A Blog Post Written On The Mobile Web

That was a great discussion yesterday. It was everything that makes this blog and community so helpful to me.

Brandon’s comment which got up voted something like 100 times and is now permanently anchored at the top of the thread makes the excellent counterpoint that mobile is just a channel and suggests that desktop/web will remain the dominant UI for many things on the Internet.

I would like to challenge that notion mostly to think out of the box. Could and will mobile be good enough for everything we do on the web?

My gut tells me it will and I am trying to live a mobile first web second existence as much as possible to test that instinct.

I am writing this post in the chrome browser on my Nexus 4. It works fine for writing but as you can see hyperlinking is nearly impossible in typepad’s mobile web app. I would imagine WordPress has a native mobile app that works a lot better.

As Paul Graham says if you work in the startup world you should live in the future and see what is missing. I think that is great advice.


Comments (Archived):

  1. takingpitches

    Yes, eat your own cooking!The WordPress App is terrible. I really want to blog from there, but too frustrating. The related larger point, was like the discussion Brandon and I had about Google yesterday — behavior has moved to mobile faster than many people realize, but the dominant players haven’t adjusted their behaviors as quickly as they should have.I think that leaves a lot of opening for others to step in, perhaps with smaller, but nice sized businesses.

  2. Chris Rechtsteiner

    Given most cloud services support browser only interfaces, mobile only shouldn’t be that big of a stretch for anyone who is already committed in that direction. There are certainly exceptions but as a foundation for being completely mobile a few wise app and platform decisions should do the trick for most use cases.This is not to say there isn’t room for improvement. My point is the basic blocks are there

  3. William Mougayar

    If you think of the thin edge of the wedge metaphor, mobile makes that thin edge even more shiny. The user experience must fit the mobile factor like a glove or it will not work well, like your experience typing a post within the mobile functionality limitations.Imagine if Typepad in its current form came out with mobile first like that, it would have tanked.



  4. Anne Libby

    It has got to get there — for one thing, I think there’s going to be a huge market of mobile-only users at the lower end of the income scale.

  5. William Mougayar

    I write many of my comments on my iPhone using the notepad first then copy paste into Disqus, but I respond to replies via Engagio which is mobile-optimized.If all the key apps were either mobile-optimized or native-mobile, it would definitely be a lot better and move us closer to a greater mobile usage paradigm.

    1. awaldstein

      Mobile usage isn’t the issue. Mobile only is.For me personally, i’m fine to segment my activities around different devices. I like focus products and fine to have workout shoes for the gym and boots for tromping around the city. Two pairs is better than one hybrid.

      1. falicon

        “Two pairs is better than one hybrid”…that is a money quote.

      2. William Mougayar

        But for many kids/teens, I presume it’s been mobile only for a long time.If you only had your iphone for a week, could you make do?

        1. awaldstein

          Don’t buy this.Yup kids live on there phones (as do I) but what percent of those at least in N. America for example, don’t have access to a computer at home, at school, at the library.Other parts of the world maybe but internet cafes are everywhere in Turkey when I was just there.

          1. Anne Libby

            Lots of mobile only people in Africa.

          2. awaldstein

            Like I said. This paradigm is very different in different continents.Makes sense that there is not just one market.

          3. Anne Libby

            Yes. And in different income groups within a continent.

          4. kidmercury

            and that’s where the true mobile revolution will come from.

          5. Anne Libby

            Exactly — and in Woodlawn, East New York, Oakland, Detroit…

          6. Abdallah Al-Hakim

            strongly agree!! they are already ahead on mobile payments and even in some mobile health delivery.

          7. raycote

            My kid is 24 and he is still willing to spends his money in order to maintain a desktop experience, a mac-mini that he connects to a 60″ monitor he calls a TV.I wonder what % of 20-30 year olds still prioritize the money for a desktop experience of some kind?

          8. awaldstein

            laptop as desktop as TV is a broadly used concept.

          9. FAKE GRIMLOCK


        2. JamesHRH

          I agree w Arnold: teens are poor & have an excess of time.

        3. ShanaC


      3. RichardF

        focus products everytime for me too. I have the Kindle app installed on at least three devices but I don’t see any of them dislodging my three year old Kindle as my reading device.

        1. Abdallah Al-Hakim

          interesting to hear that because a friend of mine just told me that his kindle is sitting in a drawer and he reads books on iPad, macbook air or iPhone. I think he likes the syncing aspect between the three devices.



        1. awaldstein

          So to a mobile first and only user, a MacBook 11 Air with tethering to the phone is old school?

          1. FAKE GRIMLOCK


  6. Sebastian Wain

    Another point against web first is about running applications when you are offline. There is a limited support for offline applications on HTML5 and sites do not take into account this situation. If you are far in the mountains or in an airplane (without Internet) you can’t edit your blog.



  7. Jan Schultink

    I am pondering a PowerPoint killer app and am wondering: tablet first?- Pro: I need the touch interface- Con: corporate installed base, integration with workflow

    1. falicon

      Con: working with external sources (ie. copy/paste and import/export features completely suck in the mobile world right now — how do you easily get images into your presentations?).

      1. Jan Schultink


  8. Sander Bijlstra

    Mobile first, or wireless first ; http://gigaom.com/2012/11/2… the Japanese are often living one step ahead of us, and they are going for wireless only. They forego some heavier products like netflix for the moment, but netflix e.a. might have to adjust their products to reach this demographic.One intermediairy is : https://yourkarma.com/ a social hotspotMobile must become good enough for what we do, because when I am at home I will look at a tablet but will not want to open my laptop. So if it’s not available mobile, it only exists in daytime.Soundcloud and Tumblr have a proper mix for now; subscribe, adjust and collect on the web, but consume mobile. Ahead they must find ways to make the more intensive tasks work better on mobile

  9. Mark Birch

    Mobile will certainly be able to offer capabilities to be more than simply consumption devices. Some apps are making that abundantly clear like the latest Tumblr app which I have used and is pretty solid. That being said, the enterprise is still constrained by security concerns, legacy technologies, and the input context where apps require extensive manipulation or data input that is simply too wonky to do well on mobile devices today. I believe that will all change, but that is still a few years out at least.

  10. falicon

    This is a trap. Radio is going to kill print. TV is going to kill radio. Web is going to kill tv. Mobile is going to kill web. Don’t fall into it. ‘Everything’ is too strong a word here.Most experiences will be available on mobile…not all will be great and we will discover over time what those are.I suspect the majority of quick and low-quality consumption will be mobile…because it’s quick, easy, and available. It’s the digital equiv. of the convenience store – and we will buy the digital slurppies and burritos like crazy no matter how big our bellies get from it.Creation is another beast…it’s going to be difficult and a longer battle on that front. It’s just not an enjoyable experience at all yet for any creation use case beyond pictures, voice, and check-ins (explains the reasons there have been two big winners so far).When I look into the future, I’m most in line with Jack Dorsey’s vision…that is that the devices are more and more invisibile and just simply get out of the way. So I think to get to that vision, you don’t spend your time thinking about how can I work in a mobile solution but more ‘how can I use the technology to actually get all the hardware out of the way?’

    1. RichardF

      the internet is killing print πŸ˜‰

      1. awaldstein

        The internet has made a the specialty print niche a solid business though.

        1. RichardF

          I agree Arnold, we have a small run specialty printer in the building next to our office and he is thriving however the larger printers (at least the ones in our area) are dropping like flies.

          1. awaldstein

            A world of niches, a global economy of local businesses is a dream worth working towards.BTW..how are businesses like Taschen books doing?

          2. RichardF

            I don’t know Arnold but they are great for Christmas presents!

        2. ShanaC

          Not in a way you can make money on the creative side. I know a comic book writer – cash flow is very uneven, and kickstarter only barely helps, especially because the basis of consumptive print is someone else takes on the marketing and distribution. I hate to say it, but these are things not everyone can do. Multichannel digital also makes it harder and more expensive to get to a large audience. I expect the rise and growth of bigger conglomerates just to handle all the small individuals who just can’t figure out managing small supply.

          1. Dave Pinsen

            Maybe it’s another winner-take-all situation? Like syndication in radio: every market used to have is own local talk radio personalities, and now the most successful ones broadcast in all the major markets at the same time.

          2. ShanaC

            i’m not sure. the market has yet to shake out. Besides which, for a lot of these niches, ity is about how various forms of entertainment start to leech into each other (see, marvel becoming a movie studio who licences to Activision)

          3. Dave Pinsen

            In the case of Marvel, I think that was more of a business decision — Marvel’s content had been used in movies for years, so Marvel decided that by becoming a movie studio it could capture a bigger slice of the profits than by licensing its content to studios. Maybe they will eventually do the same with video games. Or maybe they figured that video game companies like Activision were harder to replace than movie studios.

          4. CJ

            Digital allows you to make more money with a smaller audience though as you can keep more money in your pocket. That’s a good tradeoff in my opinion. You no longer need to be huge, micro communities with a high degree of involvement and passion can make you just as successful or more.

          5. ShanaC

            true, sort ofeither you have to have audience built in (otherwise it would make no sense to hire old reporters as bloggers) or a significant marketing cost in terms of time, energy, and potentially cash.And not everyone is talented at marketing. Actually, few are, especially in the age of digital where you need to count every last bit that passes into the digital wild, alongside having even better creative.

      2. JamesHRH

        yet more people think of themselves as writers today that at any other time in the history of humanity.

        1. awaldstein

          What a great trend IMO.

        2. takingpitches

          Absolutely. Awakening the potential of so many people to communicate, i.e., we are creators and not just consumers of the written word, is perhaps the most amazing thing that has happened over the last two decades.

    2. Brandon Burns

      head nodding all the way.

    3. Dan Kahn

      Voted up from my Samsung Galaxy Big Gulp

      1. ShanaC


    4. ShanaC

      By moving it all to to software and integrating the computing into everyday design. Your fridge as tablet. Surfaces as responsive computing. The body as a sensor.Aka, cyborness is the next step.

      1. falicon

        You are my kind of crazy πŸ˜‰

        1. ShanaC

          That is why I get along here. I’m a realist futurist. πŸ™‚

          1. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

            I have read someone calling AVC an asylum …:-)edit: gawked it … it was JLM on 2012-06-18

    5. ariel seidman

      The Internet is killing print. Classic radio is not very important. TV is undergoing dramatic changes. New mediums do tend to make prior mediums less important overtime and sometimes even kill them.

      1. falicon

        Radio is still very dominant in cars (ie. massive across most of the US if nothing else). It’s actually a *very* cost-efficient secret to branding if you’ve got a company to the ‘branding’ stage…TV was mostly blown up by Cable more so than any other technology (though I do agree that the traditional concept of TV is changing)…but I see no evidence that the general public is buying less TVs (they get used in different ways now, but even the poorest people I know own and use at least one decent TV — and usually more than one).I think new mediums chip away at, or perhaps better define, the utility of old mediums…they just help shape and make more obvious what was always the ‘true value’ of a given medium…sometimes that true value remains a huge and engaged audience, sometimes it turns out to be pretty small after all…

        1. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          1. falicon

            Everything ‘for the people’ is better if controlled ‘by the people’…shitty radio stations are in trouble and it will get worse, but talk and niche radio is still doing fairly well.Also we are *still* a long way off from the ‘everyone’ tipping point…many people are still driving older cars that have CD players and no built-in aux-in options — makes it clunky to use their own music device even if they have one…easier to just turn on the radio…

          2. Aaron Klein

            Not news radio, aka “Someone reading Twitter for you while you’re driving.”

          3. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

            Aaron …you need a private secretary for that not radio πŸ™‚

          4. Aaron Klein

            LOL.I’m just saying, it’s sort of what a radio news anchor is, right?

          5. Donna Brewington White

            Hmm….Twitter.fm. Wonder if there’s a market for that?

          6. Aaron Klein


      2. Techman

        Actually, the internet is not killing print. It is embracing it in a different form. People like me write posts to their websites, and quite frankly everything you do on a computer involves reading. You have to read text on the screen, look for certain UI elements, etc.If you are a Linux junkie, like me, then you know how to read a lot more geeky stuff like the stuff that comes out of terminals.

    6. takingpitches

      the idea of aiming for a solution so great that the technology disappears just fires me up!

    7. fredwilson

      but how long will it take us to get to that vision?

      1. falicon

        Depends on each problem (square is getting close)…but for most it will be much longer than your 3-5 yr window.In that window I think mobile consumption rules, desktop creation is the middle ground, and real world events are still the ‘big’ happenings (100-40-10)…not much diff than we are right now really…

        1. Dave W Baldwin

          Should be able to in about 5 yr (give/tack a few months). The needed improvements in AI along with focal points joining the mobiles (shopping, airport, PC’s) will change the experience. A matter of understanding new revenue streams.The utilization of mobile will be very different in how interface happens.



      1. falicon

        I don’t think radio is in bad shape at all…what are you basing that claim on?Many-to-one, controlling the news, print is in trouble…but customized, personal, print is thriving.TV controlled by ‘the man’ is bleeding…but most people are still watching just as much, if not more, TV than ever.All that is changing is where, and with who, the power sits…I stand by all my examples…

        1. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          1. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          2. falicon

            Not what it used to be, but what is? πŸ˜‰

          3. PhilipSugar

            $17B in revenue. Hmmm…trying to remember what Facebook, Instagram, and Twitters revenues are. You are right. Yes we can say hook up my iPhone and never listen to radio, but fact is as Erik puts it best is people use radio in car as content snacking. Flip between Mike and Mike, and then country station, and all music station in morning….just content snacking, no different than TV in background.

        2. Bibiana Nunes

          People need to stop seeing TV as media and need to start looking at it for what it is: a device. Just like phones, tablets and desktops.When networks realize TV is a screen and not media, then will stop bleeding market share. Microsoft and Apple seem to understand it. Now is the network’s turn.

    9. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

      where will you put the next 2-billion mobile ONLY users needs? they”Have Never seen a desktop and Never will see one as well”.They will have only mobile … they won’t even know there is a world (word) called Desktop. How are you going to serve them?That i think calls for “Mobile first” mantra …

      1. falicon

        They will *mostly* be on the consumption side…and I *do* believe it’s crucial to have an awesome mobile consumption experience.If/when people figure out how to make creation enjoyable on mobile, that will be a big win (we aren’t there yet, not sure if we will be in the next 3-5yrs).Ultimately I still think it all boils down to the problem you are trying to solve (the core of your business). And how truly large your grand vision is (ie. are you *really* trying to reach all the people in the world?)Also – I think you bring up a good point though, the discussion needs to involve the ‘how important’ are these new mobile only users to your vision? Are you really building something that, someone who has never had anything prior to getting a mobile, will know about and actually adopt? That’s likely a massive uphill challenge…you are talking about people that haven’t even experienced Google yet…it’s a long path for them down to any mobile startup idea…

        1. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

          Yes. Kevin. I am not completely apposing your view … but i feel IMHO you are taking the point to ‘mobile will kill desktop’ … NO. Tell me when did you last wrote (hand) a letter to anyone? Does that mean post-office is dead? Post-office will become more of package carriers and not letter carriers anymore. Earlier they used to carry greetings, letter, and package.That is my point … now is the time to think of creating something for desktop with mobile only users in mind as well. Mobile first does not mean you ignore desktop. But don’t be blind folded and create Desktop-only apps….they may not have bigger reach and bigger audience going forward. This applies to developed countries as well … after 5-years will common (no professionals) man buy desktops … even they do… for what? (may be some 5% people will buy for … it is nice to have one) …if everything is available on their mobile?You are mistaken about the adaptability speed of the lads around … I can show young lads who can type faster than we talk on their mobile… Adaptability takes about 3-6-months only…P.S. with little guilt for keeping you awake at odd hours…

          1. falicon

            I actually got a hand written letter from @rohan in the mail today (cause he’s awesome like that!).But for the record…and as JLM would say, I actually agree with you more than you agree with yourself…one of my more buried comments from yesterday -> http://gawk.it/search?searc

          2. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

            That is so nice of @rohan .Yes I agree problem first and then the device and i completely agree people searching for problems with the device first… but what would u do if All the devices are mobile? … that is what i think the future will be ‘All devices are mobile’ …when i say ALL it is going to be 80-90% of the devices in next 3-4 years.

    10. Techman

      I have to disagree on the hardware part. The hardware I use is very important for when I write posts, for example. I can’t stand typing on phones, so I am bounded to my keyboard for producing the fine work that I make :).I also am a power user on the PC, so phone and tablet hardware simply won’t cut it.

      1. falicon

        That was actually my point…right now the hardware is still crucial…but the long term goal, at least for everything I do, is to make it invisible.It should be an enjoyable experience to type my post out on a desktop, dictate it into a mobile phone or tablet, or even just have it seemlessly pulled out of my brain as I sleep/dream about it…we’ve got a long way to go, and the challenges are big…but that’s the exciting part about looking towards the future πŸ˜‰

        1. Techman

          Oh, it was? I guess I didn’t get it after the first read. However, I still think it’s nice to show off that super mega-powerful desktop, that is if you have one. Such a desktop would probably be like a Leopard Extreme from System76.

    11. Michael Brill

      Check-ins are easy because there is structured support for it in apps. But there are thousands of everyday interactions that don’t have this support in a mobile environment (yet) and so we’re forced to use the same tools we’d use for wordy discourse like this. That makes creation difficult.BUT the vast majority of what people need to communicate on a daily basis has a narrow vocabulary requirement. So what if we put more structure into mobile communications such that we could broadly express intent with a few swipes and presses instead of banging out lengthy sentences? I think it’s quite likely that mobile is shortly going to leapfrog the web in creation capability.

      1. falicon

        I think this could be interesting…if nothing else, it could be a fun game to get started with (ie. build sentences/messages with no typing and just pre-selected words that you tap)…I don’t know if it would be mainstream and/or a big win…but def. worth you exploring a bit more if it’s the sort of thing that interests you…

        1. Michael Brill

          Clearly there’s a big difference between free-form and structured communication… I’m really talking about the latter. I don’t think the answer lies in forcing structure into a free-form model (e.g., “a T9 for sentences”), but rather it’s getting mobile users into a structured model as fluidly as possible. Today that structure is only possible with apps, which is really not a workable model anymore. Hopefully that will be changing soon….

    12. Kirsten Lambertsen

      Love this.

      1. falicon

        Thanks…btw – going to be in the city on Wed. afternoon (will email you to see if you might be around) πŸ˜‰

    13. Jim Ritchie

      “When I look into the future, I’m most in line with Jack Dorsey’s vision…that is that the devices are more and more invisibile and just simply get out of the way.” Agreed, but this is not a new concept. I spent most of my career in the real-time, embedded computing world (www.windriver.com) and we have been talking and doing this for years. @ShanaC:disqus mentions a smart fridge and these have been available in some form for at least 10 years. This one looks kind of cool http://www.yankodesign.com/

      1. ShanaC

        most smart fridges suck though.

      2. falicon

        Yes! I don’t think the vision or path is unique to Dorsey…I just think he’s the most recent one to take up the torch on this front…great stuff!

    14. CJ

      The 7in tablet is better for creation. Do we consider that mobile? I can actually do all of my writing on it, not as good as the desktop but much better than a ten inch or phone.

      1. falicon

        I do consider it more mobile than not…and I agree that creation on a table is *better*…but still not what I would call enjoyable…

    15. CJ

      “When I look into the future, I’m most in line with Jack Dorsey’s vision…that is that the devices are more and more invisibile and just simply get out of the way.” – Isn’t that Modal computing? The dream that Steve Jobs was driving towards?

      1. falicon

        I think a lot of ‘visionaries’ have been driving towards getting the hardware out of the way as much as possible…

  11. kenberger

    “could and will”, meaning future. Today, I’d say the software combined with the latest chipsets are already almost there– for many but certainly not all tasks you might do.Picking the right tool for the job helps. For example, for doing anything with Disqus (such as commenting on avc), I find the native browser much better than Chrome.

  12. kidmercury

    one other point that was raised in yesterday’s conversation that i’m starting to appreciate more and more is that maybe mobile vs web is a false dichotomy. i think there are just contexts and devices. certain devices, like the galaxy camera, have a completely different interface, relevant apps, and context than devices like a laptop or a kindle. this is one of the reasons i don’t like businesses that don’t have a clear target customer in mind, but rather just target “everyone” — or some incredibly vague demographic, like “internet users” or “people who read the news”. i think the future is understanding highly specific cases and giving them the device, social network, and digital store they need to accomplish their goals.

    1. Emily Merkle

      Really well-said, Kid. I had the same thoughts after reading Fred’s “mobile first” credo. You go where the desired eyeballs are, period.

    2. Brandon Burns


    3. JamesHRH

      I agree. The early days of building a monster service that has global usage (GOOG, FB) are ending. Instagram & Twit, while huge, are small comparatively. New ideas that arrive from here will be even smaller.IMHO – VCs are going to figure out that HW provides two key things: specific UX advantages & barrier to entry.While the iPad will never be as dominant as it was 2 years ago, it will alsways be the Coke of the tablet market. That’s a forever business.I expect there will be 3 major handheld / phone categories eventually: smart phone (does everything OK), super high fidelity audio / video conferencing phone; super awesome IRW navigation phone (maybe built by square ;-).

      1. falicon

        It’s *way* too early to say that ‘the days of building a monster service are ending’…all that is over are the opportunities to build the ‘obvious’ ones mapped directly from the current pulse of society.I have *no doubt* that we will continue to see world changing, globally reaching, monster services born at least every couple of years throughout the rest of our lifetime…I just have no idea what most of them will actually be (yet) πŸ˜‰

        1. markslater

          absolutely agree.

        2. awaldstein

          I think we need more platforms actually.Financial infrastructure for small niche biz. Platforms for customer acquisiton, cross vendor aggregation of products from merchants. Endless needs arise when you imagine an economy of small apps/businesses/products.

        3. JamesHRH

          OK, name the monster PC based, B2C apps that came after Office…….the ones that were not ‘obvious’.A major new trend has a very limited number of obvious home runs that will not be replicated in size. Someone commented recently that FB was ‘just a rolodex’, which is true in the same way that ‘Excel is just a spreadsheet’ or that ‘Skype is just free conferencing’.When you create the category & it is very early in the adoption cycle, its yours for as long as you don’t screw it up.If there is a broad, obvious opportunity on the web today, it is powered by tablets or phones.

          1. falicon

            After office…Netscape (Chrome/IE/Safari), Skype, Email (pick your app for it), iTunes…there are probably lots more, but that’s a quick list off the top of my head…And desktop was harder because not everyone actually had a PC (let alone a compatible one)…the web spread the reach quite a bit more…mobile spreads it even further…so the opportunity to reach more, cheaper, and easier continues to grow (and will continue to grow until we hit a point where it’s truly simple for any service to reach and be available to anyone/everyone).If the opportunity continues to grow while at the same time continues to get easier and cheaper…that says to me that more and more companies will figure out a way to take advantage of it for the better of all society (hence more massive wins as we move forward).

          2. JamesHRH

            My point would be that every app you mentioned is not a PC app (something you bought and loaded onto a PC) but an internet app.Big difference – 2 totally different adoption cycles.If Fred’s thesis is that mobile is the next cycle, iTunes is the first major app. YouTube is likely the 2nd. Maps are 3rd…….what else?

          3. falicon

            I’m old enough to have to admit that I actually did go to the store and buy a copy of Netscape to install on my computer…but I get your point. You are talking more about distribution than about services…mobile is *certainly* lowering the barrier to distribution and that is why I do agree you *have* to pay attention to, and respect, it…

          4. JamesHRH

            Glad you agree – I am being rigid in my definitions, but I think it matters.

          5. ShanaC

            People bought netscape?

        4. takingpitches

          Totally agree. It always looks like big scale innovation is over until it hits you in your face. I remember sitting through the funding crunch of 2000-2001 and thinking that it was too late to launch something as big as Yahoo! Google had launched in 1998-1999, and while it was ultra-cool on launch, it was impossible for me at that time to see how fundamental it would become to the web, and it was completely impossible for me to imagine a FB launching and getting as big as it would at that point. Damn, even when when MSFT invested in FB in 2007 at $15bn valuation, well after it launched, I didn’t see it, thinking I had seen this story happen with Friendster.

          1. falicon

            I’ve been wrong/blind about these things enough times now to know that they will continue occur…and I will continue to miss the obvious-in-hindsight early signs that help to identify them ;-)I met the Redhat people when they were 3 people in a tiny tradeshow booth (had the booth next to them – spent the show debating how bad an idea it was because ‘Linux is free’)…started buying domain names in the early 90s (never thought to pick up generic names or that the names themselves have value)…thought blogging was silly (I could just hack HTML pages together and I already had built many CMS systems that could ‘essentially do the same thing’)…thought Disqus was just simple forum software (I had written dozens of these for my own projects — you can’t possibly build a business around just that)…the list of ‘missed the boat’ opportunities goes on and on for me…and I have no evidence to think it won’t continue…

          2. PhilipSugar

            I am right there with you.

          3. ShanaC

            i’m sure that story is happening to some startup out there. it is always the small ones with the wrong timing that get ahead…

        5. kidmercury

          i replied to this earlier but disqus seems to have eaten it….trying again.the reason i’m a bit bearish on monster services and prefer niche ones instead is because i think the bigger you get the more you become a number crunching, big data machine — and the more you play that game, the more google and amazon can beat you with their network effects advantage. if you stay niche and qualitative, you can build a highly defensible business with fat profit margins.

          1. falicon

            I believe there are a lot of wins there (and I agree, most people would be wise to focus towards that strategy).But I also believe that at least every few years we’ll see one or two evolve from the niche market into one of the new super powers…those will be the companies with true, massive, visions.For me personally – I *always* start with the intent of attacking/owning a niche (blog search for example)…but if I’m completely open and honest, that’s just a starting point/strategy…I’m always interested in and after the bigger challenge of improving the world with the software I build and the way I spend my hours of the day (trying to connect high-quality, relevant, people and conversations to each other to expand on my example).So I basically agree with you…but I would always look to expand my goals and reach once you’ve got control of your initial niche…

          2. EffectiveWebSolutions.info

            Everyone needs to eat!

      2. JLM

        .Not a disagreement but I think there are going to be “suites” of products which create huge brand loyalty because of the manner in which they integrate with each other.iPod, iPhone, iPad, Mac Air, MacNexus 4, Nexus, 7, Nexus 10, ultrabook, desktopGoogle and Android have come out of the box fairly fast and that integration is just beginning. I am amazed at how fast the evolution is happening.Having said that, there is no argument that the suite of Apple products verges on a cult.The final arbiter is going to be the cash register. There may be room for both.Old adage — one lawyer in town starved to death. Second lawyer moved to town and both got rich..

        1. takingpitches

          haha — that’s great. trained as a lawyer, I would add to the old adage “and made everyone else poorer.”

      3. ShanaC

        I still think the kinect (or something similar) will change “the forever business” of computing. We’re in the early days of this internet thing, I can assure you.

      4. EffectiveWebSolutions.info

        Aggregating services will *always* be happening just like aggregating businesses will always be happening.

    4. markslater

      i’ll counter.If you lived through and worked in web 1.0 then you’ll appreciate the phrase “point solution”.What has happened with the smartphone platforms is that it has become a breeding ground for a new generation of these “point solutions”. Uber gets you a cab or a limo – thats all it does and thats all it will ever do. Grubhub gets you food. and keep going……….this category of innovators have decided that they will take a simple task (point) and put it in your pocket. thats NOT a good business model as it taxes the consumer. A toll booth is created in return for questionable functionality. a $5 cab is now $7 so that you can see the car on a map.i believe that this category of apps will not be around that long. When thinking about mobile its important to avoid thinking in POINT. which is very hard to do. The smartphone is a natural breeding ground for point solutions based purely on a User experience.

      1. awaldstein

        So…Replaced by verticalized sector approaches, i.e., local services for Williamsburg or an aggregation of them?

        1. kidmercury

          local services for williamsburg — YES. this is basically the craigslist strategy. highly defensible, nice margins, even with what many regard as a sub-par product.

          1. awaldstein

            Agree…And the most interesting part of this is how poor the web is at targeting neighborhood. Great as a platform, door to door is still the most efficient method of getting those on a block to a party.

          2. Drew Meyers

            Yes – I think that is just because the best way to make anything happen is in person or via 1 to 1 voice discussions. If you’ve committed verbally to something, way harder to back out.

          3. awaldstein

            True…but the social web is by definition a poor targeting instrument.If you have something going in in Green Point and you want to tell the neighborhood what do you do and how do you notify the neighborhood outside of an already established list without spamming all of NYC?

          4. Drew Meyers

            Get them all on a neighborhood email list? You’re right…there is no real solution. Nextdoor is working on this issue I know, never used their site though.

          5. awaldstein

            I’ll check out NextDoor.

        2. ShanaC

          meh, doesn’t scale

          1. awaldstein

            The neighborhood, the area outside our front doors is the largest hole on the web today.Solve this and you solve the local biz customer acquisition issue.Does this scale…for hybrid street/online businesses I would disagree with you.

      2. falicon

        Good thoughts…I think this is the argument as to why long term, the ‘native app’ approach is broken. It is forcing developers to think in terms of point solutions…

        1. ErikSchwartz

          I don’t think this means the native app model is broken. I do think it means that most of these companies to not have enough long term upside to be good vc investments.

          1. falicon

            Fair point.

          2. EffectiveWebSolutions.info

            Blue Oyster Cult – The Marshall Plan just started playing.

      3. ErikSchwartz

        I question whether point solutions are in most cases big businesses.

        1. markslater

          they can easily mask themselves as big businesses. Like UBER – this is not a good business, but they have done a good job of making you feel like its huge.

          1. ErikSchwartz

            I think they have screwed themselves on valuation.

          2. markslater

            dont get me wrong – i love the service for its novelty value – but it does not have the attributes of a lasting business.

          3. ErikSchwartz

            I agree.

          4. takingpitches

            It would seem to me that a POINT solution rolled out in many markets domestically/globally can be a huge business.The nice thing about a Uber, Grubhub, etc. is that they are going into markets that are already very big. That gets them the ability to more easily find a workable revenue model than a Facebook or Foursquare, for example (which I love), but which needs to take a compelling user behavior and graft a revenue model onto it.

          5. ErikSchwartz

            I don’t agree that ΓΌber is in a large market. It is a niche product for a niche audience (an audience that happens to include many vc and angel investors so bully for uber).

          6. markslater

            great comment.thge problem with these points is that they are a slave to one type of business model and therefore inevitably become a tax on the consumer – in a “first do no evil to the consumer” world – they will quickly become threatened by upstarts on price.I know this because we are doing it in boston right now.

          7. takingpitches

            Entry — and the resulting price pressure — are a big issue. I already get mailings from the incumbent black car people with their own apps.The thing that makes me skeptical about Uber is that they are riding the high end of the demand curve. We use black cars at work, and my employer like most are price sensitive and wouldn’t use Uber regularly for that reason.I know they were launching an UberX which was supposed to be more competitive with existing taxi and black car services. If they can deliver a better consumer experience and better prices, that could be compelling. Not sure how that is going though.

          8. ShanaC

            they might drive down the prices of black cars long term

          9. markslater

            they cant win. They add a fee to an existing charge. that wont work for the consumer in the long run.

          10. ShanaC

            well if you are the main dispatcher of taxis in most major cities, then you are at least a medium size public corporation. They then could get into private busses, ect.

        2. Guest

          We pay for convenience all the time. If live in NYC and have ever taken a cab ride rather than wait for the subway late at night it’s probably because you’ve opted to pay $15 instead of $2.25 for the convenience of getting home quicker.

          1. ErikSchwartz

            Solving the problems of people in NYC does not usually map well to the rest of the world.

          2. awaldstein

            I think about this every day with my wine network.

          3. ErikSchwartz

            That is not saying that there is not a great business there. It’s just not a business that will provide a multiple to investors who bought at a valuation in the multiple hundreds of millions of dollars.There is a LOT to be said for small/medium business that throw off a lot of cash.

          4. awaldstein

            Of course…For my two on the side businesses, that’s the goal: http://www.thelocalsip.com and http://www.lulitonix.com. Former is a marketplace with an online spur that is more complex with no analogs to anything being done today. Behavior first/model second. The later is an artisanal raw food biz which can scale through franchise potentially. Model is as old as commerce. Revenue in first week;)I’m self funding both.

          5. LE

            lulitonix.com is totally a product that could get on Shark Tank. I can put you in touch with someone who was funded on that show that I helped with packaging. It’s a no brainer if you can make the cut even if you don’t get funded. The publicity gain is phenomenal.

          6. awaldstein

            Sure…always take an intro. The brains behind this is Lianna. I’m second in command of this ship.

          7. Aaron Klein

            One downside of the sharks if you have to give them options or a royalty just to appear. Still might be worth it for the smoothie biz… πŸ˜‰

          8. awaldstein

            Thanks….Lianna was less enthused by this honestly.We sponsor first Bikram Yoga event tonight. Great community for the business.Love to get some intros in the NY Crossfit community.

          9. raycote

            http://www.thelocalsip.comCan‘t get in the door with a Canadian Postal Code.Too soon or do Canadian(BC) wines simply fall below the cut line of acceptable quality around which to build a local wine-lover community?Sometimes the the community fun is in supporting local producers who are making the best use of local resources/limitations and sharing that journey with local consumers.Love the concept!

          10. awaldstein

            Thanks….In early January, the registration wall will be gone.Love to hear your ideas on this sometime.

          11. JamesHRH

            Uber is Coke of limo services, its a big global business. Don’t know valuation history, but its a $1B biz…..just in the top 100 metro areas alone.

          12. PhilipSugar

            Yes, in that case it is the business not the technology that makes the money. Very quickly technology gets commoditized. For instance look at chips. Used to be that chips were really hard an you could print money. Soon what happens is people don’t care what chip is in their computer, pricing goes way way down.

          13. takingpitches

            Definitely! In the case of Uber, I think it’s more likely a product for the rest of the world outside NYC if they get the price issue right (see above comment). Here, while it can be difficult to get a cab or car at times, 95% I have little issue.

          14. ErikSchwartz

            In most of the US people drive themselves.

          15. takingpitches

            So what? In addition to New York, I have lived in Boston, DC, and San Francisco, and all have had taxi/private car services.

          16. ErikSchwartz

            Yes they have them. But it is not a big business to disrupt. It is a small business with bad margins.How large is the entire black car market in the US? Maybe $1B? Maybe 2? Disrupting Black Cars (or even cabs) is niche as far as transportation is concerned.Disrupt personal cars and you have got something.

          17. takingpitches

            I just saw your comment that folks bought in at hundreds of millions of dollars in valuation. I didn’t know that and understand where you are coming from.

          18. Aaron Klein

            Just to be the contrarian…don’t you think they’re headed towards disrupting all third party driven transportation? They just started with the highest margin segment where people don’t mind paying premiums for better service.

          19. PhilipSugar

            Good to see you back and love this and other comments on this thread.

          20. Donna Brewington White

            Erik is not the one who up-voted this. πŸ™‚

      4. kidmercury

        i think we are actually in agreement — i don’t like most of these apps because they precisely because they are point solutions, or feature businesses, and that google/amazon will eventually squash them with their network effect advantage if the market becomes big enough where they see it as worth pursuing. using uber as an example, i wonder if they are thinking specifically enough about a customer. is it just “anyone who wants a taxi?” if it is niche enough where it is worth connecting like-minded, passionate users who can form their own social network, then i think it warrants an app and a business. i don’t think most of these apps can meet that challenge.

        1. Elie Seidman

          I would like to be able to get a taxi from a mobile phone. But it does not need to be an Uber taxi. In my neighborhood we have 7 or 8 pretty good car services. I’d be happy with any of them and just care about price and speed. Why not a meta service on top of existing cab companies vs creating a technology that is ALSO the cab service?

          1. kidmercury

            i’m a big fan of vertical integration, which i think is in line with your idea of a technology that is also the cab service. i also think a location-based social network can easily incorporate uber is doing, and it is a more natural fit that way.

          2. William Mougayar

            You can do that in the UK. I can’t remember the names, but there were a couple of iPhone apps for that. I was at friends in London and they called us a regular cabbie that showed-up in minutes. Furthermore, we could see his route on his way, from the minute he was dispatched.

          3. Elie Seidman

            That makes a lot more sense to me. Cab companies have always adopted new tech and pretty early at that. Radio dispatch. Cell phones. Now I see the local cab companies with iPad’s in every car. Maybe I’m wrong but this strikes me as an enabling tech vs the brand name of a cab company.

      5. JLM

        .Very good thinking. Well played.I agree more with you than you agree with yourself.But you got the words right first..

      6. Luke Chamberlin

        Great point on taxing the consumer. I’d been trying to articulate this in my head.

      7. ShanaC

        But you can and should use uber and grubhub ins various ways on computers as well. As much as Fred Disagrees with me – ubiquity matters.Before I forget, congrats on the funding (I’m a silent member of the project vrm list)

        1. markslater


      8. raycote

        but don’t Point Solutions hit users where they live:getting that simple focused task done – right here! – right now! – right easy!not withstanding the business and revenue model issues of big vs small.

      9. Donna Brewington White

        Thought-provoking comment, Mark. Are you saying the app will not stick around or not stick around as standalone business?

        1. markslater

          well if web 1 was any indicator – then they will be challenged. But history is not always the best judge of tomorrow.

      10. Dave Pinsen

        “A toll booth is created in return for questionable functionality. a $5 cab is now $7 so that you can see the car on a map.”True.

    5. EffectiveWebSolutions.info

      Yep, I’ve been telling people for months web access is a commodity. No need to see it from the standpoint of what the access method is unless you sell access devices.

    6. fredwilson

      i kind of like the galaxy camera but i already have a good camera on my phone. i don’t think i will buy one.

  13. mikenolan99

    From my signature line: “Typos courtesy of my iPhone”:)

    1. Abdallah Al-Hakim

      good one. I am forgiving of many typing errors when they come from a mobile user. It is usually obvious πŸ™‚

  14. Luke Chamberlin

    “Mobile first” as it was originally coined was a web design philosophy, not a product (or channel, hat tip) strategy.When the mobile web emerged, designers with legacy websites fit those websites into the mobile space by removing and shrinking and hiding features. They compromised their designs.For a while, companies and agencies followed this same approach, *even though they were building products from scratch, and had not inherited any baggage*.What the mobile first advocates say is, if you are going to build a website today, there is no need to use this old style of thinking. You do not have the baggage of a desktop site: you should start by designing the mobile first.When you start by designing the mobile first, you are forced to distil your product into its most essential elements, features and functions. You next step is to “grow” the mobile site up into the desktop space. Your growth is now deliberate and with purpose as you add designs and features, instead of based on necessity.That is the mobile first philosophy as it was originally coined.

  15. Emily Merkle

    E-commerce comes up short on moblie. Even with all of the custom apps out there, most e-commerce is not suited for mobile.

  16. kenberger

    I missed yesterday so will point out something today: from a developer’s point of view, there’s also distinctions re web vs mobile.We use TDD and BDD religiously (Test-driven development and Behavior-driven development). They are very complementary to web development methods. But they are much less aligned with the current mobile development tools and practices out there. It’s simply a bit tougher to do true Agile today, starting with mobile-only rather than web– some people won’t care. But there’s plenty of innovation to be done, and we’re helping to work on it.

  17. RichardF

    never mind blogging, reading and commenting on Disqus is a challenge on mobile

    1. falicon

      +100On the rare occasion that I read comments on mobile, I find myself making a mental note and just responding/engaging when I can get to a ‘real’ keyboard (too many times I’ve lost comments and struggled to bother even trying to respond via mobile now).I have literally read something on my iPad while in bed and it has caused me to get up and go down two flights to the basement just so I could put in a one-to-two sentence reaction…

      1. RichardF

        lol – you must have been passionate about that topic Kevin

      2. LE

        “read something on my iPad while in bed and it has caused me to get up and go down”Yeah it’s interesting how that happens.@disqus this would be an interesting thing to study with fMRI and would gain publicity if the outcome was as I would expect it is. That areas of the brain “light up” during periods of engagement.Would also be helpful to study what happens to the sleepy brain when stimulated like that. I have a feeling that a person ready to fall asleep at the wheel of a car could be stimulated enough to stay alert. Then they can just reverse engineer the process and provide some “in auto device” that duplicates this effect.

        1. Wavelengths

          “Sleepy” generally translates into alpha brainwaves — the spectrum we use when we daydream, re-read a favorite book, or get glassy-eyed on a long road-trip across West Texas.The beta brainwaves are alert, analytical, judging, decision-making.You may be right that there is a suitable stimulator that could work to nudge people back to alertness when they are drifting.On the other hand, I’ve done some great creative thinking on those long road-trips.

      3. ShanaC

        yes. it drives me crazy that semi-mobile (tablets) are a poor way of interacting

      4. Luke Chamberlin

        I do this all the time. Minus the two flights down to the basement…

    2. Cam MacRae

      Too hard basket.

    3. takingpitches

      Absolutely — if something calls out for a mobile app (continuous discussion during the day; need to attend to that discussion during breaks in the course of the day when not at desk), it is disqus!

    4. kidmercury

      what’s your phone? this is why i love the big ass phablets……if something isn’t optimized for mobile, the screen is large enough where the experience is good enough anyway.

      1. RichardF

        Galaxy s2 but I don’t think the Disqus experience is great on my Samsung 10.1 either. Thinking of going down the Nexus 4 route, my wife has the S3 which is also great.

    5. Aaron Klein

      So true. It sucks.

    6. Aaron Klein

      I’ll try and be productive. Imagine if Disqus had awesome mobile apps for iOS and Android, both for phone and tablet screens.If you’re looking at a post on Android or iOS browser, it floats a button that transports you to that comment or thread in the app with a single tap.

      1. RichardF

        from your lips to Disqus’ ears Aaron, we can only hope

    7. fredwilson

      they must fix this. must.

  18. Chris Swan

    You might imagine that WordPress has an app that makes blog editing easy on mobile/tablet, but sadly not.The underlying issue is that cut/paste on glass is painful versus doing the same with a mouse and hotkeys.

    1. fredwilson


  19. EmilSt

    Statistics tells the story…I do 95% of everything on mobile. A year ago it was 90%.Two years ago it was 80%.Few years from now probably it will be 99.9%.Desktop will exist just because there are so many people thatwork from a desk.Can you imagine a child seating on a desk and having fun? No because that’s not natural position.We are stuck in old patterns when the computers where big and we had to put them on a desk.

  20. John Revay

    “That was a great discussion yesterday. It was everything that makes this blog and community so helpful to me”Re: Helpful – And to all of us as well.Thanks for setting these discussion up.

  21. jason wright

    how did you write this blog post (the device, the place)?words 201characters 868 (with spaces 1062)paragraphs 7lines 15

    1. fredwilson

      a coffee shop in cambridge mass on my nexus 4https://foursquare.com/v/vo…

      1. jason wright

        what happened to the S3?

        1. fredwilson

          i change my phones a lot. i may go to the Galaxy Note II next. Android has so many great phone options that i keep trying new ones

  22. Brandon Burns

    Thanks for the shout out. The discussions on AVC are one of the most important parts of my startup education. And they spice up my mornings. :o)My main point is simply to think about your product first. What do I want people to do with my product? Where do they normally engage in that activity? Start with product, and match the design and distribution strategies to what makes sense for the unique thing you’re offering, instead of shoehorning it into somewhere it may or may not succeed.Think like an experience designer and put the user first.

    1. William Mougayar

      But let’s try to answer Fred’s question “Could and will mobile be good enough for everything we do on the web?”

      1. Vinay Pai

        I think there are significant challenges to be solved first, when it comes to input, screen size and such before that happens. I think that will come in the form of some sort of new innovation, be it hardware or UI. Touchscreens and smartphones had existed before, but it wasn’t until Apple rethought the UX from the ground up for a touchscreen interface that it really became a good platform for consuming content on.I think it’ll take something more than someone writing a few apps before they really replace computers as a good platform to create content on, much like it took more than someone writing programs for Windows CE. Maybe a text input device that doesn’t ultimately owe its legacy to the typewriter. Maybe something that allows you to have an apparent screen size larger than the physical device (something like Google glasses, possibly).

      2. Brandon Burns

        Most things? Possibly and probably. Everything? Never.As long as most people go to work with a large-screen machine on their desk, they’ll take advantage of the space. And while tablets may become the de facto machine at work in the future, some things will never change:Designers will always prefer Photoshop on a larger screen.Editors will always prefer Final Cut Pro on a larger screen.Developers will always prefer to code on a larger screen w/ keyboard.Doctors will always prefer to look at xrays on a larger screen.Traders will always prefer to track trends on (multiple!) large screens.Community managers will always prefer TweetDeck on a large screen.The common thread is that these are people who need more space to see how to execute their jobs. As long as their jobs don’t change, their habits won’t either.Shout out to @falicon who also did a good job of explaining the “everything” trap.

        1. JLM

          .There is a real estate sense to the notion that one has an office — whether at home or at work — at which you have the BIG computer installation. In many instances, you want and may have both.It is like a wine connoisseur who knows great wines but desires to draw them from his own cellar (having bought them by the case perhaps) rather than going to the wine store on the way home.I love a particular Santa Margherita pino (could just as easily be a Newton unfiltered claret) which is sold by Sam’s of all places. I can get a bottle any time but I am most happy when I look into the cupboard and see 5 bottles. I have the freedom of having folks over knowing I can provide a good glass to them.I routinely reward myself with gadgets and computer stuff both because I tell myself a little vainglorious fib that I need them to “stay current” but also because I love this stuff.Of course, I was in business before the invention of the PC.As to screens — number and size — big and lots of them..

          1. LE

            I get the sense that young people are more ephemeral with the things that we lusted for when growing up. Because they were born with more and didn’t have to suffer much for what they got to enjoy. Spoiled. Trips. Fancy dinners. Electronic gadgets. Toys – many of them. Not sure about you but I got a 1 gift on my birthday and something for chanukah. And I had to wait until, get this, the “after the christmas sales” when there were “bargains”. Anything else I wanted (that wasn’t educational) I had to work for. And it was fun actually.I can tell all the enjoyment that you get out of the things you have earned, how you get lusty over each word describing the experience. (The car at night that you take out.) That’s a good thing and it’s to bad that some people will never have the experience of having to want for something when they get older and then finally be able to enjoy that “thing”. In rebuttal they will say something like “that’s just a ‘thing’ things are not important “people are what is important”.Having “things” though greatly adds to the ability to attract and enjoy the company of people. I’m reminded of the 80’s older successful man, with a shore house on the water (with a pool) that I used to see while boating in the back bay. All his children and grandchildren were gathered around playing in the sun (and using his boat). Plus their friends. If the man had been living in a row house in a working class neighborhood he’d be lucky to see all that activity once per year.

          2. JLM

            .Not to get all sentimental on you but here is the thing about things.When we both got a single present at the holidays, what we did not get in volume we got in love. A lot of things is not a lot of love.The cooking of that turkey (upside down so the dark meat juices kept the white meat moist, family secret) was just as much joy as the presents.I never, ever knew I was poor because I was wealthy beyond anyone’s imagination in love.Even today I find myself losing the mental aggressiveness to be acquisitive. Don’t get me wrong when Costco announced a 7% special dividend, I was long COST before the ex-dividend date while selling a covered call option out 6 months. I still like the game.I will drive by a high rise I built 25 years ago and I can see a piece of my heart and soul in that building and if you scratch that memory I can tell you about it.But I have enough stuff. I am down sizing big time. Just because I have rooms I have not been in in six months.I own talismans. Things that remind me of things. I have a WWII vintage combat engineer’s demolition knife that has been used in at least 5 wars. I draw energy by holding it.That ’66 Impala convertible. It is my last hook into my youth and it is a glorious chapter in my life. Much, much cheaper than therapy.There is a comfort to life that is reached I don’t know just when but I know I have reached it. This Christmas I will have all my family (and their girl/boy friends) in Steamboat to ski. All gainfully employed and seemingly happy. A billion dollar experience.Happy Holidays to all..

          3. JLM

            Here is an illustration of that ’66 Impala.

          4. fredwilson

            did you pick up shoberg in that car?

          5. JLM

            .Of course. He got a kick out of it. Good egg. Thx for the intro..

          6. Brandon Burns

            and you’ll always prefer 1 screen for some things, and another screen for others. the more screens we all use, the more that will be true.what’s this santa margherita i should try?

          7. JLM

            .Very nice pinotI love it because it comes from an area of Italy along the coast which has a beautiful old world seaside hotel which is like a Great Gatsby throwback. Beautiful people all.Cinque terre region of Italy..

        2. Wavelengths

          Hotshot neurosurgeon uses Ipad to instantly pull up X-rays, MRIs, etc., to examine and to share with patient. Carries it from room to room.Bigger is not always better, even for the above applications.As a publisher told me back in the olden days, “editors will always want to work with red pens on paper.”

      3. Drew Meyers

        I don’t believe so

    2. kidmercury

      your comment here reminded me of something jeff bezos repeatedly says: start with the desired user experience and work backwards from there.

    3. fredwilson

      great advice

  23. William Mougayar

    “I am trying to live a mobile first web second existence…” Fred, you are a Neomaniac πŸ™‚

  24. aminTorres

    I half agree with Brandom, half agree with the counterpoint, with inclination towards mobile.The desktop and mobile adoption distribution will however be eventually won by mobile when it comes to quantities of user adopting one channel over the other.Bottom line is that desktop will remain most relevant for publishing…. And mobile will overtake the other end of the equation, which is consumption of the content created on desktops.

  25. taylorwc

    Brandon’s comment may have gotten in backwards. Desktop web will be a channel and mobile will be the dominant UI, with the caveat that certain use cases are unlikely to realize that evolution (coding, typing-intensive content creation, ?). We’re already far down the path to that end state.Visual proof:http://www.slideshare.net/k……The embedded base inflection happens mid-next year, the sales volume inflection point is old news (4Q10!). Think about it; how many times do you access something on the web (or app) during the day, and what’s the share of mobile device vs. desktop?

    1. ShanaC

      Nope – it isn’t an either/or. It is an and/or. Typing isn’t going to go away. or at least communicating to others via a text interface.

  26. Dave W Baldwin

    Keep pushing Fred. I’m sure the arguments among the readers will center on everything one, nothing the other and/or one killing the other. Simply, the more done to simplify/improve delivery via mobile will accelerate the use thereof. The expansion of vehicles that offer ease/comfort to the wider base which is happening (older age vision) will deliver an explosion of opportunity 2014-16 that will have everyone laughing about 2011-13.

  27. Ji Eun (Jamie) Lee

    Every morning I read your posts on the iPhone email client. So the content both created and consumed on mobile. BUT I waited until I got to a desktop iMac to post this comment. So engagement on Web.

  28. sfopeter

    It’s mobile different, not mobile or web first. These are in fact different channels, and you have to evaluate each one on its own merits, with its own use cases.It is retarded for example that apps like HotelTonight, WillCall, and even Uber don’t have web sites. HotelTonight should work in off of a computer, I have wifi on a plane all day now. Why doesn’t Uber let me schedule a limo to the airport in advance, I have stopped using them because it is not reliable that I can get a limo when I actually need one, even at JFK. That use case is web, not mobile.In the travel segment, you would think that mobile first would win, but look at HipMunk and AirBnB. They completely nailed it, and it took them forever to make mobile apps.

    1. ShanaC

      exactly- I call this the ubiquitous principle

  29. Semil Shah

    The WordPress mobile apps are horrible, and their web presence is showing signs of decay. The field is wide open, but for linking to work on mobile blogging, one would need better split screen. After seeing what’s been happening to Quora, I still believe most content will be generated via traditional keyboard on web, but consumed in mobile.

  30. ThomasRankin

    Concur completely. Attempting a mobile only existence on my Nexus 7 and life is good. As soon as I can whip of an excel model via mobile as quickly as I can via web, I’m fully gone.

  31. JLM

    .A bit of this discussion has to do with convergence. Everything coming together in the middle.The fact that Fred used his Nexus 4 rather than his Nexus 7 is worthy of consideration.The Nexus 4 is a “bigger” smartphone beginning to morph toward tablet size. Believe me that when you turn 45 and those eyes begin to weaken just a bit, you will want a smartphone with BIG numbers and display.The Nexus 7 — which I often use to make phone calls using a Bluetooth ear piece or to Skype — is the same trend from the desktop point of departure. One could say that it is the laptop morphing toward the smartphone.I carry my Nexus 7 in my pants pocket routinely.Laptops have become so sleek and light as to almost be “mobile” in their own right. Certainly when I go to a coffee shop, the footprint is no longer a consideration as to what I carry with me.I see all this convergence meeting in the middle.But what will not change is that users will go with what works.If you make it work right, people will use it. Simplicity and accuracy are of paramount importance..

    1. William Mougayar

      “I carry my Nexus 7 in my pants pocket routinely.” Make sure you don’t sit on it by mistake. I have a friend who was carrying it in his backpack on a bike in its case, and the screen shattered & it was a throw-away. I hear they aren’t as sturdy as the iPad’s.

      1. JLM

        .One of the sneaky pleasures of life is to own and wear Bill’s Khakis which I think are made in Charleston.The other brand is Railhead Khakis. Railheads are made by a guy in Houston who is really out of the business but I can still reach him from time to time.The material wears like steel and they will make them to whatever rise you want. I need a longer rise.They are obscenely expensive but they last for a half a century. I have never worn a pair out yet and I have been trying for 25 years.Among the big attractions are huge, deep front pockets. Huge. More than big enough for a Nexus 7. Or a Walther P-38 with an extra clip.[This is the kind of secret I will only tell to my very best friends like you and LE and Freddy and all the AVCers. Remember when I put something in brackets nobody else can read it.].

        1. falicon

          [psst…I love this comment]

        2. Anne Libby

          Ah, but then they’re not actually expensive, are they? (I have a few choice clothing items that can accurately be called mid-century, hand-me-downs from mom that had a high price tag at the time…but are still functional. And some pricey ready to wear items that took trips to the tailor while still practically new: buttons and clasps that pop off, broken zippers…now, that’s expensive.)

        3. ShanaC

          πŸ™‚ Yeah, I buy clothing the same way. Surprisingly, some stores are really good quality despite being total mass retails (eg: Uniqlo sweaters)

        4. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

          +1 for reminding me of something from long past.Is that a common thing for ex-service men to wear pant with very deep pockets? Seriously … I remember seeing (35 years ago) my neighbor an ex-army man wearing the trousers and he will carry his radio in his pocket … don’t under estimate the size of pocket radios from that time … were as big as laptops and thrice the thickness.

    2. LE

      “I carry my Nexus 7 in my pants pocket routinely.”Ipad mini actually fits in the pocket of Levis jeans (but not in LL Bean jeans, at least the size that I wear.)

    3. ShanaC

      Why not a smaller tablet morphing into a smartphone? It is an arbitrary distinction – I would say use is much better at defining

    4. fredwilson

      i am trying to carry my nexus 7 with me all the time but i haven’t gotten there yet

  32. Keith McSpurren

    I try to look at what 12-15 year olds are doing and the habits they are forming wrt technology. They don’t have desktop habits engrained. As such, I don’t see an issue with most software ideas going mobile first…or further, mobile only. Add in the resource suck for getting all the desktops working just so, and it’s an easy decision.

    1. fredwilson


  33. Jeff

    Want to live in the future, just work in the emerging markets. There, millions of people are mobile frist, desktop second, if at all. 600K to 900K internet enabled Android phones are activated every day…most of those are places like Indonesia, Colombia, India and Brazil. It seems to me, we are still very early for Monster size services. Most people are now just getting internet access. In the coming years we should see mobile empowered crowds reshape finance, education and health care.

    1. fredwilson


    2. Ahmet Kara

      Sounds fabulous.

  34. rimalovski

    At the risk of being overly literal here, I think you answered your own question (Could and will mobile be good enough for everything we do on the web?) when you said “…I am trying to live a mobile first web second existence…”. In other words, I think they will continue to complement one another for the same reasons laid out yesterday for the foreseeable future, though I think the PC/web experience will increasingly look more mobile (Apple & Microsoft clearly agree given their latest offerings) and there will be an increasing shift to more “pure” mobile experiences as interfaces evolve and get out of the way.

    1. fredwilson

      that’s certainly the conventional wisdom. but i am thinking it may be wrong. i’m just not sure.

  35. William Mougayar

    Not that semantics don’t matter in this case, but really- you wrote it on a mobile device, but you didn’t use a mobile app. So saying “on the mobile web” is a bit of stretch, no?

  36. Drew Koloski

    Would also be nice if we all weren’t stuck in 2 year contracts so the hardware and screen size could keep up with app development / network improvements closer to real time. (and yes mom, I need a new phone).

  37. Aaron Klein

    Fred, I am with you 100%. I started to comment yesterday from my mobile device. It wasn’t signed in correctly and the mobile web experience sucks for commenting on an iPhone (sorry, Disqus, it’s true).So I didn’t comment at all. By the time I found myself at my computer, I was busy and the moment had passed.Yes, mobile is a channel and it is a user interface framework, but it is more than that. Much, much more.It’s an entire user experience of simplicity and on-the-go computing. And I find that if I can’t do it easily on a mobile device, I’m starting to not do it at all.I say this as an entrepreneur who has built web-only to date. And I’m still not quite capable of building native apps with my scale, but we’re building beautiful web apps optimized for mobile and that’s a good start.Make no mistake: this is real. I’ve been living in the future with simpler mobile experiences for the last 60 days and this is a new generation of computing for big, broad markets of users and customers.

    1. panterosa,

      Aaron, I often miss comment because of same reason. On iPhone sucks, and once moment has passed, it’s passed.How hard can it be to fix?

      1. Aaron Klein

        I just threw out an idea below for Richard:”I’ll try and be productive. Imagine if Disqus had awesome mobile apps for iOS and Android, both for phone and tablet screens.”If you’re looking at a post on Android or iOS browser, it floats a button that transports you to that comment or thread in the app with a single tap.”

      2. Abdallah Al-Hakim

        One technique that I have employed is to follow conversation threads in Engagio. This way I can read them later and comment if needed. The one caveat is that you have to catch the conversation in the Engagio dashboard. If you do try it, then let me know

  38. Mark Zohar

    First of all, I’m not sure what is the consensus view or definition of “mobile”. Clearly, it includes smartphones and web-enabled feature phones. I also assume it includes tablets of the 7″ and 10″ variety. What about a Surface or iPad tablet with a bluetooth keyboard? It’s portable and mobile but can easily replicate a desktop or Web experience.Second, I doubt that more than 5% of the responses to this post are from mobile devices, so we’re clearly not there yet. Nor do I believe that mobile in and of itself is good enough for everything. However, I do believe that mobile will become the primary communications “hub” that connects seamlessly to other sensors, displays and input/output devices to allow mobile to be good enough for everything. A very early example of this is AirPlay, which allows mobile content (currently read only, but soon read and write) to diffuse onto larger HD devices.In this context, mobile is the nucleus and the Web and other displays and sensors are the electrons that gather their energy from this central nuclear force.

    1. fredwilson

      to me mobile means with me all the time. i carry my nexus 7 a lot but not all the time. my wife’s galaxy note 2 phablet is pretty sweet.

      1. Carl Rahn Griffith

        A ‘phablet’? Lol, cool. Never heard that before.Or ‘phab’ as we cool kids would say! πŸ™‚

  39. Guesty McGuesterson

    One thing I appreciate about stuff written on mobile devices is the authors tend to keep it short. I think this is also one reason I tend to read your posts the morning they’re written, rather than β€œoh god, a large block of uninterrupted text” and maybe possibly getting around to it later.http://www.theonion.com/art

  40. Guest


  41. Kirsten Lambertsen

    I think some people are getting caught up in the argument that somehow we’ll stop using our desktops, just like some people used to feel they had to argue against the idea that we’d stop watching television (because of the Internet). It’s a misplaced argument.The point is that mobile is here and is going to figure more and more in our futures. Do we as businesses want to be ready for that future, or catching up to it?The takeaway I saw yesterday was very succinct. Design for mobile. It can start with something as simple as a responsive layout. A native app is not always required. Mobile design, its necessary elegance and simplicity, has raised the bar for desk/laptop design.And don’t forget the killer mobile app: email. Tumblr won my heart when it enabled me to post to my blog via email. Every time I take a picture with my cell phone camera, I now post it to my Tumblr blog, via email, in seconds. Brilliant. How many ways could we enable our online app features/functionalities with email (and therefore, mobile, and thus not requiring an app download)?I’m in the camp of design for mobile. Your desk/laptop experience will be all the better for it.

    1. RichardF

      love that email to blog facility. Blogger have been doing it for a while, such an easy way to upload a photo

      1. Kirsten Lambertsen

        Yup – I can do the entire blog post via email. What else do I need besides a picture and the accompanying text? Nada πŸ™‚ Email covers it. I don’t have to download an app (which I hate doing, btw) and I don’t have a learning curve.It’s funny how Blogger gets lost in the conversation, even tho it’s got much more reach than Tumblr.

    2. fredwilson

      true. but i find myself avoiding my laptop. i will sit right next to it and use my tablet or phone instead. i think laptop means “work” to me and i want to avoid that.

      1. Kirsten Lambertsen

        That’s a really interesting point. Could it be because most of the site UI/UX design for mobile is so much more inviting (by necessity) than most of it is for desk/laptop? (versus it just being the form factor of the device?)

  42. Emil Sotirov

    Coming late to this discussion… a possible way ahead is to start having all sorts of peripherals (large screens, keyboards, mice, etc)… rethought in some better form factor – ready to be dispersed in all our daily environments (including cars, public transport, cafes, etc)… and ready to be used in conjunction with our personal mobile computing devices. We do many things on the go… but do not carry our own chairs, desks, tables, etc…

  43. raheeln

    touchpoint works better for me as an online metaphor than channel because i just seem to be picking up my one of three tablets where i last left them (work, home, jacket pocket, bedroom).to me this makes sense in a post-pc environment as different tablets settle in to perform different jobs (i have different apps on different tablets – incl my mobile). perhaps we should now begin to optimise based on journey w/ numerous tablet/mobile… touchpoints.Sent from my Bed

  44. Merten Wulfert

    The premise underlying most arguments is that web and mobile are still going to be two different things in the future. I think it’s rather likely that web and mobile (and new platforms such as Google Glass) will converge even further, making a clear-cut distinction very hard.But as long as speech-to-text doesn’t take off, the device with a hardware keyboard will always rule written content creation.

  45. EffectiveWebSolutions.info

    I’m glad to see you’ve come to your senses Fred. I’ve been posting for months to help you see these things.

    1. fredwilson

      i am slow at times

  46. Elie Seidman

    Mobile has become an incredibly loaded term and means a lot of different things, not all of them accurate, in one word. To remove the biasing that happens with language (think of the difference in response between Estate Tax and Death Tax) in my own thinking about the problem I have resorted to descriptive language instead of catch-alls:- small, medium, large screen- native app vs browser abstraction- keyboard (real keys) vs touchAt the end of the day, the biggest constraint are our eyes and hands – their size etc. There are real limitations to the lack of keyboard and to having a small screen. I think there will always be user scenarios where bigger screens, a mouse, and keyboard are the best interaction model and as users we’ll wait until we’re in front of that device to use them. Native apps offer a lot of power but something the extra power is not really needed as much as the keyboard or big screen. Net net, there is no one size fits all answer.

  47. Josh Fraser

    The future I see is a world where my phone is my laptop. I walk into my office and my phone connects over something like bluetooth to my monitor, keyboard and mouse. Mobile devices already have enough computing power for just about everything I need & that is only increasing. The CPU in my iPhone is better than the laptop I had 5 years ago. In a couple years it won’t make sense to have both a phone and a laptop/desktop anymore. A laptop is just a bulky phone that can’t make phone calls. The part about mobile that sucks most is the interface. I don’t want to stare at a tiny screen. I don’t want to type on a piece of glass. The UI will have to adapt based on the screen site, but we already have everything else we need. Mobile = Desktop. Sometimes I’ll be connected to a screen/keyboard. Sometimes I won’t be.

    1. fredwilson

      nice vision. build it!!!!!!

    2. jason wright

      think Thinkpad Ultrabase…for mobile phones and tablets.the future is already here, but not yet morphed.

  48. EffectiveWebSolutions.info

    I’m not seeing any responses from the Gadgeteer (Fred). He must be on his GSXR1000 enjoying the wind!

    1. fredwilson

      i was in two all day sessions at the MIT Media Lab yesterday and today. that’s why i couldn’t engage in either discussion in real time

    2. Carl Rahn Griffith

      @fredwilson:disqus’s avatar still says mod, not rocker! πŸ˜‰

  49. jason wright

    the bridge between the two, web and mobile, is the new real estate opportunity.

    1. fredwilson

      good call

  50. William Carleton

    I use Typepad’s mobile web app, too, Fred, and agree it is hard to hyperlink in that environment. I find I have to save to draft, then go to the web to insert links and fuss with blockquotes and the like. They’ve made it easy to upload pictures, though. Anyway, just expressing some Typepad solidarity with you, I guess!

  51. kevinmarks

    The reason mobile matters so much is that the web works on it. This is the huge Webkit achievement that Apple built and shared. Build your app on the mobile web, then consider what would be worth the huge investment to make native and on which mobile platforms.

  52. Richard


  53. jason wright

    the layer cake

  54. Allen Lau

    Could and will mobile be good enough for everything we do on the web?The answer is definitely yes (unless you are using AutoCAD or something along that line).I am sharing some of the numbers we see on Wattpad. Even for long form content creation, the world is increasingly shifting towards mobile.http://www.makingthingsouto

    1. fredwilson

      thanks for sharing this allen

      1. takingpitches

        This is an amazing stat Allen. I hope more people see this. The fact that in 4-5 months you are seeing 25% of your long-form uploads coming from mobile is telling.And the irony of the fact that wattpad has a mobile app that is getting such use and wordpress is peddling its useless crap is also telling.

    2. Kirsten Lambertsen

      this is really interesting. cool of you to share πŸ™‚

    3. Abdallah Al-Hakim

      This is very interesting and surprising. Thanks for sharing. In your post you said that the mobile uploads were not cannabilizing the web upload. Does this mean that these are new users or that users are doing even more uploading but now with two channels?

      1. Allen Lau

        We are still working on the cohort analysis. Based on what we know, it looks like “same users are uploading more” is the main reason (but we don’t know for sure).

        1. Abdallah Al-Hakim

          Thanks Allen.

  55. Ricardo Buccianti

    I think the future will be hybrid: the main platform will be the mobile device but we can’t live without large monitors and full size keyboards. The mobile device will connect to the large monitor and keyboard via bluetooth and we will have this setup at home and at work. We will be able to finish the day’s work at home from how it was left off. Mobile applications will be able to adjust to the large monitor and give us other options for interacting with them. Web apps will work just as easy. At that point there won’t be any distinction between a mobile app and a web app.



  57. Chris Phenner

    Fred has written previously about ‘the atomic level of…’ For example, the atomic level of Twitter is the tweet. Eric Schmidt used the phrase ‘atomic level of consumption’ in his NYT OpEd piece making a case to the news industry — it’s a great lens.When I think about the atomic level of ‘Mobile First,’ I think about email. In other words, couldn’t every service that becomes an app first appear as an email-based experience? And if you sent carefully-crafted flows that appear first via email, wouldn’t that surface smarter feedback than going ‘native code first?’As I see pre-launch, early-stage firms surface on AngelList (and Beta List), the very first user experience they deliver is the ‘Keep Me Posted’ email capture flow. And that means the very first thing they will do when they launch is send an email.And it all starts from that atomic level of the UE.And you can argue that (say) a music service cannot render secure streams without native code — and I get that — but *think* how much you could learn with a list of a few hundred email-only users and links that point to web or mobile web flows (not an app).And as efficiences are observed (or requested) from user engagement with email, native code can be written with so much more basis for what it should do.Email-First probably sounds boring, but I think it kinda starts there.

  58. Chris Phenner

    One item of administrivia: If you hit AVC.com’s homepage, this post shows ‘0 Comments,’ but if you click into the post’s Permalink’d page, you then see 249 Comments (as of this writing) — perhaps another Typepad mobile web limitation, FYI.

  59. howardlindzon

    I need a cigarette

    1. fredwilson

      tobacco or some other kind?

      1. Carl Rahn Griffith

        Ah ha – I keep hearing about this ‘financial spliff’ – clearly a danger to society!

  60. Trevor Doerksen

    Flurry stats already tell us that desktop/web is already used less than mobile, apps, and TV per day. It is impossible to argue that web/desktop is dominant. Since 2011 web has been dropping in number of hours used per day. TV and mobile more dominant and growing.

    1. Carl Rahn Griffith

      Or maybe – just maybe – our being online is actually less important to us nowadays; we go online increasingly in an ad hoc sense, rather than subsume ourselves to ‘it’ for lengthy periods of time. We have no ‘landing pages’ any longer (eg, portals) – we just flit from one place to another, like bees gathering pollen.Remember the old cartoon about basically reaching the end of the internet? And now what?

  61. Carl Rahn Griffith

    Interesting alternative viewpoint – from Brad Feld no less – I agree…http://gigaom.com/mobile/is

    1. fredwilson

      Yup. We are not seeing the near term the same way

  62. Modernist

    when humans communicate with each other, do we pass notes to each other or do we have conversations? speech recognition is the UI future, enabled by advances in AI. disclosure: long $NUAN

  63. Steven Kane

    aren’t we past the point where there is any real distinction between mobile and web? other than screen size? mobile devices use broadband/wifi and cel networks. web devices only use broadband/wifi? your item about writing a post on your nexus4 only makes sense in context of screen size…

  64. temafrank

    Two things are needed before mobile takes over everything:1. much better voice recognition systems than currently exist (combined with automated transcription)2. Holographic screensThose will happen eventually, and then the desktop will be doomed.

  65. Paolo

    I personally think you all got distracted by Everyme founder (very effective) blog title that started this whole debate, but didn’t analyze the actual problem.They tried to create what? A social network, like we don’t have enough. A social network that was the copy of Path, which is the copy of Facebook (yes, with the limit of 150 friends: great differentiation), just on mobile, like Facebook doesn’t have mobile, like Path is being successful. Are you trying to tell me that they failed to get adoption, engagement and virality because of mobile first? Are you trying to tell me that if they built it on the web, they would have had much more success?What matters is only the same damn thing: the right product solving a real problem at the right time.There will be products that will perform better on the web, some that will perform much better on mobile. It depends on the product and use case.

  66. Sean Hull

    It seems lines between desktop & mobile are blurring. When I first saw an ipad mini recently, I thought – Is this a phone? It does everything a phone does, but a touch bigger. Is it mobile? Is a standard size ipad with a keyboard case, still a mobile device? For my money it makes a mighty good stand in for a laptop.Desktop, laptop, mobile. Perhaps aging distinctions.

  67. Judd Morgenstern

    Think there needs to be greater distinction when discussing native mobile apps (mapps) or mobile-web (mweb). To the *normal* end-user, all that matters is experience. If you can deliver a great interface, interaction, content and experience tailored to the context of using mobile (on-the-go, discontinuous usage, likely location-aware, utilizes camera, etc) the enabling tech shouldn’t matter.I think startups will start trading native app development for mobile-web (*except games perhaps): interaction might not be as rich, but gain ability to rapidly develop, deploy, iterate, transition to desktop, plus avoid gatekeepers.

  68. awaldstein

    Context is indeed everything.Well said.

  69. William Mougayar

    I maka mistokes even typin on the mcabk ar.

  70. RichardF

    you given swype a go Charlie?

  71. fredwilson

    i love the typos Charlie

  72. awaldstein

    The less separation between my thoughts and expressing them is what makes me feel like a decent communicator when infrequently, it does happen.The more I need to stylize by thinking by the restrictions of the format or input device, the less free I am.I love Twitter. If all thoughts had to be in 140 characters life would indeed be a bore.

  73. jason wright

    butter fingers

  74. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

    +1nedthere is integrity and humor in every leader.

  75. Tom Labus

    Yes, there is something about Twitter that releases your creative side or snide side depending on the comment.

  76. awaldstein

    If the world was all exclamation points and no semi colons, ambiguity and uncertainty would loose expression.The truth is always grey.

  77. awaldstein

    Thnx…I’m not a believer that that will become the pervasive paradigm for expression.Posts breed more posts and reverberate as utterances through the other nets like Twitter. I see this as natural.Could be wrong of course, and I see Twitter making their threads more conversations by design it seems, but to me Twitter is a one to many, broadcast model that stretches then fizzles.

  78. Fernando Gutierrez

    Try SwiftKey 3, it’s amazing. It’s predictions are spot on. Also, it lets you use several languages withouht having to switch anything.

  79. RichardF

    I’m a Swype devotee Fernando but I’ll give it a go!