Mobile Is Where The Growth Is

If you look at any of the top web properties on comScore, Quantcast, Alexa or any other third party reporting service you will see that they all have been fairly flat over the first half of the year. You might think that all these big web services are flatlining.

We have seen this in our portfolio too. From board meeting to board meeting, we are seeing a similar pattern. Web is flattish. But mobile is growing like a weed.

I alluded to this in a post last week where I wished for an aggregated audience measurement service across mobile and web.

There is a significant shift going on this year, much more significant than we saw last year, from web to mobile. It is most noticeable in games, social networking, music, and news, but it is happening across the board and it presents both great opportunity and great challenges.

Mobile native services like Foursquare & Instagram have the most to gain from this transition. Big feature rich web apps like Facebook and Google have the most to lose from this transition.

Mobile does not reward feature richness. It rewards small, application specific, feature light services. I have said this before but I will say it again. The phone is the equivalent of the web application and the mobile apps you have on your home screen(s) are the features.

That is why Facebook should (and it looks like will) break its big monolithic web app into a bunch of small mobile apps. Messenger, Instagram (not yet owned by Facebook), and Camera are the model for Facebook on mobile.

User experience is not the only big change/challenge for companies trying to navigate this transition. Monetization is different too.

Approaches like display advertising don't work as well on mobile as they do on the web. And they don't work that well on the web. ARPUs (avg revenue per user) on mobile are lower for display based revenue models on mobile across the board.

On the other hand, commerce works great on mobile if you have a well integrated (one click) purchase experience. The freemium model (whether it is virtual goods in games, in app upgrades, or something else) works very well on mobile.

If you are going to operate a media model on mobile, look at Twitter's model for inspiration. The ads are the default content object (the tweet) and are delivered right in the primary user experience (the feed/timeline). It's not surprising that more than half of Twitter's ad revenue is coming from mobile.

All of this is good news for entrepreneurs since they are in the best position to take advantage of all of these changing dynamics. It is not as good news for those who find themselves operating a big Internet business started more than five years ago. You are going to need to make a hard right turn super fast without flipping over the car.

In the past fifteen years, we have seen Microsoft go from being an unstoppable force to being a non-factor in many important new markets, we have seen Google go from being an unstoppable force to being a non-factor in many important new markets, and I suspect we are going to see Facebook struggle with the same thing. RIM is dying quickly now. Yahoo! is a question mark.

In technology the more things change, the more the stay the same. You cannot ever rest. Because the big change that is going to upset your nice apple cart is right around the corner. Today that is mobile. Tomorrow, who knows? I am trying like hell to figure out what that will be and jump on it. Because that's how you play this game.

#mobile#VC & Technology#Web/Tech

Comments (Archived):

  1. OurielOhayon

    Fred don t you think Twitter example is an exception? They have the scale that enable them to introduce new forms of ad units. Other apps (most of them) don t have that scale and can’t afford to experiment things that may or not work? the mobile ad space is indeed a problem because traditional ad units are either overly intrusive or disruptive in the user experience and therefore perform lowPs: btw would be great if twitter could accept non US customers. seems to be limited to US only corp..

    1. fredwilson

      well twitter waited until it had scale to introduce any form of monetization. same with tumblr. instagram was taking that approach until they sold. pinterest is headed that way too.

      1. OurielOhayon

        correct. those are the exceptions but not the rules for tens of thousands of developers who create mobile apps and don t have that scale…

        1. fredwilson

          i think the small developer should focus on a freemium model. free with in app upgrade. media models require scale. and probably need VC to get them there.

          1. OurielOhayon

            or someone should come up with a better way to create mobile ad units, the same way Google managed to find it on the way (and Facebook is still searching its own)

          2. fredwilson

            ah yes.but i think the best models are native to each service (the ads are the default content object).that makes it hard to do it via a third party service..

          3. OurielOhayon

            well adsense exported itself pretty nice on 3rd party sites

          4. fredwilson

            in a world where there was a fair bit of screen real estate

          5. OurielOhayon

            Correct. This is also the case on mobile where inventory is massive but ad efficiency is scarce. And the main reason is because the most important driver to the ad market right now is Download generation and not Awareness or Page views. Because the paradigm of mobile is mostly based, as you rightly said, on native apps first then the ad market has to serve that purpose.

          6. DMattia

            isn’t this issue the place to be looking for the next big thing? How far are we from expandable plastic displays?

          7. DMattia

            isn’t this issue the place to be looking for the next big thing? How far are we from folding plastic displays?

      2. Dale Allyn

        In my opinion, we should be careful how broadly we paint with this brush (free model, delayed monetization). For services which are non-essential or not really solving a significant problem it makes sense. If they’re ‘fun, but not essential” and need to be discovered broadly to work, it’s a fit. But if the application or platform solves a problem for a significantly large group or has other draws of value, monetizing earlier is appropriate for some โ€“ but value is key. I feel that overlooking this tends to push developers to always think free and VC (multiple rounds), yet if there’s a real value proposition there may be options.Side note as a tiny data point: My daughter installed three new apps on her iPhone last week, all were paid, but had free options with ads. She didn’t even blink at paying in lieu of ads of any kind. They cost $6.99, $3.x and $2.x and she’ll likely settle on one or two. She hates mobile apps with ads and avoids them if there’s no ad-free option. She’ll pay to avoid data mining too, but it’s less important to her. This has not been due to my influence as she established her own pattern before we discussed it.

        1. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          1. Dale Allyn

            Yep. And a quality app can and should bring more.

          2. Shyam Subramanyan

            A free app with ads might make a lot more money than one dollar (70 cents after Apple) over the lifetime of the usage of the app.

          3. Dale Allyn

            Unless the ad model keeps people from downloading it. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Offering both is an option, but most people I know prefer to pay and avoid ads. My daughter even pays to demo most apps, since the ads will detract from the experience while testing. An exception is an app that she’s not feeling much likelihood of keeping beyond the first test. For me, zero chance of using an app with ads.

          4. FAKE GRIMLOCK




  2. Emmanuel Makris

    Mobile is at the tip of its iceberg.One of the accelerating forces in the late 90’s early 2000’s acceleration boom was putting tech money in the hands of the non developer entrepreneurial community. The every day Joe could make good money hustling whatever on Ebay, amazon, craigslist. But these tools for the non techie internet enterpreuner haven’t changed very much in the past 10 years. Its interesting that the internet is disrupted almost yearly in social netowrking myspace-facebook,-twitter- pinterest-instagram. But “market platforms” where actual money is exchanged between members, once large enough can completely dominate an industry. Probably because its more expensive, time consuming for it members to change. Having to verify bank info/etc on ebay and a lack of market demand is a deterrent from any one leaving. Bet big on things that make money makers out of us, and “advertising” isnt necessary. Twitters advertising model works because the reason you go there= tweet=short informative statement, is the ad unit you recieve. kind of like googles ad words, the highest conversion is right at the point of sale

    1. Mark Essel

      What do you think of Square? How about the potentially much more disruptive bitcoin monetary system?

      1. Emmanuel Makris

        I think the value of mobile comes from its ability to save and make its users money. Bored last week I was walking around Goodwill looking for something rare I could flip. I was the only in the store who was using a smart phone regularly as I was shopping. Everyone else was treating it as a normal shopping experience (walking through store buying things like a typical based off its price and their desire to own it). Me, Im walking around like a shark. Phone in hand ebay App open, knowing exactly how much I can resell everything I am looking for. Granted its hard with ebays app to easily find everything Im looking for (even mobile search is in its infancy). 2 hours later I walk out, paid $13 for 5 items that our selling collectively for over $250 bucks. $115 an hour (including gas) thats the power of mobile, sure as fuck beats flipping burgers

      2. Emmanuel Makris

        Square’s an excellent company because it allows phycial businesses a credit based system, without the pain in the ass and fees of setting up your own credit card machine. Less huss and fuss to get established it makes life simple=value of mobile. Bitcoin im a little less sure on, because its trying to introduce a new behavior (new currency), while square is reinvigorating an old reliabile platform (credit card transaction). The hardest thing about a new disrupting industry gaining transaction is convincing other people they need to use it, more useful and practical then the alternative the MASSES, and Bitcoin isnt even close to there. Unless the fed starts giving its checks on the 1st of the month on bitcoin, I don’t see it being main stream any time soon. Its growth rate to where its becomes a cash displacement is still years out.

      3. Ben Apple

        I’d love to have more discussion on bitcoin, thought it kinda died out but seems to have been surging lately

    2. Richard

      Would be helpful to see how much transactional volume is mobile? Or does the mobile data controlled for transactions differ?

      1. Emmanuel Makris

        There are several ways mobile affects transactions. One of the most important, and overlooked in my opinion, are the the transactions you don’t make, because you realized their is a cheaper or better alternative when doing research on your mobile phone. The transaction types differ between each industry, and as mobile becomes pervasive I imagine more actual transactions will occur.. But for now its most powerful use is as an informational gathering tool while out and about

        1. Richard

          Good points. Do you use it this way?

          1. Emmanuel Makris

            Bored last week I was walking around Goodwill looking for something rare I could flip. I was the only in the store who was using a smart phone regularly as I was shopping. Everyone else was treating it as a normal shopping experience (walking through store buying things like a typical based off its price and their desire to own it). Me, Im walking around like a shark. Phone in hand ebay App open, knowing exactly how much I can resell everything I am looking for. Granted its hard with ebays app to easily find everything Im looking for (even mobile search is in its infancy). 2 hours later I walk out, paid $13 for 5 items that our selling collectively for over $250 bucks. $115 an hour (including gas) thats the power of mobile, sure as fuck beats flipping burgers



      1. Emmanuel Makris

        I agree. Shopify 1% fees, EBay 10% +3% through paypal. An industry ripe for innovation.

        1. ShanaC

          Shopify doesn’t allow moving random crap – I think taskrabbit for certain service jobs is even more disruptive.

        2. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          1. Emmanuel Makris

            Just an example. THere’s know reason ebay should receive 1/8 of price based on principle. If someone can do it for 1%, and theres still 13% more people are charging where a competitor can undercut it. Working on this exact problem at moment. Creating a large enough market where sellers can sell anything, get their full value and not have to give up right arm. Any advice?

          2. FAKE GRIMLOCK


    4. JamesHRH

      Paid version likely ads value and undermines the experience only a little.

  3. Eric Leebow

    When you say mobile, it could be mobile app or mobile Web. Which is more likely to be used in an example such as Twitter, the site or the app? Or, do you consider them both the same mobile? Is there a way to figure this out?

    1. fredwilson

      The app for now. Who knows how long that paradigm will dominate

      1. Eric Leebow

        Yes, I’ve seen one site that has done a really good job at avoiding the mobile app and making a mobile version completely in HTML5. I think the mobile app is good for distribution. The one question everyone wonders is if you were to start an app in iOS exclusively, then do you get better distribution. It worked for Instagram, yet I’m not sure iOS still provide precedence to apps that are exclusive to it anymore. One of the things Foursquare did was start with as many mobile apps as possible to cover the gamut of mobile users, yet what if they started with only one app. It’s interesting to think about. Does it matter?Why is RIM dying? Anything app developers could do to save it?

        1. FAKE GRIMLOCK


      2. Gregory Magarshak

        I think that mobile invitations are usually through SMS for users who don’t have the app. This SMS contains a link to a mobile website, so at the very least, a mobile app must have a mobile website for those platforms on which the mobile app wasn’t released yet.This is a very fine art … it can get pretty complex because you want the user to eventually download the mobile app. Until then you must keep sending them SMSes…

      3. ash bhoopathy

        Why the app? Distribution channel or better direct monetization?

        1. fredwilson

          Better user experience

          1. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          2. ash bhoopathy

            I believe and understand mobile first but our team has trouble swallowing native first. Mobile web is getting better a lot faster and looking at what w3c has in store for touch in addition to browser race starting on mobile with chrome, means companies with ubiquitous strategies will come out ahead in the next 6 months or so. Just my 2 cents!

      4. William Mougayar

        There could be a hub and spoke model where a bunch of discrete/vertical mobile app connect/aggregate with a web app.

      5. Timothy Meade

        Mozilla is working on bringing native APIs into the mobile browser, tech demo stage for now but still impressive. I think the whole thing is about to flip, some apps you use all the time, useful stuff in the browser. Could be that I’ve only used Android and we miss out on the best apps for years.I could also argue that the process model on Android is broken, a lightweight HTML5 app would still need to bring along with it the browser, could crash the browser, could interfere with my tab browsing history, etc.

    2. Albert Hartman

      Connected over internet is surely the future. Centrality of browser as the intermediary, not so much.

  4. Rohan

    Moving goal post…C’est la vie.. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  5. Biff

    @fredwilson:disqus I think in the next 5 years, pervasive computing will be a massive area of growth. Pervasive Computing is the idea that everything will have a computer in it. As microcontrollers become more powerful and more energy efficient, a machine-to-machine internet-like platform will emerge — letting your refrigerator tell your phone that your milk is going to spoil tomorrow, so that you know to get more milk and throw out the bad one.I don’t expect this platform to come from a company that’s making a platform for the sake of a platform — I think it’ll come from a company that made one awesome physical product that later progressed into a platform. (In other words, it’s a chicken-and-egg problem).

    1. fredwilson

      That’s a great insight. I will be watching

      1. Mark Essel

        You’ve likely read much about it, the Internet of things. Deeper integration of personal devices (the phone form factor may change) with the world around us (Google Glass is Goofy but they have the right idea).

        1. fredwilson

          I thing google glasses is awesome

          1. Albert Hartman

            Becoming BORG is fine. But success depends on quality of Hive datafeed.

        2. Matt A. Myers

          I agree with @fredwilson:disqus that Google Glasses are awesome, not goofy at all. They may look clunky at the moment, though they’re still youngish. They provide the same function that the very successful GoPro offers, except for the general consumer, and in a less bulky form.I do have issue related to the device transmitting so near the head constantly + with a battery constantly next to your head (all recent valid research is pointing towards that being bad for you); This is a sector ripe for disruption that no one has tackled.

          1. Timothy Meade

            They do have a great deal of potential, the form factor though is still really limiting. It’s so unfortunate to me that they can’t get these in designer frames, sold in Pearl Vision or some place like that, accepted by the fashion community. It’s unfortunate because they remain niche and unproven, not yet mass market.The more important thing to me is voice AI, Apple is closer than anybody, but as pointed out this morning, Google could leap frog them if they tried. Everybody was so focused on an on-device Siri API, but I think that’s the wrong end, what we need is an open publishing platform, with incentives (think of how search referral payments to Mozilla work) that allows the algorithm to select the best source of a deal, offload the complicated process of finding the best flight for instance to a third-party, and sharing in the upside.We are not there, though. I think there’s room for a new entrant that can do this, if Apple and Google refuse, with an app that runs on Android (all versions, yes it’s possible) and iOS. I want to see every company publish an interactive AI the same as they do a website today. Think about the value in connecting a willing consumer to a willing provider, direct to an endpoint. “What is the status of my car insurance” “Payment is due in three days, make it now?”I’m disgusted with mobile, I’ve entered my password about a hundred times into different sites, and yet I’m holding in my hand a device that positively identifies me. The failure and the friction slows down purchasing unnecessarily..

          2. davidhclark

            Why don’t you build something to fix it? I’ve thought the same thing.

        3. Biff

          I’m unsure that Google Glasses falls under the category of pervasive computing because I think that pervasive computing will be more about software being able to interact with the real world, directly. Google Glasses falls more on the category of wearable computing. The distinction here is that with pervasive computing, everyday objects become sensors or actuators. Google Glasses is neither, in it’s current form. It may be an awesome platform for interacting with sensors/actuators though, but so is your phone and your desktop. The difference here, I think, is that it’s *more* mobile, if that makes sense. You don’t have to pull something out of your pocket because your computer is always there, waiting for you.While it’ll be easier to access everyday devices with Google Glasses, that’s just a small detail, in comparison to having everything be compatible with a central API (That machine-to-machine internet-like platform I was talking about).

          1. Mark Essel

            I don’t think we’re seeing the end form factor of google glass, it’s the first rough cut at where sensors and computers are going (they’ll converge on invisible). Agree that nearly every object having an api is the deeper integration.Here’s a link to a brief post I wrote on the topic in 2010, with a reference towards Kevin Kelly’s influence, http://www.victusspiritus.c

          2. Timothy Meade

            But if it was just something in a pair of glasses, it would be pervasive as well as waerable. (And wearable seems to be the modern equivalent of lugable, are cell phones wearable?)

      2. guesticus

        Nest is the tip of the iceberg.

      3. andyidsinga

        pervasive computing is going on on my desk…/bragging

    2. Jason

      Reminds me of the late 1990s early 2000s and the years that followed, the ideas aren’t new though the infrastructure, technology (and market) are mature enough to support their execution.

      1. ShanaC

        what changed? I mean how did the infrastructure catch up?

        1. Jason

          More and more fiber gets laid down Shana, do you remember when cable/dsl internet came out and there was flurry of dynamic sites that popped up? Not everyone had internet yet, it was interesting to watch it go mainstream early to middle of last decade… (as well as the commoditization of server ware, the cloud, maturity of tools we use)

          1. ShanaC

            Because my dad is my dad, I actually only barely remember a 56kbod modem. We were the first family in my neighborhood with broadband.

      2. laurie kalmanson

        wasn’t there something about that on aol, or was it geocities?

        1. Jason

          Not sure, though it was during their time if I remember correctly…

    3. ShanaC

      I think we’re first going to see pervasive computing get integrated into healthcare as the boomers age (sorry fred). Monitoring for falls, ect, when your family is busy and end of life healthcare is crappy seems to be a natural fit.

    4. JamesHRH

      This is extremely well stated.

    5. laurie kalmanson

      100 years ago, it was a new idea that everything would have electricity in it

  6. Gregory Magarshak

    Mobile is awesome. The question is, whether to build for mobile first or not. I think people should be encouraged to sign up using their phone number actually, instead of their email, because if you send a (legit, non spam) text invitation from their friend, it’s less likely to be ignored, and your startup can grow faster.That said, you should quickly get off texts (which cost money and also honestly annoy users when sent for every notification) and instead switch to in-app notifications on smartphones.I still can’t believe GroupMe grew as mucha s it did and was sold for 60 million. We were at the same hackathon as them two years ago, and had the same idea (twilio was offering their API) … but dismissed it because we figured that the cost of multicasting SMSes cannot be offset by advertising or anything else. We were right, and GroupMe lost a lot, but eventually transitioned to notifications.I imagine they are still losing money on non-smartphones, but Skype / Microsoft has deep pockets.

  7. sinzone

    It’s all about APIs not mobile, this is just a consequence.There are 1M of mobile apps out there, this means that there are 1M of private APIs out there. Ubiquitous computing runs over the idea that information can be moved from A to B fast and cheap. That’s APIs. Netflix into the XBox that’s an API.It’s funny, because investors are all focused on mobile, when the real architecture, the underlying architecture that’s powering the internet into every object on this planet, it’s all about an API at the end.Public APIs like AWS are generating more tha $1B in revenue/year, Expedia more than $2B via affiliate channels, and startups like Twilio…well you know the answer. ;-)And they are just getting started. All of them.Private and Public APIs are becoming the Net. Mobile is just a segment of a much bigger revolution.

    1. fredwilson

      Great point. But there is also tremendous value in being the interface between the API and a human being

      1. Lee Kestler

        Awesome piece and commentary. Thanks Fred!

      2. Diesel Laws

        Agreed with @sinzone:disqus and @df08e05aba9324afc9ab95e5a91fe999:disqus – Awesome bigger picture and smaller segment to latch onto right now.



        1. MHSzymczyk

          Do you see the irony in your statement? The middlemen are now the platforms themselves – iOS, Android, Samsung, etc.

          1. FAKE GRIMLOCK


      4. Albert Hartman

        Connected over internet is surely the future. Centrality of browser as the intermediary, not so much.

      5. sinzone

        True. If you like History you should also look back at the Industrial Revolution, because as you know, history repeats itself.In 1600, when you wanted to start a business, build something and sell it, you would have done everything by yourself, every component by yourself, from scratch. This has a limit bcz you can’t scale.Then the Industrial Revolution came in and among many new inventions, two in particular: Electricity and Assembly line. This combo allowed mass production for the first time, cutting down costs and time.I find a huge correlation between then and now, between that hardware industry and the software one. In the Software industry of today, Cloud Computing is the Electricity and APIs are the Assembly Line. This combo is allowing ubiquitous computing. Is the decomposition of software, taking the shape it needs in a particular moment – all on demand like Electricity.We would not have cars “the interface for the human being” and most of the things that are around or lives, without the invention of the Assembly Line.

        1. fredwilson

          great comment. great analogy.

        2. davidhclark

          Damn. Good stuff!

    2. Richard

      That’s my take too. But how exactly does one define the scope of an API? Is it evolving?

      1. sinzone

        For sure evolving. For example, there are 17 different biz models to monetize an API, but most of the API out there still free. I see this as search back in ’98 – people still have to find the right way to monetize their own APIs.Private APIs, thanks to mobile and the boom of multiple objects connected to the internet are exploding, they also start to have a huge role as the primary way to do partnerships beween two companies – it’s just simple and fast. Like Nike with Path, recently.But not only that, is really changing the way every startup and bigger organizations build software. We’re moving into an API driven approach. You build an API first, and then all the rest on top of it: mobiles apps, website, etc.Cloud Computing is probably what Electricity was in the Industrial Revolution and APIs are the Assembly Line.It’s a revolution in the of software industry, it will have a huge impact in the years to come.

        1. Richard

          Great take on this. Have a few references or blogs where I can learn more?

        2. Richard

          Advatages of REST v SOAP v JavaScript

    3. MHSzymczyk

      Couldn’t agree with you more…it’s frustrating to see investors blindly focus on ‘apps’ and not understand how the underlying architecture is that much more valuable for branching out to other platforms (iTV, web, etc.)

    4. ShanaC

      the danger of APIs is that you can be taken down by a storm…

      1. sinzone

        lol..well it’s more the danger of any data center in the world.

    5. Timothy Meade

      Let me search your damn app.

  8. Miljenko Hatlak

    Yes, mobile is growing like a weed, and web is flat. Services that are growing rapidly, as you said, are games, social networking, music, and news.Yet, I would really like to see traditional companies that would throw away all their laptops and desktops, and force their employees to work exclusively on mobile phones or tablets. I would like to see this employees not just typing text or filling spreadsheets, but creating complex drafting, performing intensive calculations and doing all other thinks that we use our computers for (except entertainment).So, web is not dead, or I hope it’s not. There is a lot of staff that we do on our desktops waiting to be shifted on the web. Before ten years or so I was expecting diminishing of desktop computing and shifting to the web as a new distributed computing platform.

  9. Jan Schultink

    OK, my vision for 5 years out:1) You can stuff laptop-level power in a phone. There is one mobile/desk operating system. Dependent on where you are, your phone will hook up to screens, keyboards or I/O devices wirelessly and apps will morph to accomodate these.2) There will be one player who has cracked (finally after 20 years) mobile payments and local commerce for the masses (it could be facebook) and that company will be mentioned as the newest addition to the list of Netscape, AOL, Yahoo, Google, Apple, facebook etc.A bit scary, every person will have a device with access to biometrics, payment accounts, media library, corporate access, key to your front door, medical records, etc. Maybe they just implant it in your head 15 years later….

    1. Jan Schultink

      PS to my post, this would mean that that a tablet in the future would simply be a “dumb” user interface that can “Airplay” into your all encompassing mobile device

      1. Fernando Gutierrez

        That’s the concept behind Modu. I thought that it was a great idea but you probably need a big player to back it.

        1. Jan Schultink

          Interesting, modu is an Israeli startup that got lots of funding and went through a spectacular bankruptcy. Maybe this is a re-start.

          1. ShanaC

            I wonder what happened.

          2. Jan Schultink

            The company/page does not look really alive



        1. Jan Schultink

          Almost.A dumb tablet would be just a touch screen without much memory or other processing power. A really cheap high quality wireless monitor

          1. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          2. Jan Schultink

            Don’t know. I think TVs will remain dumb screens, and tablets could as well become dumb screens, like computer monitors. Your pocket-sized everything device changes its behavior as it comes close to any of the screens, keyboards it knows.

    2. Fernando Gutierrez

      Re 1: I like that scenario, but instead of the phone being the center I think the cloud is more suited for that. The phone would be just one of the access points, maybe the most important one. I love my mobile phone, but I can lose it and it has a primitive and unreliable battery.

      1. Jan Schultink

        Yes, access

        1. Timothy Meade

          Yep, but I think it will be a combination of the two, with mobile processors (SoCs) becoming the building blocks for cloud connected devices. Apple is way ahead here, with the aTV becoming a box for connecting to iCloud. Google could own this (give it away with apps accounts) and has acknowledged the importance of chromebox.I think the easiest thing now to predict is not that the desktop form factor is over, but that desktop apps are. Google Chrome is a platform to deliver native components to all devices, run with native speeds and access GL video cards for rendering.Another thing missing, and this applies to mobile commerce as well, is state. Even if I am using multiple devices as windows into the cloud, I am still one person, I want the same history, the same articles (properly formatted for each device), the same news feeds, the same video content and queue, the disposable part should be the hardware, not my identity.

          1. Jan Schultink

            I like the concept of “disposable part”

          2. Timothy Meade

            I had this thought experiment a few years ago (when java was popular and long before android). I would build a company making perfectly generic tablets in every screensize from 5 to 11 inches, running a generic operating system and used for consuming content and controlling home electronics. There would be essentially no branding, thin aluminum with a model number stamped on the back. They wouldn’t be personal, just something to leave on a coffee table and pick up and use when you wanted to. The OS was built on java, it wouldn’t be j2me though because that was too limited. Content would just be jars downloaded and run on the device from the web. Sun had pretty much figured out the cloud and all this pervasive stuff, but failed to commercialize it.Before that, my chosen form factor was a series of stackable devices that would live on the edge of a table on panel that connected them with a monitor and keyboard, each device having a CPU or harddisk, about the size of an iPod and using a bus architecture a device could be added to the top and visible to the system that was driving the display. (Which was a network terminal.) This was when USB was first becoming popular and memory stick had just been annouced.I don’t know what practical things I would build today, I think we all see the same near future but it’s earily similar to the one I saw ten or more years ago.

  10. Mark Essel

    The industries with the greatest need and opportunities will leverage infrastructure changes born out of a digitally open platform. While the web is still struggling with high quality mobile experiences, healthcare and (alternative) power beg for broad (not large) scale disruption.Your thesis will transition to new industries or you’ll have to reinvent it.Authors like Kevin Kelly and Clay Shirky have inspired a generation. Now is the time to keenly observe the distributed trend migrate and penetrate other aspects of our lives. I mentioned healthcare and power but they are largely a result of the big three. Education, political and economic change feel like inflection points for the next decade. If I were an investor I’d select one area to specialize in, because they are all ripe candidates for disruption.Timing is everything, which of the big three will be most changed in ten years? Education has already begun to change, small shifts in energy will have a huge financial impact, and our current health care system is unsustainable so something has to give. Tough Related topic on mobile first, I’ve been having trouble editing via mobile / Disqus for the past few weeks. The box is tiny and the fonts are often out of focus.

    1. Anne Libby

      I’d add health care delivery to your list of 3, particularly in places where people are mobile only.

      1. Mark Essel

        UberHealth ๐Ÿ™‚

    2. Matt A. Myers

      I wish there was a good website who presented a good overview on all these. Perhaps a blogger, similar to calibre of Fred, someone who’s involved in those areas would present such a holistic picture. I’d love to have my hand in growing those sectors. For now though, I focus on what I currently know best.

    3. Matt A. Myers

      @annelibby:disqus adding to the list, I imagine too that politics will have a big disruption – I hope at least – whereby it’s much easier to know who has what opinion and who they potentially are supporting. I think there will need to be a shift away from ‘bubble’ systems though, whereby you are never shown news you won’t agree with or aren’t likely to engage with.

  11. Kieran McGrady

    Great post. I think one of the most interesting aspects of this is payments.Throughout the history of the web most services and content has been free to consumers and support with ad revenue. But on mobile consumers are much more willing to pay and it is almost completely frictionless.I wonder if in the next few years we will start to see more and more apps using the subscription model. If Facebook was started today as a mobile first business would they charge for the app outright, charge $1 per month, or use in-app purchase to charge for extra features?

    1. fredwilson

      Free is still the right model for services where the users create the content but we will see more transaction based business models of scale on mobile

  12. guesticus

    After mobile it will be networked appliances and furniture. We are moving to a fully digital world.

  13. LIAD

    We’re moving to ME ME ME ME.We carry a computing device with us 24/7 but the ways we connect to it and the ways it helps us in day-to-day life are quite infantile.Google Glass will help us cross the chasm.A ubiquitous, private, intelligent, connected heads-up display. So awesome it’s absurd

    1. fredwilson


    2. Shyam Subramanyan

      I still think it’s absurd, but I think people walking around with bluetooth headsets are absurd. I gently request people to take it off before I engage in a conversation with them!



      1. ShanaC

        If it is passive internet, I could see myself falling in love. I want more passive tracking.

      2. Dale Allyn

        “IT SAME REASON GOOGLE FAIL WITH EVERYTHING ELSE. SOLVE PROBLEM FOR ENGINEER, FORCE ON USER, INSTEAD OF SOLVE FOR USER, MAKE ENGINEER DEAL WITH IT.”This is exactly how I feel about the majority of Google products and services. Talk to non-techies about g-mail UI, etc. A great design is intuitive for a new (and non-engineer) user while at the same time not making the technically-adept feel like they’re using a child’s app. Great UI/UX works for both sets of users.

        1. FAKE GRIMLOCK


        2. JamesHRH

          The last CEO wanted to create a Grad School culture.@FakeGrimlock:disqus is right – they have engineers building stuff for themselves and the wondering why it does not go mainstream. Ever been to a tech grad school?Mainstream does not come to mind…..

          1. Dale Allyn

            Sounds like we all agree (you, FG and I). I have complained of Google’s direction for years, consistently lamenting that the UI/UX of the products, and even the products themselves in some cases, are examples of “by engineers, for engineers”. Obviously a very successful company, but one which has left a lot on the table because of the engineer-centric user experience.

  14. LIAD

    Thinking about the reduction in distance between you and a computing deviceMainframes = walk across town to access one. Desktops = walk across the room. Laptops/tablets = walk across to your bag.Smartphones = put hand in your pocket.Google Glass = just open your eyes. Next big thing = just have brain function.

    1. mrcai

      I guess this is where Wall-E got it wrong. The humans were still having to press buttons to get what they wanted. (I’m sort of half joking)



        1. Luke Chamberlin

          Ghost in the Machine

          1. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          2. ShanaC

            I loved that movie.

        2. ShanaC

          Actually, I thought the use of computers in Avatar were the most realistic future that I’ve seen.

    2. Dave Pinsen

      Neal Stephenson anticipated something along the lines of Google Glass 20 years ago in Snow Crash.

      1. Luke Chamberlin

        He also called the people who wore them constantly “Gargoyles” and they were shunned by the majority of society.

        1. Dave Pinsen

          True. I remember thinking of that when Blue Tooth headsets first became big, that Blue Tooth users should be shunned too.

          1. Luke Chamberlin

            I, for one, shun them.

          2. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          3. Albert Hartman

            Maybe too advanced to see. Brain implants are not externally visible.

          4. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          5. Dave Pinsen

            I don’t see many now here either. I was referring to when they first appeared.More generally, it seems mobile phones are used less for speaking and more for instant messaging and emailing today.

          6. Timothy Meade

            I guess as one of those demanding an internet device when all the market was offering was ‘phones’ I saw the future and didn’t know it.

          7. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          8. fredwilson

            i agree in general. but you can’t listen to hip hop via sms.

          9. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          10. LE

            Drop in bluetooth coincided with a) more cars with bluetooth b) iphone which had a really easy to use way to do speakerphone

          11. ShanaC

            I don’t think that will happen with the glass headset. They seem much more limited than a Gargoyle headset.

    3. Matt A. Myers

      Next big thing, telepathy? ๐Ÿ˜‰

    4. davidhclark

      And what do you think the platform is for Google Glass? Internet-Web-Apps-?

  15. slowblogger

    You said “It rewards small, application specific, feature light services.” I think you are right in most cases.What about for mobile website? When you have a feature rich desktop website, how would you advise us to make the mobile web version? Facebook has a mobile website as well. The current wisdom seems to be presenting key features only, eliminating non-key ones on the desktop site. But could even the key features be somehow presented separately like apps?

    1. fredwilson

      Break it up into a set of discrete connected mobile apps

      1. Shyam Subramanyan

        Would this really work? I feel that a splintered Facebook experience across multiple apps is not as compelling as a the desktop experience. Maybe there’s some sort of “glue app” that can pull them together or/and the mobile platforms need to allow apps to do more in concert with each other instead of putting them in walled gardens.

        1. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          1. Shyam Subramanyan

            MULTIPLE APPS IS COMPLICATEDha, that felt good!

          2. FAKE GRIMLOCK


        2. ShanaC

          The main app on android works like that right now.Facebook as it is currently structured is hard to translate into a mobile experience.

      2. slowblogger

        Do you mean we would have to keep the mobile web as an integrated site with multiple features, but give users simpler single-purpose apps?

        1. fredwilson

          Hadn’t thought of how you’d handle the mobile web app. I will give that some thought

  16. jkaljundi

    What’s your take on mobile and mobile first for enterprise startups and B2B apps? How much of a future vs right here right now that is?



  17. giffc

    I switched to mobile-first design a little while ago but have been going through this logic:* if you should use phone capabilities like GPS, accelerometer, phone, then be native* if you think it likely to be discovered in the app store, then be native* if you will be discovered via search engine or an email, then start with a responsive website that ensures a great mobile experience (and thus get benefits of multi-platform and easier iteration).Do you think most cases should go for native across the board right now?

    1. fredwilson

      Yes I do

      1. ChuksOnwuneme

        Agreed. Every consumer product today must have a mobile ‘strategy’. However, “native” will change over time. I believe it will all come together with cross platform frameworks that bridge the gap between “web” and “native”. Today, we call that “hybrid”. Responsive design patterns can today be encapsulated within ‘hybrid’ apps and also distributed via app stores, as well as natively on the (mobile) web. This is the promise of the web, and mobile makes it even more meaningful now, by turning the idea of mobile ‘platforms’ into flatenned paradigms.

      2. joemccann

        Ultimately, it’s not about web or native or mobile or not…It’s about being future friendly to support *any* type of device that will consume your content:To Be Future Friendly, Is To Be Device Agnostic:

        1. Dale Allyn

          Exactly!Nice presentation, Joe. “Device agnostic” is my mantra. Mobile is great, but don’t abandon the browser, desktops, tablets, etc., etc. S.O.A.

        2. ChuksOnwuneme

          That’s exactly the point I made below: ‘I believe it will all come together with cross platform frameworks that bridge the gap between “web” and “native”. ‘That’s the future – the agnostic layer. We used to call this “convergence” at Nokia back in the days.

          1. joemccann

            IMHO, “cross-platform” bridging the gap is significantly different than recognizing the contextual differences between native and web. For example, the web has discoverability and inherent sharing (URLs) baked in whereas you can’t deep link to an app and share it with someone (at least not easily).My suggestion is to consider the web as a medium and native components as another medium. If a “wearable” device such as a watch that is internet-connected, does a browser make sense there? Probably not and cross-platform solutions don’t/won’t solve this issue. That being said, having a Service Oriented Architecture for your content that is device agnostic, will allow your content to actually live on said wrist-watch, regardless of a browser context existing at all.

    2. Mark Essel

      Worth noting, you can have a gorgeous native app, built on a open API to gain the benefits of the net & advantages of native specialization

    3. Britt O'Halloran

      This deserves its own post. There are definitely instances when mobile websites try to get you to install an app and it’s annoying. Some things definitely belong in a responsive website.

    4. Luke Chamberlin

      News sites or any sites with viral content that share links through twitter and facebook need to have great mobile sites because your content will be accessed through the built-in browsers on those apps.

    5. David A

      Go native if it is matters. However, also go a mobile (responsive) website for the reasons mentioned above but also if it is matters.Native is somewhat a pain in the ass to develop for but still gain the best performance. No matter how fast the phones are, etc. a virtualized environment will be slower (see Apple’s UIWebView vs Safari as a good example) where the browser environment will be slower than the native.Hybrid development tools will be good enough (if that’s what you need) but also comparable slower than apps developed natively, b/c they are not 100% native. Maybe, they haven’t optimized the HTTP stack; maybe the compass doesn’t work (and for Android there are a few different variants).My model to go would go native for the most common phones in your market (iPhone 5, 4GS, 4G; A few Samsung phones; 1-2 HTCs, 1-2 LGs, 1-2 Sony and maybe 1-2 Chinese) and do responsive mobile web solutions for the rest. But you’d still end up having to test for a few them (Lumia 800, Blackberries, older Android).It’s unfortunately costly to go Mobile. But as Fred says, you don’t have that feature rich. Just make the most important features work.

  18. jonsteinberg

    Comscore “Total Universe” will soon be the default. It measures all web and mobile together. Since we get so much of our traffic from mobile web, we’re glad they are finally moving this way.

  19. dotpeople

    Publication of personal/corporate data stores via API will enable multi-context digital time travel (analytics/history, scenarios/future). This will reduce the monopoly power of centralized aggregators and create new markets along boundaries that reflect emotional/cognitive latency, rather than technology/organization latency.

  20. shareme

    I submit that because Android is already split up this way of groups of features as mobile apps through its intent system that Google has already been one-half step ahead of FB.But your mobile app metaphor does hold merit as it is not the way that most Fortune 500 firms approach their mobile app dev/design and it should be.(my revised twitter demo app was of that approach of splitting up the app into functional categories).The difference between FB and Google in mobile ads is that Google has a mobile ad revenue replacement in the form of revenue sharing it does on in-app purchasing, etc whereas FB does not. FB’s whole biz model is being over-turned.FB’s counter might be to strengthen their app store aspect on mobile by forking Android with their own app store.

  21. jason wright

    The web is generally a tethered experience while mobile is mobile. What role will the car play in accelerating the mobile evolution?

    1. Carl Rahn Griffith

      The car, as it is now, is about as relevant as Facebook, as it is now… ๐Ÿ˜‰

  22. kirklove

    How do you explain my personal favorite “startup” Kickstarter? With zero mobile at all, but rocket growth and revenue?Not saying mobile isn’t huge. Just saying select interactions require more depth.

    1. fredwilson

      Imagine if you had kickstarter on your phone with highly targeted notifications

      1. kirklove

        Honestly, it would matter little to non to me. Clearly I’m the exception as your mobile growth trends indicate.

      2. MHSzymczyk

        Why does everything “have” to be mobile? There are great businesses that work with mobile just like there are great business that work with web. There are great business that will also work with iTV and so on…

        1. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          1. MHSzymczyk

            I GUESS IN THE FUTURE WE’LL ALL BE SPEAKING IN CAPS TOO…Mobile will be a big segment in the future but not the be all, end all. The desktop is poised to shift to the iTV environment and laptops and tablets will continue to take the desktop experience mobile. Smartphones are and always will be limited in what user experience and functions they can provide for the consumer.

          2. FAKE GRIMLOCK

            YOU MUST BE NEW.

          3. Timothy Meade

            Grimlock’s words do not fit in lowercase, it’s not a limitation, it’s a feature.

          4. Dale Allyn

            If this is really true then we’re moving toward dumbing down the experience and the users of the internet. Some experiences are simply inferior on mobile, even if mobile is crucial to convenience at times. (Not going with Google glasses yet, nor any heads-up display for some time.)Mobile is extremely important, but deep and vibrant resources, including content and tools, are needed in environments which exceed a 3×5 inch veiwport. The best experiences and products/services will richly support both mobile and desktop, especially when there is an advantage in having more screen real estate.Online discussions such as this tend to be incomplete because there are nuances and opportunities which lie outside of the main topic thread. If we’re talking pure social plays, desktop is far less crucial; if we’re talking anything where detailed work is done, deep information sought or published, or the need/desire to work in multiple tabs of a browser, etc. then supporting the product with a great desktop option is also important. Each product, service, and targeted market must be factored in to the equation.[Edited a couple of words for clarity.]

          5. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          6. Dale Allyn

            I don’t argue against your observations for trending, but I do suggest that also submits to mediocrity and worse. If the goal is only to make a little (or a lot) of money and “flip a widget” I completely agree. I also agree that by applying what contributes to the success of the “widget”, i.e. reduced friction for the user, etc., one can also increase the likely adoption of more substantive products.It’s abundantly clear that the path of least resistance towards the money (as a product of least effort) is to find the “low energy” access point and deliver the next fun app to fill time while waiting for the bus, the dentist, our next appointment, or to do something to help us meet persons of the opposite sex. But hopefully that is not the only future of the vast tools provided by the web.Of course there’s education, B2B, B2C, and many other opportunities which deserve and will receive disruption. If done properly I believe they can be enormously successful, both financially and with regard to contribution against the dumbing down of the Web. It’s not the easiest path, nor the path to easy money, but it’s important and will be very lucrative to those with the right vision.Again, we don’t disagree on the importance of low-friction, nor on certain trends, but we may differ on the wider view in terms of opportunity and responsibility.

          7. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          8. Dale Allyn

            We agree on that.(And my use of the word “flip” may not have been accurately illustrative of my point.)Cheers.

      3. Matt A. Myers

        Instantly providing access to deciding on future entertainment, media/games/products, and that you help support in creating – and if it isn’t successful, no risk. And it’s media to begin with. It’s a win.Kickstarter might have to let more projects in the pipe though; I imagine there’s a ratio of users/pledgers/money being pledged to the number of projects (similar) that can be promoted at once, based on disposable income available. Or maybe they don’t.

        1. Timothy Meade

          I guess the point is Kickstarter is really two markets, one a broad ideas market, the other a future availability of content market. (Repeatable transactions) I would much rather see them disrupt the studio system without losing the first part of the equation.

          1. fredwilson

            i see it as one big market, not two markets

          2. Timothy Meade

            Fair enough, I should revise my statement. I think Kickstarter is currently one market, encompassing both generative and repeatable transactions, but will evolve into two markets in time.Let me define both terms. I take ‘generative’ to refer to creating something novel, in both form and content or subject matter. If my project is a movie, the form is not novel but the subject matter may well be. It may be an adaptation, or a remake, or some other novel concept, but the fact of it being a movie remains. I believe the generative side will result in innovations we cannot yet imagine, and things will be funded by the early adopter crowd in a more direct way than the venture model allowed/allows. (Think Apple I arising out of the HBCC, and early adopter feedback producing the Apple II).By repeatable transactions I mean things like movies, a democratic model replaces the studio system but eventually that niche finds it’s own more effecient market, people discussing scripts, or books to option, etc. This could split out of Kickstarter. That’s what I mean by it being two markets, I see that as an eventuality, something that will happen, and I usually speak this way, “seeing things as they can be and asking ‘why not’ to paraphrase a common saying.

          3. fredwilson

            yes, that could happen. but i think both of these experiences benefit from the liquidity that a single large market creates

      4. ShanaC

        I can’t figure out what that would look like. Part of the joy of kickstarter is that my interests are broad and that kickstarter is supposed to be broadening them further.

        1. fredwilson

          the social graph helps a lot with that. i fund a lot of projects that people i follow fund.

          1. ShanaC

            I’m the exception to the rule, I have yet to find something on kickstarter that I definitely want to fund. It is like I am planning to, but nothing is pulling me enough to want to be an impulse purchase that I would wait for.

    2. Abdallah Al-Hakim

      I agree with @kirklove:disqus point. Some interactions ‘require more depth’ and mobiel is a very passive process to me. It works for apps like foursquare and instagram but would not work as well for services such as Engagio. I am not saying that Engagio should not have a mobile app but when I am using it, I am looking to discover and get engaged with conversations which is not as feasible on a mobile device. Also, other services such as prismatic – also work better for me on the web than mobile. This might not be a new theme but for me mobile is about ‘passive’ internet and web is about ‘productivity’

      1. Timothy Meade

        It’s not feasible with the current state of Disqus on mobile, I kind of hope William has a direct solution for that.

        1. Abdallah Al-Hakim

          I agree. It would be very cool to follow my conversations through Engagio on mobile device (and maybe have a favourite option such as twitter or bookmark).



      1. fredwilson

        not for much longer

        1. FAKE GRIMLOCK


    4. Albert Hartman

      Kickstarter transactions are usually high dollar amounts – not for simply wallet or pocket change. Big dollar spends usually involve more research, more sober comparisons over longer periods of time. PC’s are a better platform for doing this right now.

      1. fredwilson

        i am not sure that first statement is true

  23. Dirk de Kok

    Love this post. Monetization on mobile, as shown by Facebook’s struggle to do well, is the next code to crack. I agree that as users are on mobile in a very focused state of mind, they are not open to advertisements, in particular not those that are in the way of achieving a goal. Subscription, in-app purchase might be better, also when users become more aware of the fact that if they are using a free service, they themselves are part of the offering being sold to the companies paying the bill

  24. Peter Cranstone

    RE: Mobile does not reward feature richnessSure it can. We have two mobile browsers that allow native access to all device capabilities, have advanced security and privacy features, and support real time customization of the browser menus for added personalization. And this year weโ€™ve been identified by VDC Research as only one of 6 startups in the US with potentially disruptive and important (Patented) technology within the mobile ecosystem.

  25. Rahul Singh

    I enjoyed reading this post.It’s always best to adapt to the changing world as soon as you can.Mobile is the way forward. Just like PC dominated in the earlier decades, the future generations will be dominated by mobiles. Most of the major players have already ported/converted their softwares to suit the mobile world. Those who don’t will be left behind.Though we can’t predict about future but, it will be definitely be some kind of portable device that can be easily carried around. Technology is moving forward at a rapid pace. The innovation in the apps has to match up with the innovation in the platform.

  26. Carl Rahn Griffith

    The thing that concerns me is the ever escalating costs of one being mobile – I have noticed a number of friends/associates having similar concerns re: their mobile bills escalating more and more, month on month creeping upwards, as they load and use more and more mobile apps that are predicated on Push/Notify, lots of interaction, images, etc. It’s all awesome stuff, but…In fact of late I have been spending time when out and about with cellular data disabled to avoid the temptation/cost – so, unless I am in a free WiFi zone my iPhone is simply a ‘phone – nothing more. I have found this very easy to adapt to and the cost savings have been dramatic.Mobile is indeed the game changer – I don’t even use my iPad nowadays, and unless I need to do intense work stuff I rarely use my Macbook – I live on my iPhone – but, the stumbling block is I believe the potential cost implications. Just last year (a pretty average year, not a lot of international travel) my mobile bills came to some ยฃ1300. I have recently ditched my secondary iPhone (private number) to cut costs. OK, I can offset much of this against business but that is not sustainable and, frankly, an unethical amount to charge. Friends with teenage kids are now running at some ยฃ30-50 per month billing on average – that’s insane, frankly, and when money is tight for many that is not going to last.Ubiquitous WiFi is now more important than ever – and mobile operators better start re-thinking their business models because I know a lot of people are getting very p*ssed off with the costs.

    1. fredwilson

      That’s why I am excited by something disruptive like data only plans that offer a few gigs a month for $10 or less

      1. Carl Rahn Griffith

        Absolutely. We are in process of consolidating all our comms costs at home – roughly ยฃ2k last year when one adds in home phone, Skype credits, broadband, etc. Insane, and time the telco printing money party ended.

      2. ShanaC

        are you seeing that stateside though?

      3. Timothy Meade

        At least Verizon remembers what brought them ascendancy, shared family plans when everybody else had complicated contracts.They are finally doing the same for devices, the shared pool is a good idea (though the limits are quite limiting).It’s interesting that incumbency lets them play like spectrum is scarce and charge monopoly rents, I do hope that’s a short lived phenomenon.

    2. kenberger

      The dream of mobile WiMAX and companies like TowerStream was to cover entire metro areas with a cloud of broadband data using 1-3 antenna towers. You then run around with a WiMAX client, make VoIP calls, etc. Very disruptive concept to the carriers and Intel had an interesting dance with them.Of course this type of vision has yet to come true but we’ll see it some day.

      1. Matt A. Myers

        I personally don’t like the idea of fewer-but-higher-output antennas. Lower energy and distributed would be better for a number of reasons, though would be less profitable for those companies offering it.

        1. kenberger

          I understand that *technical* argument, but doing a mesh has proven so far to require a company likely to resemble a carrier.sure, today we have in the UK, Fon, etc providing theoretical wifi blanket coverage, but try using them and you find it far from ubiquitous. These bottom-up, grassroots plans do resemble the way the Internet proper came to be, but have yet to really work practically.

          1. Matt A. Myers

            I think there has to be some collaboration between the city and neighbourhoods for it to take off properly.

    3. Matt A. Myers

      It’s becoming more common among people I know to take advantage of free wireless when they’re out and about.Also, more people are switching to companies who offer month-to-month and don’t lock you into 3-year terms because of this exact reason of it being ridiculously high – especially when a lot of the time now I don’t need my phone connected 24×7, and would be happy planning my use around wireless spots that I am going to.

  27. kidmercury

    I think one of the new themes I will keepp rrepeaing like a broken record is that technology haas gotten too far ahead In the west. All the problems people ignore wwill intervene to ddisrupt much of the current trajectory. Financing iss thee most important and obviouss one as the coming end to abundant credit, which will change how companies sscale and monetize.Lots more doom and gloom I can add but on a mobile. These devices suck for input. For now….



  28. Paul Sanwald

    I think that the trending towards native mobile apps is interesting from an engineering perspective, because the first thing that we did when building our ipad app at “big investment bank” is re-architect our server side into a set of very generic, language agnostic services. In the startup world, everyone starts out like this, but it’s not the case with large corporations that have a lot of older systems, before things like REST. thing is, those legacy systems, a lot of times, expose very interesting data/logic.I think the interesting point was that for us at “big investment bank”, mobile was a big enough driver to do something that we otherwise would not have invested engineering dollars in, and it put us into a very different place technically.I can’t help but think that side effects of mobile/native app development, particularly on the server side, could lead to something really interesting.kinda rambling over coffee on a sunday morning ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. fredwilson

      Great point about how mobile is driving architectural changes



    2. Richard

      I heard a similar comment from big publishers like Conde Naste

  29. Guillaume

    A technical consequence of this shift towards mobile is not that there will be less servers, but it is that there will be more servers, serving APIs. The problem is that APIs are usually poorly designed. I believe there is a way to do them better. Wrote a reaction to this article here:

    1. Richard

      Id like to learn more about your take on this. Addition books or white papers? Conferences?

      1. Guillaume

        Nothing like that: I am a simple hacker in a Chinese tech company, and we do a web app that is using an API architecture, so I have some ideas on how I would try to do it if I were to rewrite it from scratch.

  30. Ari Herzog

    Intriguing you think Facebook will jettison its monopoly into several mobile products. Yet didn’t they launch Places with fanfare only to witness less and less people use it?

  31. MHSzymczyk

    Fred – Though mobile is growing, you cannot disregard the web – especially for commerce. It’s also important to separate mobile out between smartphone and tablets as both provide a different experience and as a result, usage habits. For example, for commerce, smartphones are only projected to comprise 7% of all e-commerce related activity by 2016. The remaining 93% will be split between tablets/laptop/desktop. This is from the Forrester Research Report “Mobile Commerce Forecast 2011 – 2016”. In addition, if you look at reports from Google on Tablet Usage, you’ll see the majority of time is spent on 3 areas – email, social networking and gaming. With all the hype around mobile right now, it’s important to understand how people are using mobile devices and plan accordingly.Matt

  32. Jeff Jarvis

    I say “mobile” is a misnomer that leads some companies down the wrong road, envisioning users on a road looking for lattes. Most tablet usage is in the home. I use my “mobile” phone all the time in my office and even at home and certainly in boring meetings, when I’m quite sedentary. Mobile = local = around me now. Mobile is my personal bubble. It is enhanced convenience, putting the device and the world in my hand. That’s the power of “mobile.” Next imagine access to all this information and functionality without the device: Cue the war between Siri and Google Glass to eliminate the last mediator, the thing. I see companies assuming that mobile requires maps and geography or apps and closed worlds. But I think what we now mistakenly call mobile will be about the opposite: getting each of us to what we want with fewer barriers and less effort because the service (often through the device or the OS: thus the war of iPhone v. Android) has gathered so many signals about us: who we are, where we are, what we like, whom we know, what we know, what we want to know, what we buy…. The power of what we now call mobile, I believe, is in signal generation and the extreme targeting and convenience that enables. That is why commerce works (and few thought it would on the small screen): because I cut through layers of search and discovery and get what I want — a nearby pizza or a Gilt-y pleasure — so easily. This is where we need to rethink media around informing you in new ways. Advertising? I’m not sure what advertising is. What we call “mobile” is disruptive in ways we can’t yet figure out. We call it “mobile” but we should call it “what’s next.”

    1. gregorylent

      agree …. it’s what we use when our intuition is asleep … has nothing to doing with being in motion

    2. Britt O'Halloran

      Maybe more appropriately “personal”

    3. fredwilson

      I use a tablet for reading but not much else. I do most everything on my phone. But I know that tablets are important devices for commerce and such. I just haven’t developed a habit of lugging a tablet around. It sits on my bedside table, coffee table, kitchen bar, reception area table, etc

      1. kenberger

        I’ll have a nexus 7 tomorrow and expect us to become inseparable. Fred can attest I’ve been carrying and touting the 7″ tablet since I was the only one doing so. Unlike this ipad I’m now typing on, a 7 fits in my pocket (albeit baggy pockets, and just barely). Total game changer with uses we’ve yet to see.

        1. jason wright

          I’d like to hear how it works out for you.

          1. kenberger

            I can already tell you because I have carried the original Galaxy Tab and several other android 7″ers for 2-3 years now. This 1 is the best yet. Forget anything closed like the Fire or Nook, as they defeat the open nature.Compared to 10″ (ipad or android):The size is just large enough that I can carry it with me. Etsy has people that make belt carrying cases. Reading is perfect as you can hold it in one hand. Movie watching on a train is about as good an experience (to me) as with a 10″. Perfect for use as media remote control (though I wish boxee would port its amazing ipad app to android tablet). I can read and type while laying in bed. Can’t do that with an ipad, which never leaves the house. The 7″ often does.

          2. andyidsinga

            hehe .. my buddy’s been talking about getting a samsung galaxy note.. I’m daring him to do it ๐Ÿ™‚

        2. fredwilson

          i am getting the nexus tablet this week. i am giving my kindle fire to gothamgal and moving on.

          1. William Mougayar

            I’m going to get one too. I wasn’t very pleased with the LG Optimus 3.5″ during my 2 week roaming road warrior experiment.I think the Nexus 7 will finally be a serious competitor to the iPad. 8 or 16 GB? I thought it had a 2-3 weeks availability from now.

          2. fredwilson

            Secret source. I am sure you can guess

          3. William Mougayar

            Lol. It starts with a G?

          4. fredwilson


          5. kenberger

            I will jettison my iPad and also give a slapshot to the Apple TV hockey puck.

      2. ceonyc

        Lugging a tablet around? Perhaps you should spend a little more time on free weights. ;)Lugging a tablet is what I did with that terrible Toshiba thing I used to use at USV:…4.5 pounds (looked it up) to iPad’s 1.4. Any lighter and it would float.

        1. fredwilson

          i just got the nexus 7″i think i am going to try it as my only device.i will put skype and a bria sip client on it.not sure i can stick with it, but even if its an experiment it will be interesting

      3. Shyam Subramanyan

        The tablet is also less personal than a phone. It’s a anyone can pick up and use device in my household.

      4. LE

        Agree for personal use (I sold my first gen ipad a few months after purchase, but will buy the ipad3 so I can tether and replace a mifi) but tablets are killer for business applications and medicine especially with the high res camera.When the price drops further you will see many more business applications that they can be used for instead of people filling in forms they will interact directly with tablet devices at pop, medical (doctor to doctor consults) even restaurants.

      5. Guest

        My iPad used to sit unused by my bed for months. I bought a Zagg case w/ a keyboard and it’s completely changed my behavior. I am now lugging it around more than my computer.

    4. Carl Rahn Griffith

      I think advertising is becoming engagement.

    5. brmore

      I don’t think it’s so much that “Mobile = local = around me now” as it is that mobile = personal. Mobile is about me, or delivery of experience to me and me alone. If I’m right then the “what’s next” is more personalized content and tailored experience delivered to me via ubiquitous small(er) device.I am intrigued.

    6. Luke Chamberlin

      Humans have used hand-held tools for thousands of years. It is a key evolutionary distinction that separates us from most other species on earth.We *like* touching and manipulating objects with our hands. It’s hardwired into our brains.I don’t think the elimination of the “thing” is a desirable or even viable goal.Siri is great for situations when you *can’t* use your hands (i.e. driving in the car).Google Glasses, or interfaces like them, will be used by only a tiny fraction of the population. Their wearers will become a new ‘Gargoyle’ class, constantly uploading video and audio to the net (Snow Crash reference….

      1. ShanaC

        I am not as sure that they will be a “gargoyle” class. Unlike the Gargoyle, these are much more lightweight. Theoretically you could alter google Glass to actually be a pair of glasses.Plus I’ve heard that currently they provide fairly minimal interesting computing architecture. It is very difficult to have them do something when controlling them requires you to stare in different ways.

          1. ShanaC

            still, it is minimal, the gargoyle computer described in the book is something like 2x/3x the size

      2. fredwilson

        i am re-reading snowcrash right now. such a great book.

        1. laurie kalmanson

          the deliverator. #becauseawesomei liked “the diamond age” even better, up to the last couple of chapters. i was thinking about that book today, when i read about 3d printers making burritos…

          1. fredwilson

            And apparently drugs too!

          2. laurie kalmanson




      1. Carl Rahn Griffith

        And Out? ๐Ÿ™‚

      2. ShanaC

        never completely. just changed.

      3. Albert Hartman

        Certain things that people would tolerate when they had lots of screen area are not acceptable when they’re on a small screen. Not all companies will get the transition right. Google & MSFT have never met any whitespace that couldn’t fit in another ad.

        1. FAKE GRIMLOCK


    8. Dave Pinsen

      Mobile apps are often easier/quicker to use. When I’m at home, I’ll often use an app on my phone rather than the web version for that reason. It’s just physically easier and quicker for me to enter workout details on the iOS version of Fitocracy than the web version; same with looking up an optimal hedge using Portfolio Armor. And Twitter’s mobile app lets me do things (such as quoting tweets) that I can’t do on its web version. The mobile version of Twitter also seems less buggy.

      1. Donna Brewington White

        Same here. When working I am often moving back and forth between web and mobile choosing the most convenient interface for whatever I am doing in the moment. Sometimes my mobile device is the signal for something that I need to attend to on my laptop –for instance I have multiple email addresses and it is easier to keep track of incoming on my mobile device and sometimes I am doing two or more things at once on two different devices. Sometimes the only reason I am on web instead of mobile is keyboard access.

      2. fredwilson

        i prefer twitter on the phone too

    9. Rudy Cardona

      Jeff, I have a tendency to agree with most of your post. I think ‘mobile’ as in the phone, is a device that can and will provide services, banking, weather reports, I also think that most of the mobile as its being used now in the mainstream is as a ‘boredom killer’.The mobile phone can and has killed services such as 411 but surprisingly if you still call 411 someone still answers, which means that people still are using it. Instagram works because it is a service, it’s product is simple but great. They hit a homerun, from every viewpoint. How many others mobile apps can you really say that about, the weather? Espn does a very good job as well.Mobile is NOT going to replace the web, period. It is quite frankly just going to be a different vantage point of doing different things. I understand it is very tempting to jump into a consumer ‘bored’ out of their minds and try to sell your content, but in the end, it is limited. Look at every bored housewife @ the park, every commuter on a train or bus.The gamechanger comes when Apple or another biggie decides to combine a phone/with a tablet. When that happens, look out. Then the real interesting things may happen. That to me is a perfect marriage and logical as well. I really don’t understand why someone hasn’t done it already.I also agree with someone else’s post below, as a company your going to need every type of application to survive.The real question that I haven’t read anyone write about yet, is IF mobile becomes what everyone thinks it will on this post, how do you control the costs for the consumer?Unlimited data plans are going away. There is NO way the utilities are not going to get their hands into the consumers pocket. For everyone here, I’m assuming that your employed, college educated and paid well. Most working Americans are not, and increasing the costs will only kill the golden egg..In our company our plan is to secure a strong enough product on the NET (which still has a HUGE following esp. for our business model), and use phone applications as a source of advertising, per se.

      1. Chase Rowbotham

        This already exists. Check out a company called Line 2. It turns your iPad into a phone.

      2. andyidsinga

        The minute they can figure out how to put a phone into one of these TV-Hat things ..its game over for the biggies – unless they get there first ;)…#want

    10. Dasher

      Web Was where the Puck was. Mobile is where the Puck is. Where will the Puck be?

      1. Bill de hOra

        I suspect it might be more than that. Mobile is a different game.

      2. andyidsinga

        wearable and internet of things is where the puck is going.

        1. Donna Brewington White

          internet of things?

          1. andyidsinga

            Oh yeah.. tiny computers ..all connected to the internet through wifi and 3/4g. Some are wearable – think smart watches, badges, circuits and chips woven right into clothing.

          2. andyidsinga

            also , fitbit is another great example of a wearable ..and arguably a thing of the internet …though not strictly connected directly to it.

          3. Donna Brewington White

            Thanks, Andy.

          4. andyidsinga

            most welcome ๐Ÿ™‚

        2. Dasher

          to wearable and internet of things, i would add natural user interface/gesture computing.

          1. andyidsinga

            I couldn’t agree with you more!

        3. testtest

          i registered the domain last year. the dot com was reg’ed in ’99 (too early for me)

          1. andyidsinga

            right on.. what are you working on?

          2. testtest

            not enough demand to do anything with that yet.who knows what’s going on in the future: could be selling clothes that display ads on them when looked at through google glasses. which the owner then gets some of the revenue, based on who looked at them, which ads etc.or something else.

          3. andyidsinga

            @chrishuntis:disqus @fredwilson:disqus ..came across this quora topic today relevant to wearable use cases – great food for thought about wearables in general.…Cheers!

          4. andyidsinga

            That’s really interesting stuff – thanks for sharing. Interesting how the google glasses are single display :).I wonder how much prior art is in this space – specially glasses form factor – my gut says a lot dating back to the 80s.

          5. testtest

            sounds right. casio had a touch screen calculator watch in 1984:…see this pattern over and over.

      3. andyidsinga

        …and spaceships. Spaceships are gonna be *huge*. [ I am totally serious – Elon Musk is sort of my hero ]

    11. Matt A. Myers

      It’s context. It’s accessibility. It’s having the context you want, when you want it. That’s what mobile facilitates – it allows you to see what you want, when you want it. With geolocation as an example, there can be guessing as to what you might want access to, further reducing friction. Voice commands further reducing friction through lessening the amount of actions required.Everything I’ve been focusing on for years now is relating to contextual views. It’s allowed me to see what the bigger picture looks like, how the holistic view should look. I’ve figured out some neat nuances. Pretty excited with what’s possible.

    12. JamesHRH

      Handheld. Or tablet & phone?

  33. EmilSt

    Totally agree about the mobile. I use 90% iPhone, 9% iPad and 1% desktop.I think the next big thing will be the the shift how we interact with web, from 2D to 3D. On smartphones, tablets, desktops, TVs…They are already figuring out the 3D without glasses (especialy for personal, one viewer devices) and perfecting the experience.Imagine FaceTime, Skype, music videos, games, websites for travel, food, anything in 3D…There will be less and less text (utility) and more and more images/videos/sounds (fun).3D and Siri, with their expected advancment in the next 5 years, will fundamentaly change the way we interact with web. They will begin to blur the lines between the real and the digital world.

  34. Carl Rahn Griffith

    Facebook currently reminds me of MS when it suddenly realised this thing called the Internet was gaining momentum and the browser was where it needed to be.

  35. poke

    I think it’s important to finally acknowledge the limitations of the web. The transition to mobile isn’t just about mobility, it’s the transition from web to native and from ad-supported to paid or freemium. It’s time to admit that (a) HTML and the DOM are a terrible platform for applications; and (b) ads are a crappy way to support most businesses. The App Store gave us a safe way to distribute native apps and get paid for it, that’s the big revolution here. That’s why we’re not just seeing apps enhanced by mobility move to mobile but everything move to mobile. As others have said, it’s a mistake to think of this as being about mobility per se; people use their phones in meetings, their tablets on the couch. New users, especially, benefit from native apps that lack the bizarre failure modes of the web and have rich UIs.

    1. MHSzymczyk

      So what you’re basically saying is that a wall garden approach with apps is best? And that a freemium model over ad supported is better? And what about the limitations of mobile apps – fractured development environment, app discovery itself (how will users see your app from over a million without paid promotion), and so on. I’d argue it’s really more about the eventual evolution of mobile apps to the mobile web once HTML5 is ready.

      1. poke

        Yes. The ad-supported model has been popular because payments haven’t been in place, developers have been making do with web technologies because they haven’t had access to anything better. The browser is, from the perspective of apps, essentially a crippled App Store. HTML5 isn’t going to change that. The web is a fine medium for news, reference, blogging, etc, but it’s not and never will be a good platform for applications.

        1. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          1. MHSzymczyk

            Agree that native is winning now but disagree native apps will be the future…let’s use Admob and Adsense for example. Both function in the same manner – Admob to allow mobile app developers to display ads to monetize their app and Adsense to allow websites to monetize their site. In the mobile ecosystem, apps are winning now due to the walled garden platforms and immaturity of the mobile web. However, apps will not win out as the mobile environment matures and ‘micropayments’ revert back to web-based standards.To put all this in perspective, AOL, Compuserve, Netcom and others were in a similar walled garden approach for the internet in the late 90’s. You couln’t get on ‘the web’ unless you had AOL and you surfed the internet in the AOL environment. We all know how that turned out as the web matured…same will happen with mobile.

          2. FAKE GRIMLOCK


    2. Dmitry

      In case you’re not kidding: I’ve done native mobile development for 6+ years and I’m sick of it. I also did a lot of backend stuff which was nice, I guess, but lately I’m doing a lot of web frontend stuff and its a joy almost all the time. Modern web evolves every single day, not just 2 days a year when new OSes are shown. Great libraries, big communities which enjoy sharing their code and knowledge.I’m not a big fan of HTMLDOM, but it’s still the most flexible(considering time and effort) way to build really rich interfaces nowadays with css and js.I’m not a fan of ad-supported business as well, but still it *is* a way to monetize for lots of businesses. It’s can be suitable of not, but look at an average android free app… when I see it, i start to get why all those moster screens are for. To display crappy ads in crappy apps!On rich UIs… Check out this app on Google Play…Look at the fourth screenshot. This is pretty much the state of current mainstrean mobile UI. 1M+ downloads. Tons of reviews with “awesome!”, “amazing!” and so on. And the best part, how this crap is monerized? Take a guess? But even better, it shows an ad banner at the bottom of the screen when “scary moment” occurs!So this is it, welcome to the world with walled gardens, ads taking 20% of the screen and “native rich UI”.

  36. John Best

    Without a doubt we’ll see organisations that jump on emergent technology and create and define a market grow large, and then be out innovated in the next wave of emergent tech. It happened to MS, to RIM, and its happening to Google.I think the time of the app-as-a-program has to end soon. It’s worked nicely as a method for monetising internet content, but it’s not a great way of accessing that content. Having to load and run each app to get to each type of content is jarring.

    1. Albert Hartman

      You’re always in an app. It’s called the OS.

      1. John Best

        To an extent I agree. I love what MS is doing with integrating different types of content directly into the OS.

  37. Yasi Baiani

    Awesome post Fred. It makes me feel more confident about the decision I made for our company, ActivePepper, to develop our mobile app first and then our web platform as I totally could see that every thing is going on mobile with an exponentially fast pace.

  38. Tolu Babalola

    Interesting post, raises the question though how users feel about using their mobile phones for picture driven e-commerce purposes like say creating or browsing a wish list of several tens of photos and making a purchase. Personally, I know I would still enjoy doing that on my computer than on my phone, so much so that is someone sends me a picture of different variations of a product that I like and I’m out/about on my phone, I’ll rather wait till I get home to my computer to browse them and buy. Maybe that’s just me though.

  39. Joel Valdez

    I agree mobile is the place to be. I would disagree about splitting apps to make them simple though. Based for what you are saying it looks like Facebook will need to have, at the end, at least 10 apps! That’s, again, way too complicated.A new shift, paradigmn, in mobile app design, will need to emerge to create “simple”apps instead of creating one independent app for each



    1. fredwilson

      hmm. how recent? daniel said here in a comment a week or so ago that the team was focusing on mobile next.



  41. Vernon Niven

    Dear Mr. Marketer:Instead of interrupting me with mobile ads, how about focusing your energy on detecting needs I have right now and offering your assistance (or savings) before I have to search for it? that would be great, thanks.Detecting and meeting “latent demand” in non-interruptive ways is (I think) a big part of the future of mobile marketing. This is why I think Twitter + Apple (or something similar) wins the next round.Technically speaking, there’s no reason we can’t be doing this type of needs-based mobile marketing right now, as my recent blog post explains:…Of course, the biggest challenge to this or any sort of targeted marketing is privacy, aka the creepy factor. Do I want merchants and brands monitoring my every move? (alert: they already do)I think the creepy factor can be mitigated through better mobile app (or OS) settings. For example, I would like to edit my opt-in and notification methods with precision – block spammy vendors, change alert settings, send me a daily email, etc.Even with better controls, though, will people allow themselves to be monitored in exchange for real-time offers – especially on mobile? I think they will. Because many companies do, in fact, add value in my life. And this type of mobile marketing makes my life easier, saves me time and might even save me money. As long as I remain in control, let’s play!Text ads would work great for this type of marketing, btw.What do you think about this?

    1. ShanaC

      A) No one actually touches the settingsB) There is still space and time for awesome formats to happen on mobile – right now the bar on the bottom style is closer to a search ad stuck into a display ad. And it is ugly and it sucks. I do think that depending on the evolution of mobile we will get more awesome ads (ala the ones in vogue type of awesome, where they are beautiful to look at)C) Latent demand is going to be extremely difficult on a mobile phone – I mean functionally there is no great way to know that in .5 seconds I am going to be looking for food, and then it will be either pizza or udon, so which one should I get an ad served for again?

      1. Vernon Niven

        Thank you for your response. Some comments:A) good point.B) sure hope so. I’d love to see more beauty & creativity on mobile. As long as it doesn’t interrupt something important I’m doing right now. Flipboard seems to be moving in that direction.C) respectfully disagree. This is very doable today. Marketers are just not taking advantage of available technology to listen, detect and respond to latent (unmet) demand expressed in social media.Every day in the US, millions of people declare their explicit needs, wants and desires in social media for a wide variety of products and services. Almost none of these needs are heard, much less addressed, by merchants and brands today.Very few marketers understand that this latent (unmet) demand can be detected in real time with really good precision for almost any market or type of product – as long as people talk about it online. My company does this for brands right now.My point is that if we can detect latent mobile demand in real time (and we can in social media), then we don’t have to predict what someone wants in order to deliver the right ad (this is a very push-oriented display advertising POV). Instead, we just need to match the need detected with a relevant message/offer and deliver it to the person in need – within a few seconds if possible. Sounds more like search engine marketing, doesn’t it?Using this detect-and-respond method, a precisely-targeted Papa John’s offer can be delivered to a hungry consumer seconds after she tweets her desire for pizza.By the way, this exact behavior (People declaring their desire for pizza) is exhibited by thousands of people every hour. We track that one.Other types of latent demand that can be detected and responded to in the same way include questions, complaints and opinions.

        1. Timothy Meade

          One of the most interesting marketing ideas I’ve seen in a long time, wow. It looks like you are feeding the ads back silently, versus replying to the Tweet or other positing, though that is hard to tell from your website.My experience is that people don’t understand “re-targeting” think it’s a magic way to identify leads or consumers interested in a product, and as a result deluge me with an ad for something that was a passing interest.As Shana said, if I say I want something to eat I’ll probably have something in mind, pushing the Dominoes ad to me three hours later doesn’t make sense.If I look at a product it might be a longer term decision or purchase I”m making (I’ve been researching Samsung TVs for over a year, if you use Disqus as a data source you might assume showing me an ad everyday would change my intention to buy that product. In reality I’m waiting until I move into my new apartment, I’m waiting until I see I price I like and decide on an exact screen size and model. And really, if I have said I want a Samsung TV explicitly, why are both Amazon and Best Buy repeatedly showing me LGs?)Can I query you with something like my disqus id and get back a list of intentions?

  42. paramendra

    I thought the answer was obvious and is already industry wisdom. After SoLoMo it is Big Data, no?

  43. Semil Shah

    Two brief notes on this:(1) One construct is to think of Google (users searching) then over to Facebook/Pinterest (users discovering/curating) then over to Instagram (users generating/sharing location) and perhaps moving over to services that “push” information to our phones depending on the context — whether I’m at home, or downtown Palo Alto, or up in San Francisco for the day, or whether the phone has been resting for a long period, or whether I’m near someone. Seems like API support for location data is going to get stronger (and hopefully battery life will, too). In this framework, the next big set of services could be apps that push or enable the pushing.(2) re: the comment about Facebook splitting up their functions through various mobile apps, this piece may be provocative:

  44. Elie Seidman

    Like some other commenters have said, it’s worth clarifying – or changing – the use of the term “mobile”. What’s really happening is that the non www platforms are gaining share – a lot of it. The iOS story is already well known. Android is growing a lot though it’s still a bit too complex a platform for developers. And Windows8 apps (laptop, desktop and possibly tablet) are going to be a monster new platform – 100s of millions of machines very quickly. Consumers are voting with their legs and leaving the general purpose – build once, run anywhere – www apps in favor of device specific platform apps. We’re going back to 1995 except now the apps have social and connectedness deeply integrated; The platform apps of the 90s (largely Windows 3.1 and 95 apps) were built before the proliferation of networks so they did not focus on the things that are possible when networks are pervasive.

    1. Timothy Meade

      Maybe, but why would somebody use the same app on desktop Windows 8 as on the tablet or phone? It could be that Window 8 overall grows to that number very quickly, but mostly by displacing Windows 7 on desktop (and laptop). (as an aside, I love the Surface though ironically I would be getting the x86 one to run Ubuntu on)

  45. Colin

    “On the other hand, commerce works great on mobile if you have a well integrated (one click) purchase experience. The freemium model (whether it is virtual goods in games, in app upgrades, or something else) works very well on mobile.”I’m interested in your thoughts on how ecommerce like Amazon or Travel will move to mobile. Is anyone already doing it well?

    1. ShanaC

      Amazon is killing it with barcode scanning and the Kindle.

      1. MHSzymczyk

        But how is that ‘commerce’ – how many people are actually using smartphones to purchase on commerce related sites? From Forrester research, it doesn’t appear to be many…

      2. Dale Allyn

        I’d never be caught dead using Amazon’s scanner in a brick and mortar business. Using it within my home or office for replacing goods could be fair game, but walking into a merchant and scanning her inventory to put into an online shopping cart to pay less and avoid sales tax should be grounds for public humiliation and shunning. ๐Ÿ™‚ Used as they advertise on tv I found it very offensive.

        1. Shyam Subramanyan

          I use the app at brick and mortar all the time. It’s the best way to check for reviews on an item I haven’t researched before.I don’t mind paying sales tax, but if I don’t need the item immediately, I will order it online because of the VALUE I got from Amazon reviews and not just the lower price.And then there are times when I do my research on and head out to a local store to buy…

          1. Dale Allyn

            I can understand using it to read the reviews, but once I’ve taken from the shop keeper in the form of using his/her physical presentation of the product so that I can touch it, heft it, look at its fit and finish, I’ve exploited the brick and mortar opportunity and feel I should patronize them. Otherwise my approach is simply to order online and if it’s not to my liking, pay the cost of returning it.My feeling when Amazon launched that app was “fuck you (Amazon), build your own showrooms and put inventory in them so that people can view products and then order them for you”. (sorry for the f-bomb, but that’s pretty accurate to what I said when I first saw it. ;)We all want good value and most of the time want lower prices, but I can’t abuse hardworking, risk-taking shopkeepers (even large ones) by using Amazon’s app. YMMV. ๐Ÿ™‚

          2. Shyam Subramanyan

            I think Amazon has put together a resource that is much harder to do than build a show room and put inventory in them. Who are you going to trust – the sales guy on Best Buy floor or hundreds of peer reviews on Amazon?I guess we are all different, which keeps life interesting ๐Ÿ™‚

          3. Dale Allyn

            Shyam, I don’t hate Amazon, in fact I have things in my cart there right now. I am a customer there. I just have a real problem with them exploiting merchants.I agree that the reviews are a good resource, although I don’t trust the vast majority of them to be accurate as they pertain to my use-cases. I do often read them, but mostly check the negative ones and try to interrupt if the commenter is credible and has similar expectations to mine.I do tend to do a lot of research on products before buying, and Amazon reviews are not particularly high on my list of resources for any given product, but if ordering from their site I definitely look at the reviews.I’m not a patron of Best Buy, but I agree with your point. It’s very rare that a salesperson in larger retail outlets offer much useful information, although I have met exceptions.Again, I’m a customer of Amazon, I just don’t respect their app as they promote it. And, yes, our differences are something to recognize and embrace. Be well.

  46. Dave Pinsen

    A few quick questions for the board:For a subscription service offered on mobile and the web, with largely the same functionality, do you think the subscription fee should be the same for both?Should it be lower for the mobile version?If so, how much lower, in percentage terms?

    1. falicon

      I believe you should set the price of the service based on the value it provides, not the device it’s delivered on…so I think, if it’s the *same* service, feature, functionality, then it should be the *same* price (and ideally a price that includes access to both equally – though I think you can argue to have 3 prices, 1 for mobile, 1 for web, and 1 for both)…

      1. Dave Pinsen

        OK, thanks Kevin.

    2. Dale Allyn

      My preference is for one subscription which allows me access via any device. If there is a specialized native mobile app, and if it benefits me more as a convenience rather than a tool to sell me more product from the vender (i.e. Hertz should not charge for their app), then I’m okay to pay something extra for the native app option, but I’d rather it was rolled in. Each case is different (or can be), but if I’ve subscribed for a service, I’d accept the mobile app to be an add-on at a lower price than the subscription price.That said, I’m a fan of responsive design for mobile web visitors (or redirection to mobile friendly web version) to accommodate mobile users without a native app.I don’t like to be limited to viewing content from one platform or device-type, and such a service would suffer user-resistance IMO.

      1. Dave Pinsen

        Thanks, Dale.

  47. William Mougayar

    How about search? It’s still primarily Web based. Does it have a Mobile future?

    1. Timothy Meade

      Well the simple answer is that until the devices can read our mind we have to convey intention somehow. Today, we call that search.

    2. falicon

      I can tell you that my version of search absolutely has a mobile future… ๐Ÿ˜‰

    3. fredwilson

      DDG has a few mobile apps

      1. William Mougayar

        But does it do anything special for mobile? I think it’s a mobile web version, not a native app. Same for Google Search mobile which is optimized for mobile.

  48. Elie Seidman

    Question for you – what percentage of your time spent on a mobile device (whether tablet or phone) is spent in an app vs the www browser? Are there things you do on www that you’d prefer to do in an app but can’t? If you could migrate those to an app, what percentage of your time on device would now be in an app?

    1. fredwilson

      its about 50/50 for me. and i like it that way. i prefer to read articles in a browser for instance

  49. Todd Hoff

    Mobile sucks for the little advertiser unfortunately. Only the top X where X is small in any category can afford the preferential treatment afforded by Siri or the limited advertising channel. Yet there is great demand to be in front of advertisers at a reasonable price. How will this be reconciled?

  50. William Mougayar

    It’s funny I just spent 2 hours in the Frankfurt airport connecting flights, and noticed a few Internet access stations.ย But they were largely empty, 1 out of 6 seats was occupied in 3 stations I saw.ย Very few people will sit down to get Internet access, whereas this was different 3 years ago.ย 

    1. George

      Great observation, I’ve noticed a significant change over the past year as well.

  51. Darius

    @fredwilson:disqus great post, thanks! – TYPO: (last paragraph, should be “they” instead of “the”) the more the stay the same

    1. fredwilson

      thanks. fixing it now.

  52. JohnDoey

    Isn’t that just Apple growth, though?โ€ข iPad is replacing low-end ($500) PC’s โ€” iPad runs mobile apps, low-end PC’s run Web appsโ€ข almost 300 million iPhones sold in 5 years is a lot of growth in mobile appsโ€ข since 2006, 90% of high-end PC purchases are Macs, purchased to run Mac apps, not Web appsโ€ข on non-Apple mobiles, apps are not used that muchYou could also characterize 2001-2006 as growth in MP3 and flat CD sales, but it was not. It was growth in iPods (75% of music players sold) and iTunes (90% of PC’s.) iTunes Store sold ISO MPEG-4 AAC, not MP3, and iTunes sold 90% of the downloads. MP3 was 1998-2002 only. A lot of people were invested in pretending it was not over, but it was. A lot of people today are invested in pretending that there is such a thing as โ€œmobileโ€ and โ€œmobile apps.โ€ We’ll see. But the only non-Apple phones that are profitable are the ones that 1) copied iPhone most closely, and 2) sell where iPhone is not yet available. Once iPhone appears in a market, all the other phones stop being profitable because it outsells them all combined. AT&T is 75% iPhone and that is the trend everywhere.Another factor is the Mac has grown something like 5x since 2007, when โ€œmobileโ€ should have been killing it.

  53. Joe Lazarus

    Yep, mobile is where the growth is, freemium is the prevailing model, and startups have several advantages over incumbents due to the limited feature set of mobile apps. The challenge for entrepreneurs, though, is mobile distribution.All these factors are most visible in games, arguably the most mature mobile category. My company, Backflip Studios, started out a few years ago making free, ad-supported games like Paper Toss (#3 iPhone game of all time), NinJump, Strike Knight and more. We were able to grab share from the big console, PC and (more recently) Facebook game companies and expand the overall market by introducing casual games to a broader audience. Lately, several of our games have no ads but, instead, rely on (freemium) in-app purchases for revenue. DragonVale has held the top position in the iOS Top Grossing charts since we launched it nine months ago thanks to freemium and Apple’s elegant one-click in-app transaction system. Mobile allows startups like ours to build sizable, profitable businesses (often without outside funding, as is our case) by focusing on simple, limited-feature apps and by relying on the platform providers (iOS & Android) for infrastructure and transaction processing.The challenge for mobile entrepreneurs is that app discovery is still primarily driven by the Apple and Android top charts and those charts are increasingly dominated by a handful of companies with distribution power. Every once in a while, a game from a small company climbs the charts (ex. Temple Run), but most of the top 50 mobile games are made by the big guys (Zynga, EA, etc) or by established startups that use their previous popular titles to cross-promote new games and drive them up the charts (Rovio, Backflip Studios, TinyCo, Storm8, etc). Distribution is, in many ways, easier on the web since it’s not so heavily centralized like it is for mobile and the top charts. On the web, we have SEO, more established social acquisition channels, higher ROI paid channels and whatnot.No doubt mobile is fertile ground for startups, but startups need to have a clear distribution strategy if they’re entering the market now. Fun times!

    1. MHSzymczyk

      Great comment…with all this mobile talk everybody often overlooks the challenges of app discovery and distribution. Definitely the biggest hurdles to overcome. What are your thoughts on how long native apps will continue to dominate mobile vs. an evolving mobile web? I personally don’t see the walled garden approach continuing infinitely as the mobile web matures…

      1. Joe Lazarus

        I would like to think that mobile web will eventually grow relative to native apps, but I suspect that in many categories like games, that it’s still a ways out. HTML5 just isn’t up to par in terms of game graphics quality and native app features like the accelerometer. Apple and Google have been good to our company. We’ll develop for the mobile web when / if our customers prefer that experience.

    2. fredwilson

      so true Joe. we had our portfolio at USV for a four hour session a few weeks ago called mobile app marketing. it was very eye opening. this is where the action is.

  54. george

    Great message! So thoroughly convinced by your mobile anatomy; I find my own user behavior being reshaped in this fashion. I agree, Twitter has great genes for the future and has engineered the right delivery for content and commerce. However, I’m still waiting for them to go all in; build a more meaningful left hand column – provide richer context or social features (they need to think about this space). Twitter’s value today is more than text and news; they have the right tempo, which works well in mobilization.

  55. jason wright

    “growth”, but does the web wither away as this happens?P.S. Italia!

  56. Jay Bryant

    Fred– this by far is one of your best blog posts– great perspective and advice.

  57. Brad Lindenberg

    When are you back? I want to show you a demo of our new service that ticks these boxes.

    1. fredwilson

      flying back today

      1. William Mougayar

        You left one day earlier and returning one day later than me ๐Ÿ™‚

        1. fredwilson

          VCs and entrepreneurs ๐Ÿ˜‰

          1. William Mougayar

            It reminded me of another thing where you were First in, Last out. You have good hurding instincts ๐Ÿ™‚

  58. Brad Lindenberg

    Being an investor means you are in the helicopter. You can look down and invest in entrepreneurs that are on the edge of the next big thing, and if you get it wrong, you can pick another team that might be right. The entrepreneur needs to be pick their battles a lot more carefully, for once we get our teeth into something, we are in the trenches (not the helicopter) and whatever front we choose to fight can quickly become an opportunity cost if we have not picked the right battle.If you are lucky enough to be able to pick a battle, pick mobile.

    1. fredwilson

      you are right. it is one of the many reasons i like being a VC.

  59. Yasi Baiani

    Great post Fred. It makes me feel more confident about the decision that I made for our company, ActivePepper, to develop our mobile app before our web-based product. Witnessing the exponential mobile usage makes it less compelling to go web-based first, especially for the consumer products.

  60. Dasher

    Web is where the puck was. Mobile is where the puck is. Where will the puck be?

    1. fredwilson

      that’s where i ended my post. i’d like to figure that out too.

  61. Emily Merkle

    You have to learn the rules of the game. And then you have to play better than everyone else. -Einstein

  62. LE

    “Because the big change that is going to upset your nice apple cart is right around the corner.”Sometimes it won’t be possible for an established company to get in front of the big change. Which is why in business you also need to time your exits. I think of this every time I hear of a young entrepreneur not wanting to sell their existing business or cash out. When I sold my nicely profitable printing business it was in the best year that I had and everyone thought I was crazy and I received plenty of criticism. My attitude was that nothing is guaranteed and who knows if I would ever get the same offer in the future or what business would be like in the future. The timing was pretty good as it happened the web came along about 4 years later.

  63. Gustavo Melo

    One massive future for mobile is in the intersection between technology and in-person retail shopping / service consumption, especially as mobile devices continue to enable augmented reality in new and interesting ways. And I don’t think that’s coming on a personal ipad the consumer has to carry around with them wherever they go – that’s just not practical.We are overdue for a wave of mobile technology that re-defines how consumers interact with the store where they’re shopping for a new pair of shoes, or the bar where they’re ordering a pint / watching the game, etc. I bet if we had more tech nerds who owned shoe stores or who ran bars and pubs, we would have cracked this by now.We’re also not quite at the point where you can walk into a store, have them immediately know things about you based on your digital footprint, and act on that information – but not because of lack of technology, it’s only a matter of what people will accept without being ‘creeped out’, and technology companies are gaining ground on this with every passing day. Soon (like, 5 years soon?), online social networks will have trained an entire generation to accept less and less privacy surrounding lifestyle habits, and whoever manages to translate that effectively into how businesses interact with consumers will score big.

  64. Andy

    “we have seen Microsoft go from being an unstoppable force to being a non-factor in many important new markets, we have seen Google go from being an unstoppable force to being a non-factor in many important new markets, “Microsoft made $5 Billion last quarter, Google made $3 Billion. How much did Twitter make? Cash flow and earning capabilities are what makes a market important, not check-ins or tweets.In the immortal words of Mike Tyson “Don’t Believe The Hype”

    1. Ben Apple

      “new markets” – not revenue

    2. fredwilson

      yes, of course. but i live and work at the cutting edge. that’s what i care about.

      1. Andy

        Sure it’s your job as a VC to determine what’s hype and what has strong lasting economic value, and obviously USV has a strong interest in seeing Twitter become an economic success.What drove my reply is to point out that Google and Microsoft have established themselves in important markets that are generating strong cash flows today, and in my opinion the jury is still out on whether services like Twitter and Foursquare will be able to do the same at the level of success Google and Microsoft have done. Although maybe it’s unnecessary to ‘defend’ the giants.

        1. Walt French

          โ€œโ€ฆ the jury is still out on whether services like Twitter and Foursquare will be able to do the same at the level of success Google and Microsoft have done.โ€Let’s make that how well various firms will do in the next couple of years, OK? Especially Microsoft is already showing signs of being disrupted by mobile: in the US market, PC sales are dropping quickly enough that Android new activations outnumber Microsoft platforms’, and Microsoft could easily fall into third place (behind Apple, the irony!) next year.Profits inevitably suffer more sharply than unit sales as the huge costs MSoft has wasted on Kin and other phone ventures, demonstrates. That’s part & parcel of the iPad phenomenon: most users, if they actually need Office, have it; many don’t and can save maybe $150/device by not buying the Microsoft s/w.All the hoopla about Instagram etc notwithstanding, the problem Fred identifies is that only two firms are making significant revenues from mobile (Apple & Samsung), while others are watching their โ€œfull internetโ€ revenues disintegrate when placed on mobile.

  65. jonathanmendez

    Mobile is Search. 25% of Google’s paid click this year will be mobile. In 3 years it will be the majority.

  66. David Abraham

    Twitter wins here. I think FB notificationed themselves to death…and charging for reach is a non-starter

  67. the build

    Smart post as you always do. I would just add that the internet is not a ‘mobile’ platform alone but a ‘fixed’ one and that it’ll soon be piped into all kind of other objects, both those that you can move around and those you can’t, large, small, etc. It’d be interesting to think about where and what measurement might do in this broader world, because that’s the one we’re about to be in.

  68. Mark

    This sounds like: be something people do, not a place where people go.

  69. Techman

    The mobile space is growing space.

  70. wilfra

    Great post.Couple of typo’s: “In technology the more things change, the more the stay the same”Should be ‘they stay the same'”Yahoo! is a question mark.”Should be ‘is completely irrelevant’:)

    1. fredwilson


  71. bassnation

    It’s a fallacy that Facebook is struggling on mobile – a cursory look around me on my daily commute and EVERYONE is using it on their phones. I couldn’t care less about FB messaging or a camera app and I suspect many other FB mobile users feel the same. This kind of analysis frequently turns out to be laughably wrong.

    1. fredwilson

      if they weren’t struggling on mobile they would not have had to buy instagrammy kids don’t do much photosharing on FB anymoreit has all moved to instagramthe average user’s behavior at any moment in time is not always a good indicator of what is happening at the margin

      1. Walt French

        Umm, likewise I’d argue that the really BAD implementation of the Facebook mobile strategy is a bad signal for how best architect rich services on mobile. The failure was not integration โ€” which is a great plus if it comes with only minor speed, complexity, price or other costs โ€” but the dog-slow implementation.

  72. Ahmed Diabate

    I obviously agree with the notion that mobile is where the growth is. More and more people are relying on their phones for daily tasks, and people without smartphones are now being seen as prehistoric. I believe the mobility of smartphones and tablets are the reason why they PC’s will die within 10 years. That being said, I don’t agree with the facebook mobile application idea. I feel as though multiple mobile apps won’t be as effective as having one app that everyone knows how to navigate around. Maybe if once in the application the user had a page where there were the smaller apps (instagram, messenger, etc), that would be more effective. I say this because I believe that the universal home screen is key for companies like Facebook or Twitter. This is because their users are sensitive to change, and breaking up the app into smaller apps could make diverge users for performing whatever task is at hand on the app. For example, if someone was on the app because they were bored and wanted to browse through messenger, they are less apt to do it because they would have to download another app (or another rarely used spot on their phone) which may be viewed as an inconvienience.

    1. Timothy Meade

      Taken to it’s ultimate conclusion: the web.

  73. arustgi

    Lets solve real problems for real problem. Speculating on whats next.. gets no one anywhere. Google wasn’t built because someone came to the conclusion that web is going to be next big thing. They wanted to improve the searchability of information…Speculating on what the next tech is going to be is like speculating what the stock market is going to be. its a fools errand.

  74. baba12

    when a product/service has a revenue based solely on advertising then it needs to garner really big number of users to achieve any significant revenue stream.ARPU number that Mr.Wilson talks about, I wonder what is the difference between what Twitter had stated on their business plan or in their discussions with USV, and what is the reality and based on that has Mr.Wilson and company tweaked their expectations to be. Is there a sweet spot that USV’s of the world expect especially in the mobile space and if so what is that and how close to that number do the portfolio companies reach or exceed?

  75. Jesse

    Fred, do you see a future in mobile web apps? With the announcement of Firefox OS and continued progress of Chrome OS, it seems like the browser will eventually make a comeback as mobile operating systems mature.

    1. fredwilson

      I sure hope so

  76. Moeskido

    It’s an interesting indicator of VC dogma (or tunnel-vision) that the author specifically mentions companies which have failed spectacularly in mobile, but somehow neglects to include the one enormous success story which has brought more consumers to mobile computing than any other technology company.The word you’re looking for is “disruption.” Apple’s iOS is the carefully-thought-out platform that, as far as millions of worldwide consumers are concerned, made it happen. Everyone else is falling over themselves to replicate it or respond in some way.Your omission is telling.

    1. fredwilson

      Not intentional but maybe subliminal

  77. Adam Grainawi

    It’s been my thought for awhile now that the UX on a smartphone pales in comparison to the UX on a traditional PC environment for the vast majority of applications.Some here, such as @FakeGrimlock:disqus have said that if it’s too complicated for mobile, it’s too complicated. I think that’s a cynical view of human attention span and appreciation for detail.

  78. thebeeobee

    I just recently saw an Evernote article that listed their revenue/user as very high for their Food and Hello app (higher than the full Evernote app). So yeah, this is in like with your specific, feature light, very specific apps beating the feature rich version.

  79. Melinda Byerley

    Dead on. We’re certainly seeing ROI on mobile advertising that’s double that of the web.

  80. Simnett

    I agree that “RIM is dying quickly now,” but isn’t that evidence of something a bit different- execution matters (even more in mobile(?)), mobile is consumer first, there was a complete break in mobile in 2007- or something else?I echo many of the comments here that I prefer the mobile versions of many services, off the top of my head- Tumblr, Twitter, Smugmug some to mind. That’s a very big change, and these are all mobile web, not apps…

  81. Stefanos Kofopoulos

    Food, fashion and freshness are the next big things.

  82. William Mougayar

    RE: “That is why Facebook should (and it looks like will) break its big monolithic web app into a bunch of small mobile apps.” That’s definitely happening. I just received an email from FB introducing a recent “free iPhone app called Facebook Pages Manager to help you keep up with the Pages you manage.”So FB’s mobile might be a hub and spoke model, where a number of small mobile vertical apps (photos, pages, etc.) will feed into FB the Hub.

    1. Abdallah Al-Hakim

      That makes complete sense and in a way might solidfy Facebook position by creating a large ecosystem of small mobile apps that are dependant on it for their own existence.

  83. Max Wendkos

    A few days late on the comment here, but I’d love to hear your opinions on what a startup should take into consideration when deciding whether to start out on web or mobile (if it intends to eventually operate on both).

  84. Scott Delacorte

    Mobiles are the future!

  85. Ben Bland


  86. 3g repeater

    Mobile is the device in which every second something new is researched. Now a days this device become one of the universal place using which people can do their variety of jobs.

  87. ayoguz

    I say the race for human attention span will soon hit a saturation point. Google Glasses is one recent sprint on the final lap of that race. At that point, other dimensions/flavors in our relationship with the customers/end users/consumers will have to kick in.Gathered my thoughts on where we might be heading on a blog post:

    1. fredwilson

      nice way to stitch all of that together coherently.

  88. Carl Rahn Griffith

    Consumerism is somewhat weeping in the corner, however… ๐Ÿ˜‰





  91. LE

    Simply not true.Advertising (and branding) unzips people’s heads and drops ideas in that grow into desires that create demand. Not saying there aren’t other ways, but that type of manipulation is basic to human beings.I’m still seeing the same healthy quantity of luxury watch ads in the front pages of the WSJ as I’ve seen in years past. Demand for an almost completely unnecessary product that tells time. For some reason men (wsj ads are almost exclusively for mens watches) respond to these advertisements which are really classic advertising that could be from the 1930’s. Not going to end anytime soon(not referring to watch demand that could end obviously as a new luxury toy is offered.)

  92. JamesHRH

    In one word or less, NO.For many people, there is value in being made aware of something (being told to want it). Ads will be smaller part of the pie, but they will not die.Go ask your local radio station if the internet is killing them.



  94. kidmercury

    talk to anyone who’s run a successful advertising campaign, there is no question ads work — if the definition of “work” is that putting $X in ad spend generates a multiple of X in revenue.the question is whether or not something works better. the other question is what exactly advertising is. if somethign works better, will we just call it advertising anyway?

  95. andyidsinga

    How about this advertising FG ..does this work? I think it does ๐Ÿ™‚ http://file.vintageadbrowse…..and I think they are your cousins.

  96. Dave W Baldwin

    Day late and entering into middle of debate- @kidmercury:disqus @domainregistry:disqus @auxbuss:disqus @andyidsinga:disqus @benapple:disqus You have to market, it is a matter of your market strategy/design. I think FG is trying to look now/forward and some of the counterpoint is forward/back. If you’re big, you have to establish image/reputation, small, get the word out local. Problem is, we are entering a time of marketing where the geographic walls are coming down. So it is hard for all stores to know what to do.Remember that humans are lazy and want the easy answer quick. What was ‘name recognition/image’ leading the shopper to go to wherever first is going to turn into their mobile telling them where to go (AI) since the mobile will be aware of your likes/dislikes/experience matching that with real time variables.Debating whether someone watches or fast forwards thru a television ad isn’t looking forward.

  97. LE

    While some types of ads stopped working years ago “ADS STOP WORKING YEARS AGO.” is no where close to being correct.And while “INDUSTRY HAVE NO IDEA WHAT ELSE TO DO” is a common and correct theme is some cases you are not right to think that that is the only reason people advertise.There is as only one example an entire industry that relies on response and metrics (coupons, discounts) and is able to track there results. If they weren’t getting results (as opposed to generic non easily trackable “image” ads) they would stop spending the money.There are people right now spending money on adsense and they are able to pay per click and track that they are getting results. That’s advertising, right? I can tell you that if you do a search for “PMP Training” and click on the ads that the advertiser is paying close to $10 for that click. (I know this for a fact.) And these advertisers have been doing this for quite some time now. You are not suggesting that the billions that people are spending with Google is all wasted are you? (Of course some of it is but your statement that advertising is over seems to indicate that the majority is wasted..)



  99. kidmercury

    false. there are tons of successful advertising campaigns. pepsi is one example. that crap sucks but ask their ad execs what happens when they cut ad spending. revenue falls faster. do all the A/B testing adn control for everything and it still holds true. disappointing as it may be for humanity having celebrities endorse your product and plastering your billboard everywhere does generate sales. on the micro level, as any search marketer can tell you, if you run a tight ship regarding tracking ads and google ad spend you’ll be able to see the arbitrage opportunity in real time.



  101. kidmercury

    you can believe these corporations are spending trillions of dollars without measuring it, and that they’re all wrong. i’ve seen too many instances of companies i’ve worked for firsthand and trusted sources who can confirm that advertising, when done properly, works. if you want to believe otherwise, more power to you.





  104. kidmercury

    lol how do you know you have more data than i do? more importantly, though, is that if you have data from bad advertisers who don’t know how to run a good campaign than that does not negate any data from good advertisers who do know how to run good campaigns, or data from industries that are more conducive to advertising than others. but anyway, i see this is a touchy subject for you, so no worries, believe what you prefer and plan accordingly.

  105. JamesHRH

    Ever sold media? You would not say this if you had.Media vendors know what works.

  106. Ben Apple

    WISH FAKE GRIMLOCK COULD USE MORE WORDS TO EXPLAIN HIMSELF…I actually believe (with no real facts to back it up) that the ad spending probably isn’t that effective and they only do it to believe they are staying competitive and to do what everyone else is doing. If Pepsi stops advertising, does everyone else start drinking Coke? Doubtful, but I don’t think they’d ever cut advertising to test that hypothesis.

  107. LE

    @FakeGrimlock:disqus @jameshrh:disqus @kidmercury:disqusI scanned the info in the link and might read it fully later. But on quick inspection it doesn’t address (even if the base assumptions are correct) any longer term benefit of advertising (done right). Or other ulterior motives (example being ADM advertising on “Face the Nation” or one of those Sunday morning shows to gain the attention of decision makers or drive their stock price).To wit:”If Anheuser-Busch, as an illustration, doubled the approximately $550 million the company spend on television, print, radio, outdoor, and Internet advertising in, the firm would likely enjoy a 1 percent increase in net revenues from its current base of $15 billion. In other words, the firm would have spent $1.1 billion to make an incremental $150 million. “So that’s a fine academic assumption relating totally to a digital way of looking at things and not taking into account analog considerations for doing something.By the way John Wanamaker was the one to say that half of his advertising is wasted he just didn’t know which half. So if “2/3 OF ALL ADVERTISING NEGATIVE ROI.” then 1/3 has positive ROI. Consequently the cost of advertising is higher. I don’t think anyone doubts that there is money wasted in advertising. But done right and with the proper budget it hasn’t stopped working.

  108. Ben Apple

    Its like that app on my Coors light where the Rockies turn blue to tell me my beer is cold!







  112. andyidsinga

    Dyaa you’re killing me ๐Ÿ™‚

  113. kidmercury

    i know some folks at pepsi, they cut ad spending one year, even the stupid super bowl ad which they acknowledge as stupid, and coke’s lead above them grew. granted, it could be due to many other factors, but when they studied this as best they could, they concluded advertising and even the stupid super bowl ads are a benefit. an organization like pepsi which sells nothing of value relies extraordinarily on branding — they do not make these decisions casually, and there is a lot of pressure on these people to get all elements of branding right (advertising, right celebrities, right packaging, etc).part of the issue is that advertising is not a precise science. it is a bit like psychology, which some folks also say is complete garbage. personally i think psychology is very much worth studying and very legitimate, but it is not a concrete science like engineering or physics or something like that. guesswork is part of the cost of doing business, but the cost is often worth it if you get the campaigns right.

  114. JamesHRH

    I said ‘ask them if the internet is killing them’. 2.5% decline is hardly ‘blood everywhere’.Oh, and the radio biz JUMPED on digital tech years ago, allowing them to leverage their prized assets (people) by pre-recording & packaging BestOf shows for weekends, etc.I still stick w NO

  115. JamesHRH

    @FakeGrimlock:disqus LE – ads protect market share, they don’t build market share. Anyone who does this type of analysis is missing the point.Go ask Anheuser if they would like to take their ad budget to ZERO.