some utility.The utility of the Internet is important, e.g., is literally revolutionizing media, education, work, business, and the world. Via smartphones, laptops, or desktops, people will still go to the Internet.For getting utility from the Internet, that a client device is mobile is an advantage but for now also comes with some serious disadvantages. Here are five:(1) The keyboard is a pain.(2) The screen is too small.(3) The mobile device is likely not the user’s main collection of data and, instead, needs at least communication, maybe also synchronization, with that main collection, desktop, laptop, company server, or Internet cloud server.(4) The mobile device has some serious, new security problems.(5) Most real work now done on laptops or larger formats, e.g., spreadsheet, software development, is from much more difficult up to impossible on a mobile device. The main work of the world will have to continue, and anything like current mobile devices just will not be the main client devices for that work.Broadly current users from laptop to desktop agree: They want larger screens, at a minimum much, much larger than on mobile devices.The post follows the journalism tactic of the formula fiction tactic of the drama tactic of describing a conflict but is short on rational, meaningful information and, thus, is a good, specific example of why I don’t like PandoDaily.

    1. LE

      Excellent. I think what needs to be looked at to be fair is, of your points 1-5, which of those points could conceivably be cured by a technology not yet known. Possibly.Keyboard – Proponents would argue you can get info into the device by other means. Speech or eyeballs or what ever. So possible. (Where possible doesn’t take into account probabable).Screen – Proponents would say there could be a way to handle this visually through some other device or way to get the info into your brain. So possible.Collection of data – Hmm. Not sure that matters actually.Security – Seems easy to fix to me. Strongly possible.Real work – Potentially could redefine what is meant by “real work” to a level where what you can do on mobile is acceptable.  Possible.Unfortunately, in support of your argument, statistically having all these things happen seem like a stretch. So I agree with you. At least for the next 10 to 20 years.

      1. Dale Allyn

        One of my concerns about this “movement” or “evolution” is the acceptance of mediocrity in the process. This is a personal point of view, not a business view. For example: 1) While the iPhone and other such devices have received continuous upgrades to the built-in camera, they still produce crappy photos in comparison to dedicated devices. Yet, they are ever more widely accepted as “good quality”. They are better than previous “camera phones”, but I lament any trends towards accepting lower quality anything – at least if it is being used as a baseline or standard. 2) It is often said that YouTube is one of the most heavily used sources for listening to music, and in my opinion there’s not a single file there that is “listenable” for anything other than an attempt at discovery. Sound quality is horrible, as is most of the video quality, but it is widely accepted. The same could be said for many other listening sources or devices.3) Others have articulated some differences between certain types of work vis-a-vis the device used, and you mention how definitions of real work may vary. I agree with you. But I also see a certain acceptance of mediocrity in document making or cloud-based suites because it’s “mobile” or it’s on-line (i.e. cloud-based). “Never mind the quality of my output ‘cuz I’m on my iPhone… ”  I just hate to see less appreciation for precision, I guess. Mobile access is very important, and many tasks can be efficiently accomplished via mobile devices, but very often the experience is one of compromise and acceptance of mediocrity in exchange for convenience. This is not always a trade I’m willing to make as a participant, but of course I must recognize it as one who wishes to produce useful and successful products or services for the marketplace.[edit: correct lack of precision 😉 ]

        1. LE

           Having been in the printing business when the laser printer was introduced was where I first noticed the phenomena of how peoples standards get lowered when things get easier or they can save money or the crowd changes (Remember when going out to a restaurant you got dressed up? Now you can wear dungarees and spend $200..).I bought an expensive laser typesetter around the same time the Mac came out. A laserwriter cost $4000 at the time. It was 300dpi. Forgetting even for a second that the quality got better and the price was lowered customers were totally accepting of that resolution. Not a problem.

          1. Dale Allyn

            I understand, Fred, and I agree. We are seeing improvements in such devices, and each of us have differing requirements, expectations and benchmarks. And of course, purpose must be factored in as well, i.e. particular use-case. I just don’t want to lose sight of highest quality (in anything) in exchange for mobility or similar convenience. That does not mean that I don’t feel we should accept compromises at times, but just not give up knowledge of “the ideal”. Thank you for looking up the older post and bringing it to my attention. 

          2. fredwilson

            it is weird to go back and read stuff i wrote 8 years ago

      2. sigmaalgebra

        My list of five started with the qualification “but for now”, and you ended with “At least for the next 10 to 20 years.”.  Looks like we are in agreement.Since my post was already too long, I didn’t elaborate. 

        1. Mark Essel

          Once I can develop both novel applications and thorough analysis on a mobile device I will concede to their ascension. I can imagine interfaces which would enable these activities, yet am uncertain of their practicality and timely formation.

    2. LE

      “why I don’t like PandoDaily”What’s scary though is that next thing you know a kernel of an idea like this comes out of Brian Williams mouth, ends up in the NYT, WSJ, local papers and becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. Same as what is happening with “we don’t need universities” which is making the rounds. 

      1. sigmaalgebra

        Yes, the Internet is now the world’s most effective “marketplace of ideas”.PandoDaily isn’t hurting me except when I give it a try as today and conclude it wasted my time.  I hope they improve.If they don’t change, are successful, and don’t hurt me, then good for them.Yes, the “we don’t need universities” nonsense stands to be hurting a lot of people.Students:  The universities are not perfect.  Some of your time and money at a university can be wasted.  You should pick and chose carefully.  But the best from a university can be one of the most powerful, and maybe a just crucial, input for your life and, in practical terms, available nowhere else.  To convince yourself, fill in the details.  Reject this claim at your peril. 

        1. ShanaC

          It is like money: if you digitze an idea, it increases the speed of velocity at which it travels.  Moving cash is a hell of a lot harder than moving bits. Same as newspapers when it comes to ideas traveling.

    3. JLM

      I agree more with you than you do with yourself.  Well played!

  34. jason wright

    The architecture of the built environment will change to better accommodate the needs of people in their mobile world.The form factor may morph in the short term but then return to something we’re already quite familiar with now.We may in the future be able to ‘dock’ our pocket devices with almost any (now smart) object in our physical environment, objects that are presently ‘dumb’ lumps of metal and glass and plastic in use for other more mundane purposes.

  35. Pkeane

    Advertisers are not following useage and audience unfortunately. This will likely change. I am on the board of Bleacher Report and I continue to be impressed with the growth of our mobile products and domain direct traffic from mobile devices. Aggregate traffic from mobile now north of 30% (and this excludes tablets).

    1. fredwilson

      that’s what we are seeing across the board in our portfolio. sometimes as high as 50%’s about 25-30% for AVC, depending on how you measure it

  36. Matthew Lenhard

    Kids can often be a surprising way to see where trends are heading. I remember Peter Lynch talking about how he would see which stores his kids were shopping at or which ones were popular when looking for investments  and it seems your kids also were a good indication of the move from web to mobile.

  37. Abdallah Al-Hakim

    the transition is already happening to everyone and with tablets proliferating it is bound to increase rapidly. With the fanfare surrounding the instagram deal I expect more companies to focus on developing mobile products before the going to the web (if they even ever do so!!)

  38. Pete Griffiths

    I don’t buy the generalization.  Are there a growing number of viable mobile use cases – absolutely.  More importantly, are there geographies where mobile will dominate – certainly.   But will such mobile usage ‘replace’ desktop – no.

  39. William Mougayar

    I wonder how Facebook would handle a native Mobile experience. On one hand it should increase its usage, but on the other it will eat up the desktop usage which where all the revenue is optimized for.

    1. fredwilson

      break up the web app into point solutions and have a mobile app for each

      1. William Mougayar

        Little facebooks. True. The desktop can house all that now, but the mobile needs lighter weight experiences.

        1. Carl Rahn Griffith

          The Fb messenger app is not a promising start.Facebook is as mobile as a fridge.

          1. fredwilson


          2. Carl Rahn Griffith


          3. William Mougayar

            LOL. These would need to be totally designed for Mobile without the baggage of the web app. Otherwise they are extensions and band-aids. Even HTML5 apps don’t get the same play as native mobile.

  40. Madhav Tripathi

    Ok. I Agreed. Mobile is first and web is second, so what will happen with web users, who make a living using web interface. I can see mobile layouts are just rendered. There have no native technology been developed for mobile interface.

  41. leapy

    please, can we have instantaneous language translation yet?  then I may not need to write anything at all!

  42. << Work at home, $35/h, link

     Man is condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does.

  43. Damien Hoffman

    Of our 2.5M monthly uniques at Wall St. Cheat Sheet, 31% are now viewing via mobile. It’s been an incredible rise over the past 12 months.

  44. fredwilson

    i didn’t start that comment stream and i don’t feel any need to “make good”i think they can do better and the pando post i linked to is an example of how they can do that

  45. Carl J. Mistlebauer

    Yep, and the further away from the innovation centers you get the further behind the universities get….

  46. Tom Labus

    Yes for editing but for original work that is crucial I would have an issue.

  47. ShanaC

    Even detailed editing can be painful on a phone, depending on the edits.

  48. David Semeria

    Very true Fred, that was good link.This Hamish McKenzie writes with an objectivity and attention to detail that rarely occurs on either TC or PD itself.It read like the best industry analyst reports: engaging and thorough without being dull.

  49. Tom Labus

    What are we paying these guys for. If this is the case, this industry is ready for disruption!