The Mobile Web

A friend sent me an email last night suggesting that now is the time to start building mobile web applications and services so that we can bring the web we know and love to the mobile world.

I am curious what this community thinks about the following:

1) would a mobile web that is open and interactive like the web be preferable to the app ecosystem we now have on mobile? And if so, why?

2) what technologies, apps, and services do we need to get there?

3) are there any obvious investments that one should make to help jump start the mobile web?

I should be clear that this is not (yet) a declaration of intent to make such investments. I have been thinking about and sleeping on my friend’s email since last night and I would like to consult the collective wisdom of this community as I consider his advice.

BTW – I wrote this post in chrome on my nexus 4


Comments (Archived):

  1. jason wright

    how did your friend write his email?

    1. fredwilson

      I have no idea.

  2. Fred Krueger

    What the mobile web needs now is some enabling technology that would allow HTML5 applications to request authentication and (a) access the camera, gyroscope etc (b) store data in a sandboxed area for caching.PhoneGap is a step in the right direction, but ideally this needs to be built into Android and/or iOS.I definitely believe that HTML5/Javascript/ Jquery etc.. will trump Objective C and Java over the medium term — and provide a common programing platform for the entire internet experience, mobile and non-mobile.

  3. Kreigh Williams

    1) I personally would prefer it. I find myself waiting to get to a computer that I can access the web several times because customizing settings, certain tasks can be a pain sometimes or not even possible. However, I don’t think in general people would prefer it. They like things to be as easy as possible and clicking on the twitter app for twitter is as easy as it gets.2) I think the biggest constraint at this point in time is real estate on the screen. I believe it would be tough to do some of the things that I’d like to on the web from a phone (tablet is another situation). If there are technologies that could help use the screen real estate differently that would be a big step in the right direction. The only one that comes to mind right now is projecting a virtual keyboard on a flat surface.3) I don’t know of any

    1. fredwilson

      Turn the phone into a projector. I have to believe folks are working on that. Great idea!

        1. fredwilson

          scott. have you seen that phone in the wild? i want one!!!!

          1. -C

            The idea has been around a while…Since first reading the above, I occasionally wonder why it never took off / commercialised.

  4. Seth Godin

    The challenge that websites faced beginning in 1997 was traffic. An infinite deck of cards, and you only win if people pick the three of diamonds.Viral and social web sites dealt with this problem by creating roach motels. Someone using one inevitably brings in others, and the cycle scales.The app-sphere feels very different. You get lock in with a user who goes to the trouble of downloading (and even paying for) an app. Which is thrilling when it works.But the long tail of the app universe is making this ever more difficult. It’s a bigger hurdle than web surfing, because the app requires a download. And so we see the social thing kick in again, with the biggest winners being sites that basically force people who have social connections to download the app.All a long way of saying that as the app store approaches infinity, the opportunities for real innovation that aren’t straight up social manipulation go down–getting critical mass is too difficult.Real innovation will be more likely to happen if trial is enhanced, which means something (html5?) that works without the hassle and perceived risk (not to mention UI understanding) that apps require.

    1. falicon

      Yes. The dealer still runs the game…

      1. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

        u r being mean 🙂

        1. falicon

          I meant it in relation to the player having to pick the three of diamonds (going off of Seth’s great metaphor).Google and apple are the dealers in both the app and search worlds right now…though twitter and facebook also have nice games of Black Jack going on…they send the cards (traffic) out to the players (the rest of the web/apps), but as a whole they are the house and basically run the game, actually helping make it more enjoyable, for the rest of us…

          1. Kirsten Lambertsen

            Wow. What’s with the Ted Kaczynski avatar? Ha!

          2. falicon

            I like to mix it up from time to time. This is my Jedi look. ;-)Seriously though, disqus wiped my old avatar for some reason, so I just updated it to this one for now…will probably change again soon — tried today actually but the tool kept throwing an error so gave up for now.

          3. Kirsten Lambertsen

            I’ve really got to get my Star Wars on. I keep missing subtext 🙂

          4. raycote

            Google and apple . . . . .as a whole they are the house and basically run the game, actually helping make it more enjoyable, for the rest of usI don’t know about that”helping make it more enjoyable, for the rest of us”maybe in the short run that is true ?In the long run I’m leaning more towards Eben Moglen’s view.That Google, Facebook, Twitter, Apple and the like are all just contemporary versions of the old divide and conquer strategy, just another set of “Man in the Middle Attacks” on modern civilization.They are simply trying to establish centralized algorithmic control over our emergent new network-effect economy for monetization purposes.This arcane old world behaviour undermine the heart and soul, the very mojo of a network based civilization. It undermines the distributive effects of adaptive organic interlay.It undermines the organics of distributive disintermediation, the distributive disintermediation of wealth, the distributive disintermediation of power, the distributive disintermediation of education and the distributive disintermediation of control.It is a “Man in the Middle Attack” on the emergent fabric of modern network based civilization.I simply don’t own enough Google, Facebook, Twitter or Apple share to make that a good trade off at this point!

    2. awaldstein

      I agree but I think about it from a different slant.The app store is an example where distribution and marketing are bifurcated. Getting distribution has now nothing to do with getting found.That split is the picture that your really good description draws for me.

    3. PJSweeney

      Seth – we see HTML5 as a great source of innovation. The biggest change in how we absorb news and information from past generations is what we are all doing now – interacting. Most news is now interactive and user-participatory. I think smart mobile companies will put an app on the iStore and Android, but HTML5 will be embedded in the app function so it can be fungible. The App store requires a week or two to change an app, so having part that can change in real time will drive innovation.

    4. takingpitches

      spot on that so much easier to find and try a website than an app. also easier to forget a website than to dispose of an app. my phone screen is a wasteland of dead apps that i don’t use.

      1. 360mobilesolutions

        mass text messages to group and receive replies using easy to use web based mass texting application.

    5. fredwilson

      Yessss. But what do we need to build to make this a reality?

      1. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

        …. there is a beautiful say about that in my local language about your Yessssss…. if you are a good snake … never bite anyone … but still you show you are a snake by the … sssshhhh ….or else people will think you are a earth worm.

      2. Chandru

        a single-window system – a.k.a a powerful browser – that enables amazing websites with all the web-based features running smoothly on mobile. in essence, we’re talking about a seamlessness between the web experience and the mobile experience.the app ecosystem is definitely not the way forward. none of us likes to have hundreds of apps for the hundreds of websites we follow. even with aggregators (like Flipboard), the number is getting larger. and even if you introduce a powerful browser, someone is going to build another browser quickly.i think the mobile web has a secondary layer of complexity which makes it quite different from the web-approach. we need to think differently. or perhaps, we’re heading in the right direction already. different platforms, different browsers but the same lingo (html5, css3, node.js etc.).

      3. hypermark

        What you need is a hybrid type of system that has a native runtime layer , and a backend abstraction via JSON (or similar). That gives you the best of what mobile native can be combined with the real time agility of the web.Think of it as client-server for mobile native apps. We have built such a solution in the early learning ‘play and learn’ games segment, and it works pretty darn well.

        1. fredwilson

          does anything like that exist as a third party platform for developers?

          1. hypermark

            To my knowledge, no. Happy to show you the system that we’ve built, if interested.p.s., your post, inspired a larger piece that I wrote for GigaOM.Why the mobile web vs. apps debate is a false dichotomy…

          2. fredwilson

            great post!

          3. hypermark

            Thanks for giving it a read, and for the kind words. 🙂


        Fred, you are stuck (it appears) on browsing *in a browser*. That’s done! Now you will browse with a computer. Translating web content, marked up or not, will be the realm of the native application. One of those native applications will be the OS that running on the device.

        1. fredwilson

          i can see browsing in the OS. i cannot see browsing in a third party app other than a browser.


            I think you’ll find that many times you’re using software that has an embedded browser but you just are not aware of it.

        2. Techman

          Some applications can just be a frame of Webkit or something that renders the web app natively without the dependence of a browser. However I would just keep a web browser installed and use that. Besides, why would you install a desktop app that is almost like a frame that takes up space when you can install a web browser that takes up space for itself and cache, and render tons of web applications with it?

      5. Brandon Griggs

        By leveraging HTML5’s current strengths where it makes sense as a base for pushing innovation. We’re tackling this with our platform that makes it easy to build responsive database apps. Mobile workforce apps gain little from native advantages, they just need to be simple and effective for managing data. HTML5 works beautifully with the bonus that it will only be improving.

      6. JamesHRH

        This is a value prop / UX issue. Yes, there are speed & stack issues, but who cares if I don’t have a compelling reason to use your mobile site?Its not going to be a trend. There is not going to be a model that works for everyone.



      8. raycote

        Anything that democratizes the creation of simple custom mobile-web-Apps with transparent access to an open standards-base public data-silo backend would do as a start.A Hypercard like mobile-web-App authoring tool!Sure it would be a laughable toy approach but that is how disruption starts out life, as a widely accessible toy.EDIT:Slow and clumsy can sometimes be a fair trade off for direct creative control. As in early word-processors where you had to embed the control characters for bolding, underlining etc. . . .

      9. raycote

        Maybe like ?Tumblr.web-appswith transparently simple data-driven backend

    6. hypermark

      I’d argue that this is a false dichotomy.While it’s true that the app store economy affords better distribution and monetization logistics than “discovery” goodness, that is less of a damnation of the app store model and more of an indication that discovery of native apps is not much better than discovery of web apps.It all comes down to the on-boarding process — from “try” to “engage” and “buy” to a well codified usage lifecycle. Again, this is a similar variable in the web app universe, right?One can quibble whether Apple’s 30% cut is fair, more so than whether a well-managed development, distribution and monetization platform targeting hundreds of millions of users is a good thing.The bigger dilemma is that, once upon a time, developers assumed that the app store **was”” their customer acquisition strategy. Until proven otherwise, they should now know better, and that changes assumptions about go-to-market, marketing spend, etc.



        1. hypermark

          Fundamentally, I agree with you. God is in the details of your statement “market all over mobile web.”

          1. hypermark

            Actually, that’s Grimlock is in the details. 😉

          2. FAKE GRIMLOCK


        2. fredwilson

          what are the conversion ratios on those links? and how are they trending? i don’t think it is as easy to get someone to make their 150th download as it is to get them to make their 10th download


            Gadgeteer pulls out some hard nose questions asking “How can we start thinking monetization!”.I really like you Fred. ABS!

          2. FAKE GRIMLOCK


    7. ShanaC

      by trial you mean what? and the long tail of the app and social web have the same issues- even if you manipulate the circle, you may not increase MAU

    8. andyidsinga

      …re-discovering all the enormous hassles of standalone apps from the 90s.also, remember those giant bins full of CDs full of apps and games – 10 for a dollar at places like office max. the ‘featured’ page on the app store kindof reminds me of that.

  5. kidmercury

    i love numbered posts. i will respond accordingly:1. as almost always with binary questions, the answer is not one or the other, but BOTH. more specifically, though, i believe native apps will be like bookmarks: if you use something a lot, you’ll go native app. if there was an android app for fredland, i would install it. but i won’t install much else. i think it’s important to understand how the term “mobile” is evolving, and what we really mean by it is touch screen operating systems like android and the ever-diminishing iOS. this world is going to go way beyond a 4″ screen in your pocket which i think is something we should keep in mind.2. android is the sure thing and the epicenter. i think google and other manufactureres of operating systems will do a lot of the heavy lifting here.3. i don’t think so. in terms of mobile investment opportunities in general, i still favor hardware + apps for a highly targeted customer base, though this is not really contingent upon any development in the mobile web.

    1. cvsvansickle

      I like numbering too:1. Let’s look at this from a consumer perspective. Google has created a behavior that has evolved in a way that Google taught us how to search for what we want, when we want it and from whom we want it from. However, Google doesn’t give us the curated content and the specificity we desire. Therefore, I now search for restaurants on yelp, for beauty advice on beauty aggregators, for style on shopstyle and so on. The nature of this behavior is matching the human behavior of curation, right answer, right time, right place and from the right person – what someone would call WOM- the most effective reasoning tool for consumer influence. So, with this said, the more successful native apps, IMO, will not be branded apps, retailer apps, but more blanket apps covering communities of interest and right time, right place content or shopping apps.Passbook is helping to solve this problem. Passbook picked up on the fact that humans will not have a CVS app, a Walmart app, a Target App and so on. Therefore, the aggregation around an area of interest is a viable path.2. The camera, the GPS tools and the like which use such native functionality offer superior use because they validate the reason for a mobile use case. In essence, if the mobile web could plug into the camera, gps and other mobile facilitators of usage, then there may be an epic case for investment in this area.The question is: will Android and Apple occlude this capability? Will the Coke and Pepsi dominate until people realize that other beverages can be very different, but refreshing too?3. Read “Super Sad True Love Story” – we are evolving to the “äppärät, an electronic communication and data-collecting device” that will take the place of phones. This tool will eliminate the need for interfaces and we will project “interfaces” into thin air. I do not align with any political innuendos made in the book – I am merely referencing the apparat…then mobile app vs mobile web will be a moot point.Philosophical and long-winded, my Chinese horoscope sign of a Horse is true, true, true. I talk too much. Eeeeeek!Happy Christmas/Hanukkah, Kwanzacvs

      1. fredwilson

        Great book. I loved it.

      2. ShanaC

        if we get apparats, I will be worried.

      3. internet_commentator13

        I like your consumer-centric approach. It reminded me of a video I watched recently. Roger Mcnamee argues that power is going back to content producer and away from Search. He argues that google has commoditized content and that we’re beginning a new cycle where content comes roaring back with the help of apps and html5 that offer more complete experiences then the web stiched together by Search. I think he’s right. I’ve noticed that I’m leaving web and native apps less and less to go search because they are creating fuller and richer experiences. Here’s a video of him discussing this trend/prediction:

    2. James Ferguson @kWIQly

      0 me too1 OR rather than XOR (ie both is included but not always)10 the embeddability across platforms because of linux is a driver of this11 I think targetted functionailty base rather than user base. I can imagine a world where we share near omnipresent devices – basically a wifi signal is the glue and the hardware iis just a client API

  6. takingpitches

    Not completely binary, because apps that are frequently accessed can be very helpful, but in general, I think a “mobile web” framework is preferable.From a developer perspective, it helps push back against some of the issues that you mentioned in your What Has Changed post re: the difficulties and cost of coding for multiple app platforms.From a user perspective, I like this view of the world called “One Web” from W3C, where I can access the services I consider most important to me personally, for work and for play regardless of which device I have near me at any time:”One Web means making, as far as is reasonable, the same information and services available to users irrespective of the device they are using. However, it does not mean that exactly the same information is available in exactly the same representation across all devices. The context of mobile use, device capability variations, bandwidth issues and mobile network capabilities all affect the representation. Furthermore, some services and information are more suitable for and targeted at particular user contexts.Some services have a primarily mobile appeal (location based services, for example). Some have a primarily mobile appeal but have a complementary desktop aspect (for instance for complex configuration tasks). Still others have a primarily desktop appeal but a complementary mobile aspect (possibly for alerting). Finally there will remain some Web applications that have a primarily desktop appeal (lengthy reference material, rich images, for example).It is likely that application designers and service providers will wish to provide the best possible experience in the context in which their service has the most appeal. However, while services may be most appropriately experienced in one context or another, it is considered best practice to provide as reasonable experience as is possible given device limitations and not to exclude access from any particular class of device, except where this is necessary because of device limitations.”

  7. Ptaco

    Web works because of mouse + real estateMobile works (well) because of gestures + menu buttons (or lack thereof)Until touch and gestures are standardized across OS and browsers, mobile will continue to work better with an app. Faster response + menu richness simply makes it a more delightful experience than a web site. A recovering HTML5 addict, I see old men and babies using iPads and not being frustrated. I don’t see that on mobile web sites and lack the vision to see how anyone can build a business on mobile web UX.

  8. falicon

    What is the mobile web vs. just the web?

    1. kidmercury

      i think it largely boils down to interface……i.e.ifuser comes from mobilesend to mobile.domain.tldelsesend to domain.tldbut it’s a slippery slope because of how fast things are evolving. i think browsers need to do all the changes on their own and markup languages need to evolve to accomodate touch screen operating systems and old school ones — and that they will. that’s why i don’t see much of an issue here; the various institutions will deal with the markup languages and the operating systems will make the browsers.although i hope others reply to your question here, because i think it gets to the heart of fred’s post

      1. Matt A. Myers

        This is why responsive design is currently popular. I do wonder if something more efficient will come to be though.

          1. Matt A. Myers

            Oh, and found a bug at this morning. Did a search, and then changed filter to ‘most relevant’ and it didn’t pass over the search phrase. At least I think that’s what happened. Intuitively it makes sense to pass it through.Just re-tested it: It only doesn’t pass the phrase when using “”‘sEx: “was searching for a phrase” but a “single” word breaks it, too.

          2. falicon

            Oh bummer….will fix it asap. Thanks for pointing it out! Please do let me know if you find any others (can also always email me at [email protected] if you ever need). Thanks!

          3. Matt A. Myers

            “I don’t always use – but when I do, I find bugs.” Just playing. :)More like I knew I wanted to find something I remembered some keywords for on AVC, and thought about using 🙂

          4. falicon

            Nice! I will *def* keep that slogan/catch-phrase in mind when I start to really market … silly me, I was going to go with something more boring along the lines of “Conversations can be life changing. We help you find them.” ;-)But seriously awesome that it creeped into your mind at all…the hope is that it gets installed directly on sites (like it is here on avc) and then that way a user doesn’t have to worry about remember to gawk, they just use the search when and where they are…so in many many ways, I’m really trying to build an invisible brand…so far so good but still a long, fun, journey ahead…

          5. Matt A. Myers

            “Conversations can be life changing. We help you find them — or re-find them.”FTFY ;)I’ve postponed my plans for NYC visit for about 3-4 months from now, though I’d still love to get together when I do. 🙂

          6. falicon

            Yes – def. keep me posted as to when you are in town. Would love to meet you in-person and also get the scoop on what you’ve been thinking about and working on!

          7. Wavelengths

            Awesome! If you’re an entymologist … 🙂

          8. falicon

            That is the specific user I am building for, so … 🙂

          9. Wavelengths

            Hahahah! Way to turn a head-scratcher into a win! :-)I hope, though, that you have special security features for the scorpions, tarantulas, and the fuzzy caterpillars with venom in their feet.

          10. falicon

            Heads up that this should be fixed now…wasn’t correctly escaping the query in the results template…also found the same issue in a few other spots around the template, so fixed them as well.Thanks again for pointing it out!

        1. Trish Fontanilla

          Responsive is so tricky though. Our company has a responsive site and little things like endless scroll are AMAZING on the web, kinda awful on the mobile web since things that are in the top bar on the web, get moved to the bottom of the screen for mobile web. Love and hate responsive. heh

          1. falicon

            Yes – responsive often means ‘jarring’ and ‘confusing’ at the moment…but hey, they get it all squished down into a small screen 😉

          2. Matt A. Myers

            It’s a very frustrating experience still, full of friction. That’s why I’ve been holding off planning for more complex aspects of function for what I’m doing – hoping technology moves along faster than I can get everything else done first. 😉

        2. Elia Freedman

          Rethink, don’t shrink. Responsive design tries to form fit the full web experience for the mobile web experience. Can’t do that. Really need to rethink for the mobile experience.

          1. ShanaC


        3. Abdallah Al-Hakim

          I have noticed many new sites switching to responsive web design such as Mashable, ReadWrite, NextWeb

    2. Julien

      The mobile web as in ‘mobile app’ web is the closed web. The “wisteria” web where someone gets to decide what apps you can use, what technologies they’re built with how they look like. It’s beautiful, but it’s a jail.

      1. falicon

        I read the post to mean that the ‘mobile web’ was something different than the app world…I thought maybe it was meant to be more towards the HTML5 push, but then to me that’s just the regular web (viewed and engaged with on a mobile device)…so that’s why I asked the question as to what differentiates something from being web to being mobile web?Kid’s guess as to interfaces is what I would lean towards as well (in which case, I don’t think it’s really something different or (VC) investible in — it’s more just a shift in engagement, design, and thinking than it is in concrete actions)

      2. jason wright

        the ‘golden cage’ paradox. we imprison ourselves through the things we value.

    3. William Mougayar

      An equally pertinent question:Is the Mobile Web an extension of the Web or does it have a more “independent future” from the Web itself?

      1. James Ferguson @kWIQly

        Interesting – I think we will see a lot of embedded devices exploding on the market in the “Internet of Things” -Embedded functionality is often not Mobile, but mobile technologies are huge enablers. As often as not they live in their own hardware eco-system with interfaces to services that depend on the web and local dedicated physical interfaces (isn’t that just what a smartphone is – apps merely that exploit the generic screen interface in a hardware enabler).So for example a dedicated TV or navigation app has a life on local hardware and will co-exist – but as “cul-de-sacs” rather than walled garden destinations that are easily accessible from the outside, but have a single online point of entry and exit.I can imagine that some very interesting frameworks will develop that createdashboards or portals to the several various aspects of your personal functionality and which will themselves always be part of the Web – wherever they are accessed from (isn’t Dropbox / Drive a sort of early prototype for this)

        1. William Mougayar

          Yes. The smartphone as an “edge” smart device is a big opportunity.

      2. Dorian Dargan

        I think this is a good question.Because interaction/control paradigms (touch screen vs. desktop) are different, it is very possible that the mobile web takes a divergent path.Consumer behavior continues its shift to mobile, and attention to mobile shifts accordingly. At one point, developers may largely ignore desktop web…


        As the *newness* of the devices wears off people will shift to focusing on what it provides instead of them being small. Then people will say “Why is this site different every time I buy a new device. Piece of shit web company!”.That’s what I’ve already wonder and that’s why I say it’s already merging. The new software development tools are telling the story.

      4. Kirsten Lambertsen

        I keep bumping into the idea that designing for the Mobile Web is going to make the Desk Web better. I’m hearing that here and there. So maybe it will be the reverse 🙂

    4. fredwilson

      Well there are some constraints with mobile

      1. falicon

        I guess that is the question I meant…what are the specific constraints you see and are they short term or long term constraints?The constraints I currently see with mobile are:1. Must have strong offline support (because you never know if the mobile user will have online access or not)2. Must have a highly flexible and focused UI/UX (because you never know what size device the user will have)3. Must have limited local environment requirements (because many mobile devices have limited storage, RAM, battery life, processers, etc.)…I think #1 and #2 are long term issues that won’t really go away soon…#3 improves with each new hardware release and is more likely to be a non-factor sooner rather than later.That’s big because it will make pulling down and running enough stuff locally good enough to mostly get around issue #1 (not entirely, but somewhat good enough)…and then we are really just left with issue #2.But honestly we’ve always been stuck with issue #2…it was monitor size to start, then browser versions, and now device sizes, (and soon it will be browser versions on device).BTW – issue #1 is what makes mobile somewhat in conflict with ‘real time’ and ‘social’…it’s very real time on a personal level, but often falls *way short* when trying to do anything social in real time (unless you count old school texting)…the best social use for mobile is in getting me physically to a spot where I can then be social offline…Anyway, are there other constraints you had/have in mind around this that I’m glossing over or currently forgetting about?


          #1 – Briefcase model, all software provides that now, no?.#2 – Been doing that for years. It’s well known among designers that small pieces of data are easier for the user to work with. Hence small windows. Which on mobile (mobile here at AVC) every thing is small. But, in my world mobile (wireless) doesn’t restrict screen size. Except of course if your taking a sceen that too big to carry. LOL.#3 – I’ve dealt with that issue for eMOS and I solved it with what I call “raindrops”. Small apps that can be pulled down from the cloud. I think it’s a non-issue with internet integrated OSes.

    5. ShanaC

      it isn’t it is about point of interaction and modular and responsive ue design



  9. William Mougayar

    Here’s a dream wish:How about ONE common mobile browser for all mobile devices AND ONE common stack to work on. Obviously, it’s a wishful thought. Otherwise, we’ll continue to have a fragmented app market & increased challenges in scaling the web to mobile. Anything that is “enabling” should be free and standardized to the extent possible. 

    1. falicon

      I’m not in favor of one common stack…to me, that would be like limiting a painter to working in only one medium and with only one color. Possible, but less chance of bringing out real passion and emotion.For many of us, even though *most* will never see it, the tech. behind the scenes *is* art…and people are very passionate about it. I’m a fan of that and hope that people continue to find new and interesting ways to explore and express themselves and their passions with tech…

      1. kidmercury

        siding with falicon in this beef……as the internet grows, one size fits all is increasingly less feasible. too many different options and too many different use cases and desires. where there is sufficient demand for interoperability, solutions will emerge — and not necessarily at the expense of stack conformity.

        1. takingpitches

          also, i wouldn’t want to go back to the day when IE was the near-monopoly browser (or anyone else’s browser for that matter). not good for user or developer in terms of continuing innovation…

      2. Matt A. Myers

        As life evolves creatively, expanding into every possible crevice, so will the creativity of artists, entrepreneurs, and programmers alike.

        1. falicon


          1. Matt A. Myers

            This makes me really want to help everyone reach their full creative capabilities. There’s so much unexpressed imagination; I know this solely from my own endless internal creation from combinations of every part of the world I see around me — of course with my own personal preference and biases being applied.

          2. falicon

            I think this is why people/groups continue to work on designing and building new frameworks…it all depends on your true motivations and passions…the ‘why’ behind the ‘what’ (hat tip to and @ccrystle:disqus for recently reminding me of this effort).

      3. William Mougayar

        Some standardizing is good. Too much is not. It’s a constant thug of war between things that work across the board & things that require constant tuning. It’s a maintenance nightmare. The web thrived when standards became available.What are the Mobile Web standards? Are they all extensions of the Web or can we have ones that are only for mobile?

        1. falicon

          I get what you are saying and I agree that standards are ideal.I think that’s a bit different from the stack itself though…I think the stack will and should always continue to evolve…which means those of us focused on working in that realm have to give into the fact that everything we do/build/know today will likely not be good enough tomorrow…it’s daunting and draining at times (those are the days you take a break and get offline), but also insanely motivating and exciting to me at times (those are the days you hack out something really amazing)…

      4. takingpitches

        Love this comment!Programming is art.There is this quote by Steve Jobs that this reminds me of:”When you’re a carpenter making a beautiful chest of drawers, you’re not going to use a piece of plywood on the back, even though it faces the wall and nobody will ever see it. You’ll know it’s there, so you’re going to use a beautiful piece of wood on the back. For you to sleep well at night, the aesthetic, the quality, has to be carried all the way through.”

        1. falicon

          Thanks! It’s fresh on my mind because James Dennis ( ) and I have been talking about this very topic the last couple of days.I’m just starting to dive into his new Brubeck framework (Python based –… ) and I feel like so much of his approach, and the beauty of what he has started, is really about the art of what and why he is trying to do it…

          1. takingpitches

            Very cool – will check out

      5. fredwilson

        I’m with Kevin. Diversity and competition drives innovation

  10. Scott Barnett

    Fred – how long did it take you to write this post on your Nexus 4 vs. typing it on a laptop?I find I am 3-4x slower on my tablet/phone than I am typing. I’m a pretty fast typer. I just move so much faster with a keyboard, I can’t imagine doing anything that requires heavy writing on a tablet. That (and the form factor) are my biggest issues with mobile. You can’t just take web apps and “mobilize” them. Success in mobile will require an entirely new paradigm that I don’t believe exists yet. So maybe that’s the opportunity?

    1. fredwilson

      Not any longer because the bottleneck is my mind and what I want to say not how fast I can type it

      1. falicon

        I often suffer from this bottleneck as well.

      2. Scott Barnett

        That’s interesting… I find when I’m doing some “deep thinking” that I want to write down, that when I’m typing I can create that stream of consciousness much more easily – when I want to write on the tablet, my mind goes faster than I can type, and I miss more stuff…. to each their own….

  11. Julien

    1) No gate keepers! At this point, the app ecosystem is vastly dominated by giant gatekeeper at all levels. Apple and Google decide whether an app may or may not be distributed, how it should be developed, what technologies it should use, and even how it should look like. This is unacceptable if we want a true and open web to succeed and the only way at this point is to create web apps.2) Technologies are there already. We need monetization. The most obvious benefit for app developers (despite the 30% cut from the platform) is the fact that they can easily monetize their apps. On the web, it’s a lot trickier and ad based models are still favored by investors (like you, IIRC) to ‘pay for what you get’ models. The problem is that ad-based system work only at scale, while most apps may actually work well in a relatively small market.

    1. takingpitches

      monetization is a good poins. The folks who have compelling content and could attract eyeballs directly would be rewarded better and thus there would be more inventive to come up with online models in an open mobile web model so they weren’t handing 30% over to the platform owner because the app was the most convenient gateway for their mobile customers.

    2. fredwilson

      So mobile native payments?

      1. Julien

        Maybe… or at least a way for web developers to quickly and easily charge their users, without the hassle of entering credit card data again and again on a tiny screen.There are 2 challenging aspects: UX (less clicks and keystrokes possible) and trust (most people are not yet very confident when paying online… let alone on small devices).

  12. Avi Deitcher

    1. Preferable? No. Equally good? Yes. We need both. You don’t play Doom on the Web, you do it in a desktop app, same for Angry Birds on mobile. But plenty of other applications/usages benefit from Web access. I agree with the posters below. The beauty of the Web is standards for access (universal technology more or less) plus no gatekeepers (universal permission more or less). The app world has its technology and permissiveness gatekeepers.2. A big missing chunk is multitasking, which is a device technology. As long as most mobile devices mean I can do only one thing at once, doing something that involves two apps (e.g. looking up the financials for Apple and Amazon while writing a blog post) is burdensome on mobile, so users will wait for a “real” computer to do them.Open discovery mechanisms. We have multiple search engines for the Web, but the main discovery mechanism for apps is App Store / Marketplace. Call it the third coming of search?Anything that can link offline and online, mobile Web+desktop Web+apps seamlessly is valuable.Unified presence: too many devices, too many communications methods. Apple got better at this with iMessage in iOS5, WhatsApp and Kik are across multiple platforms, but still a long way to go.I can keep going…3. Obvious? If any of this were obvious, you wouldn’t have a very small number of successful investors. What did you write comment on that video a few days ago, about you cannot make money investing in the obvious, or consensus, or something like that?

    1. Dave W Baldwin

      Using mobile so I have to use reply here rather than reply directly…The lines will/are beginning to blur and it comes down to serving customer. Provide tool that serves customer taking care of secondary task while he/she is focusing on primary able to switch back/forth and later deliver updates. This tool would be on any inch and offer multiple method of interface. This is web and places tool upside of apps for it can suggest apps and/or call them up. Right now, the big boys are spending mega dollar on this using a faulty foundation. To their credit, they scare the more innovative due to conception of more mone spent equals greater return. Unfortunately, we are going to endeur another 20-30 months of not getting there, speaking as society as whole.

      1. Avi Deitcher

        Can you elaborate on where the big boys are spending on this using a faulty foundation? Examples, perhaps?

        1. Dave W Baldwin

          Basically using keyword to direct through gate in closed garden where the true analysis of intent is limited. As long as this stays in closed garden, the ability of AI will be limited. Closed garden refers to more than Apple, for the agent being only an app forced to do one, two or three tricks based on app platform of one phone or the other stays AI enhanced (V/T translation limited keyword) instead of moving into realm of approaching autonomous. Spending $100 million here/there to over embellish what it actually does leads to many who try to copycat the lowered bar.

    2. fredwilson

      Yeah. But you have to know what the consensus is so you can avoid it 😉

      1. Avi Deitcher

        Kind of like being contrary to the public markets? If I ever figure that one out, I’ll make a mint…

      2. kidmercury

        that’s why i read business insider. they had an article the other day about how mobile was not the future…..i already was bullish on mobile, but that gave me even more conviction.

      3. ShanaC

        how contrary before you turn crackpot?

  13. tex-el

    semi-related: how is chrome running on the nexus 4? Is it smooth?Cause it’s just plain laggy on my nexus S…

    1. fredwilson

      Fast and smooth

      1. ShanaC

        next phone = nexus 4. How is the battery life?

        1. fredwilson

          sucks. and no LTE. i love the device. but i don’t recommend it for those two reasons.

          1. ShanaC

            oh well, back to the drawing board about an upgrade

  14. Brandon Burns

    “Would a mobile web that is open and interactive like the web be preferable to the app ecosystem we now have on mobile?”Yes. Isn’t the answer obvious? Isn’t open and interactive always preferable to a gated system?The answer was right inside your question.

    1. fredwilson

      I know

  15. OurielOhayon

    Fred i don t think the world is ready at all for a mobile “open” web for many reasons and that has nothing to do with the performance of a mobile app. Sencha showed today you could do a great web app version of facebook but here is the problem1. discovery will be even more a mess because all the spammers will get at work2. monetization is by far not as good as what a 1 click app store can offer3. mobile browsers still behave like browsers with their permanent nav barps: i could have said you wrote it from a mobile browser > no link….

    1. maxpelle

      although there are monetization opportunity thru carrier billing with 1-click or 2-clicks check-out that are very promising

      1. OurielOhayon

        that will never be as streamlined, simpler and familiar as the App store / play store experience…

    2. fredwilson

      Yeah, let’s start by figuring out embedding links on mobile!!!!

      1. Vitomir Jevremovic

        It would be something multi-tab-like, efficient jumping from one app to another. Basically linking applications within each-other with inside parts hyper-mobile-linked like the web is today. Embedding would be even crazier especially if you could use one content type from one application inside another. From personal profiles, shopping results, virtual goods to money itself.

  16. Humberto

    (My opinion) I Would think steve Jobs-Like. I think there’re a couple of questions:- When will smartphones services and hardware work as full functioning APIs that can talk through standards with other remote services? And who will control identity (identification and authentication- users&passwords)Answer: as long as hardware isn’t suficiently stable, this wont happen. There’s still NFC, USB vs wireless, an endless number of Bluetooth protocols, different camera tech, etc, robotics, printing.. At least a few of these should start to get more stable.. Like screens and responsive web apps- How well can people tangibilize a service? I mean, an app is there, as real as it gets. There’s “broken links”, I have never heard the term “broken apps” used in the same way or as frequently.Answer: I guess when a company launches an app they are forced to build something more stable and permanent. If you have a mobile service, in 2 minutes you can change anything, address included- User control. Facebook could have been the personal data API, but they are blowing it. Too many adds and privacy concerns means people will probably never want Facebook to be the owner of their data, like gmail for example is.

    1. Richard

      this is the direction i was going to take.

    2. fredwilson

      Great comment

      1. Humberto

        fred, on the topic.. have you looked into the read write web’s article on firefox os? its sounds a lot like what was talked about!

        1. fredwilson

          yes, i am digging into this whole area. samsung’s tigen is built on a similar code base

    3. Abdallah Al-Hakim

      good point about Facebook (and today’s Instagram news confirms the suspicion that most have about Facebook)

    4. raycote

      “- When will smartphones services and hardware work as full functioning APIs that can talk through standards with other remote services? And who will control identity (identification and authentication- users&passwords)””- User control. Facebook could have been the personal data API, but they are blowing it.”Nice points !

  17. Tom Labus

    So what do things look like after the smartphone races and we have morphed into something no one sees now.

    1. Matt A. Myers

      “So what do things look like after … we have morphed into something no one sees now.” – No one can answer this based on your question. 😛

      1. Tom Labus

        that was my Yogi Berra imitation

  18. johndefi

    1) Agree with others giving the answer of both. I like the immersive, closed experience of an app for products/services that I like or need enough to download and use often. It’s fast, efficient, and direct. Mobile web allows for easier, linear transition from one service to another rather than the back and forth of apps.2) Slick, intuitive navigation features, security (data transfer & password storage), fast coverage everywhere.3) Cheaper data plans and bandwidth that can handle more users at higher speeds.

  19. Woody Lewis

    Unless there’s a radical technical innovation, the investments will generally miss the mark. Mobile web is a context, not a feature. Delivering a device-agnostic product or service that puts mobile web on equal footing with apps is hard to do, but delivering one that combines seamless use cases across devices with innovative UX and real-time updates/upgrades is the sweet spot. “Responsive” will become an obsolete concept, the new norm no matter what else happens. (From my iPad)

    1. fredwilson

      So sit on the sidelines and wait?

  20. Aaron Klein

    1. Yes. Lower barriers to user acquisition, simple sharing protocols, write once-run anywhere.2. A lot. The mobile web sucks and the app experience is a million times better right now. We need:- Local device caching of all web app code, UI and data- Instant zero-latency loading- Zero page refreshing while using the app- No visible difference when using the app online or offline- Rich APIs to build the UI innovations that are simple and delightful in native apps- Access to all device sensors and hardware…- …which means, a simple domain-level web app permissions framework3. This is what we pay you to figure out. 🙂

      1. Aaron Klein

        Heard about this yesterday and gave it a try. Impressive. We’re closer than I thought.

    1. fredwilson

      Who is going to build that list in #2?

      1. Aaron Klein

        It seems like it would have to be the mobile OS vendor. But you have me thinking.


        Me! I had to do that kind of thing with “raindrops” for eMOS..But, the “no visible difference when online or offline” is not a correct statement. I think its no difference for screen size changes. But, you really do want changes based on screen size. Reason being the user is what’s important not the code. And users will want to take advantage of all screen realestate available..Umm… But raindrops are the answer I think.

        1. Aaron Klein

          I want the app to function identically whether you are online or offline.Obviously, new data won’t load. But I should be able to write a blog post, go out of signal, hit the home button, come back to the app, and everything should be there just as it was.


            I hope we’re not just in terminology confusion. But… If you mean look and act *exactly* the same then I think you’ll be about the only one who wants that. You don’t want a system to *look* as if it is functioning the same way if the system offers searches that merge local and remote data. You will then *think* you searched the internet when in fact you were *not connected* and you just searched locally..I think I understand basically what you’re saying. You don’t want the crazy confusing “WTF” kind of thoughts that you get using poorly designed systems..I think you’re describing a briefcase model. You want the system to “behave properly” according to whether it is offline or not. But, you don’t want it to appear things are lost (or actually get lost) or other nasties when you’re using a system that’s internet integrated.

          2. Aaron Klein

            No, that’s not what I’m saying.Very simple: web apps suck when the data connection gets flaky.I want that not to be so. Fail nicely and save my data, like native apps do.

      3. kevinwhinnery

        Mozilla is building #2 with Firefox OS, making web apps first class citizens. That’s the only way to make web apps compete with native apps in terms of user experience. In terms of raw graphical performance, the browser is improving rapidly. However, the browser remains a ghetto for apps, who are locked out of device sensors, notification systems, and other APIs that make native apps awesome.To answer your questions directly:1) would a mobile web that is open and interactive like the web be preferable to the app ecosystem we now have on mobile? And if so, why?Yes, ideally, since the app store acts as a barrier between user and software developer. I can’t update my app experience until a user downloads my app update, which Apple or Microsoft or Amazon first needs to approve. Even if approved, my user still needs to take the step of updating it, which they might not care to. App stores also create bullshit, arbitrary barriers in place around innovative use of the device and what content is acceptable for device users. The “app store” ecosystem sucks for developers.2) what technologies, apps, and services do we need to get there?The emerging Device API standards are a start: OS is taking that concept further and making the web the operating system.3) are there any obvious investments that one should make to help jump start the mobile web?I honestly think Firefox OS is the only hope for the web on mobile. Only by making web apps first class citizens can they ever be expected to compete with native apps on other platforms. So if you’re betting on “the inevitable victory of the web”, as many web zealots are, I would jump on board there.It could be that the real universal platform for mobile hasn’t appeared yet, however.

  21. Nir Zion Pengas

    borrowing from our history and the move to SaaS i can see the benefits of the mobile web being THE way applications are deployed. in the world of google fiber and tera bytes per second download speed, why would i care to download and install my apps? this would be a scalable distribution model that (thinking apple) bypasses the appStore all together. think about it, no more approval process. when you hit you will bookmark the app to your home screen and it will launch off the web.yes there are privacy and security issue and this model may see some major issues. however the idea of running native obj-c code via web technologies has IMHO tremendous appeal and it can scale globally far as investment goes, lateral moves may work by betting on infrastructure, both carriers, commodities and large service companies. technology wise, it would be a great thought exercise to code a virtualizer/webWrapper than can fetch and execute native code

  22. William Mougayar

    Responsive design is a big sleeper and enabler for the Mobile Web. If done well, it is an amazing boost to the Mobile Web, possibly as significant as HTML5’s promise.Every Web App should have a responsive design that includes some UX tweaks and you’re more than half-way into a Mobile Web experience.

    1. awaldstein

      Yup….looking into this now.But to me, responsive design or no, if you haven’t figured out what part of your value is mobile centric in behavior (and it’s almost always not everything unless you are 100 mobile), you are simply wasting cycles.

      1. William Mougayar

        Agreed. That’s where the UX part comes in. So, don’t just translate into responsive design without making sure you’re keeping the right controls and removing unnecessary ones. Responsive forces you to think like you would when designing for mobile: what is essential for my users?

        1. awaldstein

          i’m making a Tshirt that says “Why should your customer care?”Whenever someone talks to me about monetization strategies, customer acquisition or design, I’m asking this first 😉

    2. Elia Freedman

      Disagree. I have set this elsewhere already but I will keep repeating it. Mobile is different then desktop. You can’t just re-jigger the UI a little and call it good. Each form factor needs its own thinking: smartphone, tablet and desktop. What is each best for? How will people interact with each?Don’t shrink. Rethink.

      1. William Mougayar

        We are doing this now, and I don’t think these are mutually exclusive. Why does “everything” have to be “re-thought” for Mobile? If it was designed from the beginning with enough flexibility to work for both, why not?

        1. Elia Freedman

          It doesn’t mean that there isn’t cross-over elements across form factors. What it means is that what a user expects to do on a smartphone is different from a tablet and different from the desktop. It’s not, in most cases, just as simple as re-jiggering the UI a little bit.Mapping is a great example of this. On a smartphone many of these features are hidden from view or not available at all or positioned very differently then where they are in the desktop versions.

          1. kidmercury

            i agree with the basic premise you’ve been making here, but i wanted to mention the issue of cost. rethinking and re-executing a UX for mobile is a large task — and even larger if one thinks the UX should be rethought for iOS, for iPad, for ipad mini, for kindle fire, nexus 7, nexus 10, samsung galaxy camera, etc. in many instances, re-jiggering the UI may be a solution that is good enough. for customers that is not, it may be worthwhile to seek to package the ideal hardware and app together, rather than creating many an app for each hardware configuration.

          2. LE

            “the UI may be a solution that is good enough”I really hate to quote and mention “Steve” but “Steve” never thought like that. I think that type of thinking is what leads to the mediocrity that is many products out there. Like Dell desktops where you can cut your hands on the rough metal inside. (That said from a profit standpoint it might work. As I said in my previous post one size does not fit all strategies.)For what it’s worth the “Steve” story about the back of the fence really resonated with me (it’s where his father told him that he would know that the job wasn’t done right even though others wouldn’t). If you take pride in what you do you always are striving to do a good job and produce a quality product regardless sometimes (to a fault) with the economic outcome of that decision. (By the way my father would not have agreed with Mr. Jobs even though I do.)

          3. kidmercury

            $teve was focused on building luxury products and had the approach of an artist — not a businessperson. sculley helped scale apple 1.0 and cook did it for the reincarnation of apple, because those guys were businesspeople — not artists. apple’s whole approach is not sustainable at scale, and we’ll see them devolve to the niche player there were/are in the PC world. history repeats.for serious businesses interested in sustainably scaling, not overshooting is vital. it’s not about creating great stuff; it’s about creating stuff that’s good enough at the lowest possible price. #amazonpride

          4. LE

            “sustainably scaling”You remember the scene perhaps in Dirty Harry where they say to Clint “it’s a whole new ball game Callahan” to which he says “funny I never thought of it as a game”.To me it’s about making money and something you can be proud of and not about shoving “dreck” down the throats of people (like the banks do with totally fucked up procedures and robotic customer support). All the other things (empire building, smoke up the you know what) is really much less important.I agree that the artist approach will not work at scale. But there is something to be said about building quality products and making money. Or running a small successful restaurant or building luxury housing etc.Scale and building big is an artifact of the investment community and mass media and what popular culture focuses on (at least when they are not running some heartwarming piece about the engine that could).”for serious businesses”You can be Levittown, you can be Le Frak city or you can build small luxury housing and get a good feeling by making sure the crown moulding dovetails correctly and still eat with the classes even though you are not serving the masses.

          5. ShanaC

            that isn’t an either or – you can be levvittown and have the correct moulding. good products are scalable.

          6. William Mougayar

            Maybe generalizing is not the right way to answer this (addressed to both of us). I think some apps need to be defined & implemented on mobile very differently than web, while others do fine with form factorization. Take the Twitter iPad app which was an awful implementation case of iPadization gone too far. The Twitter Web app on an iPad works great without any modification.

        2. LE

          I’m with @eliafreedman:disqus on this one.”If it was designed from the beginning with enough flexibility to work for both, why not?”No such thing. Can’t serve that many masters. Always going to be tradeoffs in design and it’s near impossible for a product (physical) or software or an interface to be good at all things even if designed that way from the start.Maximum efficiency comes from products engineered for a particular purpose from the beginning and after carefully considering the drawbacks of other products. I have a car with a bose system. The manufacturer of the car told bose – “figure out a way to put your sound system in the space we provide you”. Good sound was not a priority to this manufacturer. They weren’t going to engineer around what was good for Bose. Getting a performance car with acceleration and styling was. (I’m sure there are Fords with better sounding systems. And no question a SUV is better in the snow.)That’s one of the reasons also why you can’t learn everything you need to know by reading on the internet. The strategy I use in one particular situation (right now I”m stealthily trying to buy a domain but in other cases I’m not in stealth mode) depends on many factors and the need to optimize available knowledge and experience for a given situation.That said it does not mean that a dedicated designed product can’t be sucky or a product that handles many uses can’t be better than that sucky product.

  23. maxpelle

    Fred,1) if you look globally there are about 8M developers on the web (at large not mobile focused) compared with about 500K developers on native appstore. With html5 and the multi-screen experience inevitably over time a large proportion of the 8M will start addressing the mobile web experience. CSS+JS will become dominant. I like to think that the “native ecosystem” is just a short-term bug until we can get a satisfactory browser experience empowered by all device-APIs that are missing today.2) Currently the mobile web is pretty damn good for content publishers (see FT web app huge success or the last NYT web apps), while it is not great yet for gaming and other apps with an intense use of device-APIs. Another big issue is the monetization although some solutions (see are coming along very nicely3) I think discovery, monetization, development ecosystem APIs are the three investment themes around mobile web.

    1. RichardF

      great comment

    2. James Ferguson @kWIQly

      Great comment – I would add that node.js, angular.js express and mongo as a stack with jade for templating are coming together to make a massive impactFor info…and (disclosure my CTO s occasional blog – but cool if you are interested)http://nodejsrocks.blogspot…

    3. Elia Freedman

      There are way more than 500,000 mobile developers. There are about 500,000 companies with apps in the iOS App Store and Google Play alone.

      1. maxpelle

        exactly, and iOS and GPlay are the 2 biggest ecosystems. So the proportion stands

        1. Elia Freedman

          I don’t understand your response. That’s 500,000 companies, not developers. I would guess that there are at least 2-3 million mobile developers, and many of them are also web developers.

      2. Alin Merches

        Many companies have multiple apps on App Store or Google Play. I know companies having many tens of apps there. So I wouldn’t bet there are that many independent companies…I think 250-300k maximum; but yes, developers could be more than 1M

        1. Elia Freedman

          The average is two apps per company and there are over 1 million (I think close to 1.5 million apps) between iOS App Store and Google Play. There are at least 500,000 COMPANIES and, I would bet, at least 2-3 million DEVELOPERS.

          1. Alin Merches

            indeed you are right, one small add-on though: 1.5 million apps cross platform – a lot of them are duplicate from a platform to another. And the big majority of those hundreds of thousands of “companies” are freelancers or 1 person companies…

          2. fredwilson

            i tend to agree with you Elia. but they are so damn hard to hire.

          3. falicon

            This is because the real disruption that all this technology has brought is in the traditional model of a company…you no longer need a company/corporation to get an app/idea built…you don’t need to get paid to really learn how to make, distribute, and sell something…you can just go out there and try it/do it…and even though you might not hit the same level of success or distribution as you would with real company backing, you *can* get some level of success without having to compromise *any* of your freedom/thoughts/time…It’s a problem that is only going to get bigger and bigger…companies can no longer hire developers or designers…they must convert them.They have to get them to completely buy into the idea, the passion, the ‘why’…so much so that they are willing to push their own ideas, passions, and whys to the side for what the company is doing instead…it’s the *only* real way to win big going forward.

    4. fredwilson

      Good. We have multiple bets on your list in #3And I agree that mobile web is great for reading. That’s how I read most everything these days

      1. William Mougayar

        I think there are 3 types of Apps:1) ones that thrive in mobile, eg, Uber, Foursquare, Hailo, etc… 2) ones that don’t care as it’s a user choice, e.g. reading, email3) ones that need the desktop and don’t translate well to mobile, eg. a spreadsheet, project management, several enterprise apps, etc..We need more of #1 for sure. They are the ones that make the Mobile Web shine.

        1. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

          u r being a evangelist of desktop … desk …top? old style. that is what my 10-year old son says.

          1. ShanaC

            there is usefulness in a big screen and a keyboard.

          2. JamesHRH

            like banging out longer comments on AVC

          3. Anuj Agarwal

            Yup. my heart burns when someone says its all mobile these days and desktop is dead.

          4. Kirsten Lambertsen

            My eyes burn.

          5. Matt A. Myers

            Your 10-year old son likely isn’t using tools that are really only desktop-only to create things; No offense meant – he very well could be, though the only real creation that happens by a mass group on mobile phones currently is photo taking, and possibly video taking but far smaller %.

          6. William Mougayar

            Hmm, I wasn’t implying that.


          I think I see why its hard to know what goes on here at AVC with regards to mobile. Everyone is mixing mobile and screen size to mean the same thing. I can see that from your #3 William. A device with a large screen can still be mobile.

        3. fredwilson

          i do most of my spreadsheet work on google drive on my phone and tableti am not sure #3 exists. it just needs to be rethought.


            Yea well… Talking people into that is a hard sell. Talk changes and people look at you like you have two heads. Take a look at my blog Fred, RapidCloudSolutions dot info and see if it doesn’t sound a bit strange. But, it’s all about leaving the old behind and rethinking. Try to get people to understand that!!!

      2. maxpelle

        Fred, I have also a quora board on mobile html5…where I gather all resources around mobile web and web apps. Probably worthed to give it a look

        1. fredwilson

          for some reason i never use Quora. i have never taken to it.

          1. falicon


      3. maxpelle

        Fred, got some questions on twitter on where I found the 8M figure. here is my reply

    5. takingpitches

      The FT is the one newspaper I still read in paper, and since digital access does not necessarily come bundled in, the move of the FT to web app completely escaped me. Thanks for mentioning it.I did a little research and I found a nice interview with the guy at the FT responsible for the move that has a lot of good information and lessons on advantages of disadvantages of mobile web versus app in terms of development, maintenance and marketing. The link is here and I am cutting and pasting an answer comparing driving usage on the mobile Web versus app to give a feel.…”Is it easier/cheaper to promote a Web app than a native app?If your native app isn’t performing well in the App Store, your options are really quite limited in terms of driving usage. Typical online marketing techniques are all but useless, and really you are at the mercy of either a big, traditional marketing spend, or on hoping that the particular technology company who owns the app store you’re in promotes your app within one of the home-screen categories. You may be able to track to downloads from a display-based ad campaign, but the rich fabric of internet traffic-driving is all but lost.We are just beginning to scratch the surface of how social media, deep links and inbound traffic from search and search engine marketing (SEM) can link into our app, and how we can create links out of the app as well via sharing, however it is clear that being part of the Web, enables the Web app to benefit from inbound linking to a far greater extent than a native app.”

      1. Abdallah Al-Hakim

        thanks for digging the post and the summary. I agree with @maxpelle:disqus point number 2. I too do most of my reading on the mobile web and is great for this.

    6. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

      down voted.u don’t know the mobile users … anything on desktop u take it them to their mobile … they are excited. 90% of mobile users never seen a desktop. and period.

    7. ShanaC

      I’m not so clear that curation loses it power. It may not be dominant, but I suspect that much like there are blog/twitter/pininterest/facebook/tumblr tastemakers, there will be models for tastemaking on mobile

  24. Jan Schultink

    The problem with HTML5-based “apps” is slower response time and a crappier one size fits all UI that needs to work on all devices and screens.Maybe we need a hybrid: a huge local cache memory in which you download an HTML5 “app” (a big site with a lot of local functionality) that takes out the unpredictable stutter in the user experience. As download speed increase, the issue will get smaller.HTML5 is unavoidable with the proliferation of screen sizes, operating systems and versions of operating systems.

    1. ShanaC

      so this is a how to optimize smartphone memory issue to you?

      1. Jan Schultink

        Not sure, I am not a tech specialist, it could be a solution

  25. Michael Brill

    I think we’re going to see a radical change in the mobile UI away from a million apps, but it’s not going to be the mobile web. Instead, I consider Google Now to be the Netscape 1.0 of the mobile world. Like the Windows 95 era, we have a mess of unintegrated apps and every new idea someone has requires a new app – it’s a model that has hit a wall. While the browser bailed out the desktop environment, it’s not a great model for mobile – even when performance and device integration issues are addressed.We need our devices to be smarter, to do more for us and let us know when we need to take action instead of us always telling the device what to do. Imagine the thousands of things in our lives each have an agent/card living in the cloud, identifying risks and opportunities, prioritizing, notifying us and facilitating our action. Our lives become a lot easier and 90% of the (non-game) app functionality that exists in app stores can be subsumed by this model. We don’t need to download lots of apps and discovery becomes so much easier as the aggregated personalization of all these cards creates the intelligence that allows new application content (agents/cards) to be pushed to us.And here’s the kicker: this solves the mobile monetization problem. Forget display ads and the marketing subterfuge we call native advertising. Instead, what if the future of ads were value-add? Google produces an API for third parties to deliver context-aware application content, creates a “AdCards” model (hypothetically) and now companies can compete for customers by providing value, not simply grabbing their attention.The more I think about this, the more I believe that some version of this card model backed by agents in the cloud, open APis, etc. is the future of mobile. And with Google putting Now into the Chrome browser on your laptop/desktop, I wonder if this we may see some disruption in the web world as well.

    1. fredwilson

      So HyperCard instead of hypertext?

      1. Michael Brill

        Maybe a little bit… It’s not so much the “card” per se (arguably a single page mobile app could serve that presentation function) but a few shifts in the environment including:* Synchronous (human-powered) > Asynchronous (machine-powered)* Noisy attention model > value-add intention model* Users download hundreds of apps > Single user model for new “features”* Proprietary fat apps > Open cloud APIsI think most of the underlying trends favor a material change from the email/social/search/app hairball that we’ve created – there just aren’t enough hours in the day for it to work. Let me tell my device what I want and then let it do all the hard work for me.Siri won’t work; social won’t work; machine learning won’t work… I don’t even own an Android device and, sure, Google Now is pretty narrow in its current implementation (maybe more like Mosaic 1.0)… but I am absolutely convinced that it is the technology that allow them to eat everyone’s lunch – and I don’t even own an Android device.(Full disclosure: I have spent most of this year on a different, but spiritually-related endeavor).

        1. rmchrQB

          What you’re describing reminds me of the “GeneralMagic” vision of the early 90s, if you remember that company. I had to do a paper on them when they were a startup. I don’t know that novelty apps will ever completely disappear but the fusion of personal networks plus personal intelligent agents will lead to enhanced, well, personalization. Advertisers will have to compete for you in that space, a very fast funnel.

          1. Michael Brill

            Yeah, some similarities… but this is actually less ambitious technically and there’s a ton of infrastructure and a business model to support the business. Oh, and probably a couple hundred million devices will be sold that have it installed next year.I agree that novelty apps, games and a lot of other apps don’t disappear, but I look at my phone filled with single-function apps that really should be features inside of a platform.

        2. Richard

          This is the direction i am going in.

        3. fredwilson

          i like how you think. i have an android phone and have never used google now. i will give it a try now.

      2. ShanaC

        that would be incredibly retro. Hypercard?

      3. raycote

        Now that sounds like the ultimate “Man in the Middle Attack” on personal privacy/sovereignty.Centralized corporate middle men operating the algorithmic cross wiring of my whole life as reusable fragments of monetization for themselves and their partners.Now a distributive, HyperCard/HyperDashboard like, algorithmic cross wiring of my whole life as reusable interconnect fragments hosted and controlled on a distributive net-work of virtual/plug servers under the end users direct control would be great.

    2. andyidsinga

      agreed the google now model is a game changer!

  26. Brandon Kessler

    API access on mobile platforms, and performance, are two big barriers to mobile web parity. Performance is improving due to hardware, though not enough for many games.APIs (access to camera, contacts, push notifications, music, etc) are the more interesting gating factor. Google is strategically positioned to allow that access to mobile web apps given Google’s goal to commoditize everything but search. And Windows, RIM, and everyone but Apple might join in to play catch up and get more apps into their ecosystem.A world like that could encourage platform providers to compete by offering more interesting APIs, something that could really benefit innovation.

  27. Saurabh Hooda

    1. Open mobile web has to be the future. Its just a matter of time when native apps will give way to open mobile web. I don’t understand why do would we need to make a native app when browsers itself will be as powerful as native OS.2. Technologies/services will keep on evolving with time.3. Competitive forces are already pouring in big bucks into mobile web. Everyone wants future to be written in their language and with their name on the gate. Investing into make web open and transparent and not evil will yield result..

  28. rikardlinde

    1) Yes. Usability, no installation and interface habits (such as the Back button). Basically, Jakob Nielsen’s core teachings.2) Twitter Bootstrap-like systems making mobile web creation easier and faster. Tools that facilitate “create once, publish everywhere” for multiple tools and platforms.3) Not sure. Bootstrap, Foundation.

  29. Elia Freedman

    I’ve been developing mobile apps since 1997 and web apps since 2007. In addition, I’ve been working on a hybrid product in the short-term. Here are a few of my observations:1. Mobile web is a scary place for most consumers. There is too much typing, too much confusion, too many ways to get lost. The experience of apps is much more comfortable. Yes, they need to search the app store for the desired app. But once it is found and download, it’s theirs and it is made for their screen. No worrying about weird search results and bad fitting sites and ones that won’t load and how to get there and which box to type into, etc. No worrying about what happens when I don’t have an Internet connection or, at least on iOS, that it stealing everything from my device. In particular, no worrying about finding the same thing next time.2. Technologically, the web is treated as a second-class citizen. Accessing to cameras, GPS, etc., is spotty. Being able to do anything custom with keyboards or the screen is not really possible. Even little things like animation is not as good as native apps. Until recently, on iOS, we didn’t even have access to the nice accelerated scrolling available to native apps.3. Hybrid apps are interesting, too, but many of the same lessons apply. We are working with a contenteditable div within a native app. I can’t tell you how much hacking we have had to do to make it function at all like a standard text box.4. On Android, there is the further complication of browser differences. There are hundreds of webkit versions in use right now. In fact, I’d argue that Android being stuck with such a horrible upgrade model is really a major factor for the platform. Small web bugs on Android kill you, especially on popular devices, and hacking around minute things because a way of life.5. As I have commented elsewhere, designers are at fault, too. It is not enough to think about these sites as smaller versions of the desktop web. Each mobile platform — smartphone, tablet — needs a re-think in the way customers interact with it. At the first Palm developer conference in 1998, Jeff Hawkins stood on stage and pushed a very important concept. He said “Don’t shrink. Rethink.” We need more of that from mobile web (and app) developers.

    1. Alin Merches

      I can confirm this Elia, since we are a mobile app development studio

    2. kidmercury

      great comment. i think a lot of mobile web > native apps people grossly underestimate the quality difference, and falsely believe the gap will be closed any time soon.


        “…falsely believe the gap will be closed any time soon.”.Why? There are already cross platform libraries that make compiling one codebase for different platforms easy.

        1. kidmercury

          all those cross platform libraries will not be able to keep up with the rapidly growing diversity of platforms and hardware specs. i believe one size fits all is reaching its limit.

          1. Elia Freedman

            +1 except reaching its limit? Never was truly viable. Even with Java it was so clear when an app was designed for Windows and then “compiled” for Mac. It doesn’t work on mobile even more, especially if you care at all about making the experience match device usability expectations.


            You’re saying the answer you want isn’t the answer. That doesn’t make sense. The only option is one library that brings everything together. What you have now is separate systems with separate functionality. The intermediate step to reaching a common approach is recompiling from one library. There are libraries and platforms that are almost pixel perfect. What development methods are you using?

          3. Elia Freedman

            I have no idea what you mean by “the answer I want is the answer.” There is no good way to develop for Android, iOS, Blackberry, And Windows Phone out of one code base and make it look natural for that platform. There is no way today to crate one code base for Windows and Mac, making it look natural on both platforms. Some components are portable but the skin, at a minimum, needs to be customized if your goal is to make it look like a natural product.


            You’re saying all are different and you want them to be the same. Then you say one library is not the answer. Do you want them all the same or not?.Well, you’re adding in “no good way” that makes it open to interpretation. I’m saying there are ways to develop for most platforms using a single code base. At least one of those ways makes applications that are almost pixel perfect matches.

          5. Elia Freedman

            I never said I want them to be the same.As for “pixel perfect” (which is a term I am not familiar with either) until someone shows me a product, the same app, compiled from one code base, that looks like an iOS app and an Android app at the same time, that takes advantage of the features that people expect in each of those apps, I won’t believe it. I haven’t seen that yet.


            What? They are designed to query the system for what is available. Are you talking about something designed years ago or the new stuff?

          7. raycote

            Isn’t trading away the benefits/simplicity of syntactic unity in order to gain speed just a short term solution to a fast disappearing hardware limitation.The history of computing is all about hiding complexity and its variables.Isn’t that going to repeat itself here in short order?Sort of like the reduced instruction set approach that biological evolution has taken with a universally reusable cell structure that generates immense diversity with standardized fall back insurance built in.

    3. Bora Celik

      I co-sign these thoughtful comments.

    4. maxpelle

      I like the “don’t shrink, rethink”. I believe that is applicable to responsive design too. great comment overall

    5. takingpitches

      well said and super-thoughtful comment by you.”Don’t shrink. Rethink.” Well said and excellect design philosophy by Hawkins.


      “Don’t shrink. Rethink.”.That’s a good start and the best approach is to “mind meld” the situation. I know that there are differences. Maybe no drag-n-drop or whatever. What to do? First, look back to see what Windows did for the industry. Yes, put aside the BSOD and realize that it brought about massive acceptence of a “standard user interface”. This means defining and labeling user interaction methods. EditBox, ComboBox, Grid, TreeView, etc. Then encouraging developers to use those in the applications..No different today except we’ve been there done that. We already know that a common computer user interaction paradigm is the way to go. Yes, we have some market share grabbers with their app stores. But, that’s OK. Companies will stop spending to develop and maintain multiple code bases and things will change. Lazy will prevail !!!

      1. raycote

        CUTE !Lazy will prevail !!!orthe course of least resistanceseems like a universal gravity well !I only wonder whether volitional self-interest and greed are the exception to that rule ? ? ?

    7. Mark Gannon

      On Android, there is the further complication of browser differences. There are hundreds of webkit versions in use right now. In fact, I’d argue that Android being stuck with such a horrible upgrade model is really a major factor for the platform. Small web bugs on Android kill you, especially on popular devices, and hacking around minute things because a way of life.Isn’t this equally a problem for native Android apps? Unlike Microsoft, Google seems to take no effort to make sure that different hardware instances all work appropriately. For example, I wrote an Android app on the G1 (the first Android phone), and there was a bug in the camera implementation that prevented the documented portrait mode from working properly. No fix was ever implemented and Google only acknowledged the issue in an off topic blog comment post.

      1. Elia Freedman

        Yes, there are problems all across Android with these issues. I’m not certain how much insight you get as a mobile web developer into the web kit version.

    8. Barry Nolan

      +1 +2¢There is a fundamental difference between mobile web applications, and mobile applications. With mobile apps, our phone is our camera, our game console, our communicator, our tv, our turntable, our instant connection with our services from hailing cabs, to turning on our alarm. Mobile use cases are inherently different to the desktop “web we know and love” – browsing, linking, wandering.The product, and the experience, define the decision you take web v app. For the reasons stated, and below, apps today have a decisive advantage:Speed: The No1 reason Facebook switched from HTML5 to native is speed. The average length of a mobile app session is 71.56 seconds. Delay is deadly.Native: means that the app is intimate with the OS and its resources; not a browser abstracted from it. Compare gmail in-app to the mobile browser. Or even twitter desktop to ipad. No contestBeyond browsing; especially playing – the No1 mobile use case. Play (online and off) requires native; aka apps.Enterprise to: the internet of things; those episodic apps – banking, personal finance, setting your house alarm – rely heavily on security and identity management resources of native.It’s expected: clients of ours with both mobile web and apps, experience 5X app usage versus mobile web. It’s part the better experience, but it’s also that the ‘app-UI’ is becoming hard coded.Friction is falling: from discovery to download. Even for Apple as announced today. On the Facebook iOS app, you can now install third party apps, without having to exit to the app store.

      1. kidmercury

        great comment. i forgot about the speed issue which is huge — super huge, maybe the hugest factor of all.


          Even bigger than it not working correctly?

      2. fredwilson

        speed is the #1 feature of most successful apps

    9. JamesHRH

      Elia – I think design is the only issue – rethink is not happening enough.Bringing the desktop web to mobile is useless, for all the reasons you listed in point #1. The UX has to be different on mobile. What is odd is that it gets done properly in an app fairly often but is very rare on a m.url.If you want to see mobile open web (MOW ???) done right – grab something small and point a browser @ .The design here has basically constrained itself to my iPhone screen dimensions. The vertical / visual layout was clearly done by someone who knows how important the side of your thumb is in iPhoneLand.I don’t see anything in mobile that has that breakout ‘now the web is organized around people not pages’ nature of social. The main reason I believe that is that my usage intent for ‘mobile’ is dependent on my device, my activity & the continually unknowable locus of my activity (is it IRW here, IRW somewhere else or entirely online ).All in all – its a VC Red Herring, IMO.Hawkins is surprisingly unworshipped. This is the guy who had the insight that it was easier to teach people to write the one way a device could read, as opposed to believing that one device could read all the ways people write.Oh, for the love of Mike but the world would be a better place if every last speech rec zealot (I am talking to you too Mr Gates) was locked in a room with Hawkins for a month.

      1. raycote

        Just like it is easier to build cars knowing that they will have a standardized flat road surface to interface with!

    10. William Mougayar

      I can’t totally agree with all of your points, as they’re a bit idealistic. But your point #4 is very true and a big issue for Android. However, a decent Android device is much faster at processing/digesting JavaScript when part of an HTML5 Mobile Web app when compared to an iPhone.

      1. Kirsten Lambertsen

        My experience is that anything is faster than downloading and installing an app at the moment when you really need something. I’d rather wait for an HTML5 web app than download my 89th app for the next 15 minutes.

        1. fredwilson

          i agree and for consuming content, where there are literally thousands of different content sites i visit in any month, the mobile browser is fine and it is what i always read in. i do not have a single web content reading app on my phone. but when an app requires a lot of engagement, i will do the download, which i hate

        2. raycote

          When it comes to habitual behaviours picking an efficient habitual execution method is king.That overhead of setting up the most efficient habitual behaviour will pay endless dividends on that one time front end effort.Better to work hard once to identify a best of breed habitual behaviour than to work endlessly hard at executing a poorly chosen habitual behaviour.

    11. fredwilson

      “don’t shrink, rethink” – instant reblog on

  30. Richard

    Mobile Output/Search powered by a Statistica/Probabilistic/and Semantic framework that runs somewhat autonomously.

  31. Elia Freedman

    Fred, my guess is your questioning is tied into one complicated question: why are none of the great desktop web companies doing mobile web only apps? Not Google or eBay. Not Yahoo! or Amazon. Not Facebook or Twitter.

    1. fredwilson

      well yes, and further is someone going to come along and do it right and take share from them

  32. markslater

    app ecosystem is client-server. Future is cloud.Apps are fast becoming point solutions. Future is mobile web app that captures the collective function of these points.

    1. Michael Brill

      +1. Whether the UI is embedded in the device, a browser or apps that can render a broad range of application content natively, integrating cloud services into a single, flexible UI model seems like the world is heading.

    2. ShanaC

      cloud is client-server.

  33. Jeffrey Hartmann

    I am a personal proponent of developing where the tooling can make you most efficient. We have figured out how to continuously deploy web based technologies quickly. I think the mobile web will dominate the app based ecosystems as it matures, unless the native mobile tooling and experience can be made to match the iteration speed of web technologies. I think mobile is so important, but I’m not convinced that native mobile apps will stand the test of time.Unfortunately the ability for a web application to access things like microphones, gestures, cameras, etc. is really not there yet. I think Frankenstein native mobile + html 5 hybrids are going to be with us for awhile. I would love to see them die though.

  34. Alin Merches

    Please see the latest declaration of Zuckerberg regarding the mistake FB took with Android app – that they didn’t built native from the beginning…Somehow this gives you a direction on what to bet in the mid-term 🙂

    1. rafer

      Facebook has an existing business to support, which drives most of their decision making. Fred’s got the luxury of building new businesses.

    2. fredwilson

      actually, i would prefer to bet against Zuck. just to be contrarian. you can’t make money with consensus accurate predictions.

  35. Todd

    Currently I think that some app’s work well under the umbrella of web but most don’t.I have experimented with both pure web app’s and x-platform kits because I like the potentials; surfacing your app via the web, continuous deployment, and better x-platform abstraction possibilities.Web app’s just don’t work well for performance dependent apps, or pure mobile experiences that need good access to device capabilities.The x-platform attempts are a bit better but are always a couple of cycles behind the native eco-systems and suffer from the “Yeah but how do you / when will you support this” problemAs far as fragmentation, to some extent your just changing one set of problems for another.What would get it there? Performance, Up to date access to Device Capabilities, A really good x-platform abstraction layer for device centric stuff (where possible), and a really good Tooling set.As to the last: tooling to build web based stuff has pretty much always sucked in comparison to native, desktop or mobile. The web has grown despite of the tooling not because of it. While there are tons of options to do development on the web it’s not exactly an efficient environment to work in, you can get good at it, but it’s maddeningly archaic in many ways.

  36. ShanaC

    1) I think we’re mostly there. I still think we need to work on mobile input interfaces for long form work, even though I think input has gotten significantly better. You still can’t write the great american novel, and aspects of digital drawing are still a bit meh. This also doesn’t include the lack of the ability to develop mobile web on a mobile device (which is weird if you think about it) The other two issues is 1) cell bandwidth and 2) batteries.2) I think a semi open interface is what will happen in the short term, and in the long term there will be a mixture of new and old forms of search. I don’t discount the idea of directories and stores. But, look at Yahoo V Google. The directory idea (yahoo) didn’t really scale up well. I’m really not sure what “new search” will look like though3) Battery tech? Some sort of search that can take one word searchs and turn them into rich results because of the limitations of current mobile imput? A software company that figures out how to sandbox mobile apps in browser while also allowing them to use features on the phone (accelerometer, camera, ect)

  37. jason wright

    i never did use instagram.

  38. Annatated

    Ideally the mobile web is as open as the (immobile) web. We need to start enabling web pages to incorporate the features that native apps offer.

  39. Bora Celik

    I shall disagree with your friend. The experience of using a native app is inherently better than using a mobile web app in a browser. Looking for things in mobile Safari as opposed to having the app icon on your phone is a pain, and people don’t even know “Add to Home Screen” exists to bookmark mobile web apps as an actual app on your phone.So we use mobile pages in our app for viewing of content on the go and for the closing of viral loops as that’s just very hard to do in native. But it’s complementary to the native solution and cannot be a replacement.The comment “now is the time to start building mobile web applications” sounds like it’s already been said a few years ago, been tried and proven that it didn’t work well.

  40. EmilSt

    With the exponential growth of the speed of Internet, smart phone processors, sophistication of software solutions… it is only a question of time when (my guess max 2 years) mobile web will offer no less then native apps. At that point native Eco systems will become meaningless and go to past. Until then, yes we need them and have to be on them.At this moment we are building our web mobile app and we are extremely excited that we crossed many borders of the native apps. Only few left like taking photo, video…We use JavaScript, jquery, html5, responsive design. We are on all platforms mobile, tablet, desktop with one code.Very soon mobile web will become one big, beautiful mash of integrated, refined and optimized technologies.The same like we need borderless humanity we need borderless technologies, Internet…

    1. fredwilson

      from your mouth to god’s ears

  41. Simon Andrews

    Real people see apps as the icons on their smartphones – and when they click they want to be delighted – they don’t know or care whether the app is native or web.So app are essentially sophisticated bookmarks to content and experiences. Some of those (currently) need native – to access the camera or to work offline – but many don’tGiven google search( and social sharing) is way better for discovery than the broken app store, mobile web seems a better way forward. And given (most) developers can’t afford to keep building for different OS, mobile web that works on all devices seems a better betUsing the Google maps webapp was much better than the native apple maps app – and it was good enough. Obviously the native Google maps app is much better than both.To use an analogy, the iphone apps from the VC backed firms are the hollywood blockbusters – some win big and some don’t. But for everyone else, producing TV shows with less epic production values but much cheaper and quicker – and often just as good – is the way forward.

  42. John Lilly

    Fred, glad you’re starting this discussion over here — I posted a few thoughts on my Tumblr about this — would be good to discuss live sometime. :-)…

    1. fredwilson

      i saw them on tumblr yesterday. great stuff. what you think about firefox os? it is getting a lot of love in this comment thread.

  43. André DeMarre

    We are allowing too much money to pass through just a few big app marketplaces, especially iTunes. For the cases where we can achieve the same or better quality mobile experience with web-based apps, why waste money building a closed, platform specific app?Take a look at what the Mozilla folks are up to with Firefox OS. They are demonstrating that we don’t need closed apps to provide rich mobile experiences.

    1. fredwilson

      lots of love for mozilla and firefox OS in this thread. i will pay more attention to that.

  44. daryn

    Yes! There are a lot of challenges to get there, but I’d love to see the mobile web experience enriched to the quality we have come to expect from desktop web and mobile apps.

  45. Stefan

    Others have mentioned it: the sheer experience of a browser on mobile will remain a secondary experience, even when the innards of browsers get better over time. Thinking about it: an essential missing feature may be the “Homepage”: you cannot define a default page for Mobile Safari. This would allow you to build a starting portal for your customers. But the “Homepage” is now the “Homescreen” and the portal is the springboard.Hence I rather believe, that open web technology will prevail in more open hybrid apps. Think of apps, which allow 3rd parties to contribute modules, parts, widgets, views, “cards”, whatever. html5 is the simplest way to enable such sandboxing. This is a model that was such a huge success for FB on the web, but funnily enough there’s no apps in the FB app.So think about a social app which amalgates web-pieces from various sources. Or think about an uber enterprise ERP app, which allows for mash-ups within the app. That’s where web technology rocks and native fails. Not in the browser.

    1. Patrik

      Interesting observation about the missing default “Homepage”. Haven’t thought about that.

    2. monark

      +1 for the mash-up hybrid apps. If someone manages to collect enough eyeballs he’ll be able to create another in-app ecosystem with 3rd party developers. maybe an opportunity for @daltonc and

    3. fredwilson

      ooh. i like how you are thinking. i crave data interoperability in apps and we don’t really get it on mobile. when i click on a soundcloud track in tumblr’s mobile app, my phone launches the soundcloud app. i really want a soundcloud card running in the middle of the tumblr app

  46. Vitomir Jevremovic

    is the mobile web the thing in the dawn of google glasses and the leap?

    1. fredwilson

      good question. i think we are going to see new HCIs soon.

  47. JordanCooper_NYC

    this is what i;m working on. wish you had asked me yesterday.

    1. fredwilson

      well i can ask you today!

  48. Derrick Oien

    When posting on the Nexus 4 are you typing or using the voice inout? I have been loving the voice input!!!

    1. fredwilson

      i type. but i need to push myself to use voice more often.


    Are you putting up these posts to aggravate me? lol.Fred, listen for a moment. Single code base support for most major OSes is here! This means we don’t need to separate mobile and web any more. I’ve been perplexed at you continuing to separate the two for a while now. Can you explain your stance?.1) If you’re talking about browser based access instead of native apps you should rethink that. Developers have struggled with lower browser richness (hence the introduction of RIA) in the past and are moving to native applications. Windows 8 provides for cutting edge web *integration* so now applications no longer need to run in a browser!!!.2) OS integration with the web so that applications can *consume* web data. Apps? Those are user facing and that’s what we’re talking about no? Services that *vend* data and routines for native apps to consume..3) Yes, ones that don’t differentiate between desktop and web and mobile..Why would any business want to continue to invest money to create desktop and web and mobile offerings when merging them into one codebase can reduce costs?!

    1. fredwilson

      i am thinking browser vs native

  50. Mark Gannon

    1. Yes! The 30% platform owners are charging amounts to rent seeking with little benefit for the app developer.2. More control over the hardware from the browser. A quick Google search suggests that HTML5 isn’t going to enable universal access to the camera and accelerometer.3. Companies that enable hw access cross platform via a single APi like Phone Gap. Companies that enable advanced javascript functionality like Sencha, who re-worked Facebook’s mobile app to be a fast web app.

  51. Jussy

    Is this exclusive to mobile phones because to me, we should be looking at how we make the web more integrated and seamless to everything without the use of big clunky old phones. Clothing, cars, packaging, furniture, valves and pipes, medicine, home appliances, events, transport etc.To do this by having to write applications for each device or service without an open platform seems ridiculous. The web is the most appropriate platform today.Assisting and controlling how data flows between all these products and services is an obvious problem to me. I think of this problem like networks with switches, routers and firewalls.As usual, we have all we need, we just need clever people to glue random ideas together to create a solution.

  52. Josh Fraser

    Speed is the #1 feature, but when it comes to the mobile web we’re failing.Last week, one of our engineers at Torbit crawled the Alexa 100k with a fake iPhone User Agent to see how many sites are serving up custom content for mobile. Only 6% of sites crawled offered a custom mobile experience.I believe one of the key pieces of infrastructure we need is a way to make website load faster on a mobile device. Let’s face it, one of the biggest reasons the mobile web sucks right now is because it’s so slow. Of those 6% of sites with a mobile specific experience, only 8% were using a CDN. A traditional CDN alone won’t solve the problem because it’s the round trip times that are the biggest killer on mobile. You really need to fix the content and not just the delivery of it. (This is one of the things we’re working on at Torbit).The data we have shows that we’re still in the early days on mobile, but it’s growing fast. I’m a huge believer in the open web and it’s time we step around the gate-keepers and stop giving Apple 30% of everything.

    1. fredwilson

      wow. that is nuts. only 6%????

  53. Guest

    Over ten years ago, we (SQGO) took a serious look at the challenges of developing cross-platform applications (for mobile), delivering a consistent user experience, bandwidth and power conservation, security, access to native resources, provisioning, state preservation, etc. We filed a massive patent case. The USPTO awarded our claims this November; more claims will follow. If anyone here is interested in building an open ecosystem around our IP (, contact me. No non-practicing entities please.

  54. Kyu Lee

    I don’t expect the web to become dominant on mobile in the future just because the pc followed those steps. We didn’t have network connection and an app ecosystem in place before. The web functioned as a “client-server based technology” and as a “app ecosystem” in some way on the pc, but is non-relevant in the age of network connected smartphone devices with apps easily discovered through an open app store. If the app stores become closed with more restrictions, there may be needs for the mobile web, but otherwise I would question myself if we really need to get there. The biggest problem that has to be solved now rather seems to be “holding the device” and “ways to interact with that device”.

  55. andyidsinga

    would consider investments in platforms with devices that are vertically integrated and based on and optimized around web tech – software in plastic on web :)web – html/css/javascript can get just as optimized as java/dalvek running on android – but probably orders of magnitude harder when fragmented and on someone elses platform.hardware is getting cheaper ( commodity arm ) like software did when commoditty iaas and paas systems came online ..what 8ish years ago?

  56. andyidsinga

    another thing i think is the future ..and worth looking for in investments – startups that take advantage of convergence of really easy software dev, deployment and managment. ..look at how ‘google apps script’ works, how microsoft’s on{x} system works …im not a fanboy of eithter company ..but wow, these are elegant tools and deserve props.

  57. Kevin Leong

    I have a use case where mobile web is more preferred to native app. My company helps local buy local and BIDs create a Pinterest-like merchant directory with opt-in services. Our white-label platform generates full-size web portal, plus mobile web app for local communities and merchants.We can also generate hybrid native apps, but we do not see big gain to justify the cost to deal with new smartphone OS updates and manage the app stores.The only drawback with mobile app is there is no app-store to discover mobile web apps. Apple had a mobile web app-store, which was abandoned in 2010.This is an opportunity to build an app-store for mobile web apps for all platforms. OnAndroid, we will need container app to save (bookmark) mobile web apps.

  58. Adham AbdelFattah

    Well, I guess I would start by thinking about the mobile web ecosystem enablers first and go from there. Right now these enablers (mobile browsers, HTML5, etc) don’t seem to be up to competition (native apps) in terms of 2 very important metrics; responsiveness aka speed and seamless access to mobile native features. May be these are a good starting point to think about investing in mobile web. Enablers will (assuming convergence towards mobile web happens eventually) the most scalable of the ecosystem elements.That said I believe innovation in mobile web is on its way, App stores are approaching infinity, becoming increasingly harder to navigate through, the barrier of the initial download -and as important the difficulty of AB testing- will eventually force developers to innovate for the mobile web. Of course everything else being constant:) e.g. Apple or Google don’t suddenly figure out a way to make distribution via the app store a breeze which might delay the process of innovation in mobile web significantly.

    1. fredwilson

      yes, they are approaching infinity

  59. Emil Stenström

    It’s easy to mix the technology side of things (HTML5 vs. iOS/Android/…) and the user experience side (Safari/Chrome/… vs. App Store). The first is the technology choice you make, and I think HTML5 is very strong in that area. If you need to support multiple platforms (you almost always do), choosing the web platform is probably the right choice. When you look at user experience, you still have a choice, you either let users surf to your app, or just bundle it as an app. If you decide to use HTML5 as your technology, both ways work and you can get the benefits of both.1) I think open and interactive would be preferable now. In the beginning closed was better, but a closed system like Apple’s won’t be able to maintain speed as tools for the open web keeps getting better and due to openness are being worked on by millions of developers. Iterations are much shorter, that’s why the web will win in the long run.2) Developers need frameworks for using web tech in a cross-plattform way. Sencha, Titanium, Phonegap. Tools are still too messy to work with, and are hard to get comparable with native stuff, but we’re getting there:…3) If I had the money I would invest into Sencha, Titanium, Phonegap and tools like that. The future is in the cross platform tools.

    1. fredwilson

      i know some of those companies but not all of them. thanks for the list!

  60. Carl Rahn Griffith

    I know the guys here:…They are doing some very interesting stuff re: mobile web – contact me if interested in an introduction.

  61. jarid

    A lot of people make the mistake of lumping tablets + smartphones together as “mobile”. They’re two very different user experiences with very different use cases. I can’t remember where I read it, but someone said “2013 is going to be the ‘year of mobile’, for the 4th year in a row.”

    1. fredwilson


  62. Semil Shah

    Hi Fred, you should keep an eye on what Steve Newcomb (the guy behind Powerset, now Bing) is up to with He and his co-founder may have had a breakthrough about how to use JS to give developers on mobile direct access to the CPU on iOS, which Apple restricts.

    1. Vitomir Jevremovic

      They are just using Unity3D

  63. James Goodman

    I’ve been discussing the future of the web with intellectual types and business leaders all over the Globe; one thing strikes me as odd, no-one is taking any notice of the kids. That is why for all those who laugh at my insights and tell me I’m wrong, they will eat their words :). The web is being held as a solar system by invisible giants and their partners, because they profit from connecting us together in a multitude of ways. This is not the webs natural state!I would love to discuss my ideas in person, if you could ever find a little time. My first project I’m sure would fascinate, as it is an enabler for the mobile future. It’s possible annual licensing fees of £7.5 billion are nothing compared to the real estate it unlocks.J_M_GoodmanTFarm Ltd(For Good – Too Better)

    1. fredwilson

      i am not interested in licensing technology to others. i am interesting in building technology directly for the market.

  64. Fred Grott

    The problem is the mobile OS/App silo system. If we can standardize the same web tech on all mobile OSes than its easier. An example, nodejs is a red-redded step child on Android os because you have to develop an NDK C+ so extension to get it on the platform an than have that triggered by the other mobile web app.Other OSes some more appreciative of nodejs such as iOS, BB10, MS-WP*, Mozilla OS, etc.BUT, once you get those mobile OSes standardized to always have nodejs accessible it than becomes vey easy to do mobile web services, etc.We could back door nodejs on android if I include in a well highly downloaded homescreen replacement but than again resources and funding as that effort would be disjointed and an indirect connection to other efforts which makes it harder to funding resources.It would be easier if we could group all the efforts/ideas in sort of the mobile webs incubator labs setup I would imagine as far as obtaining funding.I wish Google would right now just bite the bullet and include nodejs as part of webkit.Just thinking out loud

    1. fredwilson

      is anyone working on fixing node for android?



    1. Abdallah Al-Hakim

      I didn’t know about FireFox mobile OS plans. It sounds very interesting but would existing apps need to change to work in that system?



  66. Jamieson Hall

    The most important point in all of this is that Apple, Google or whatever company cannot remain the gatekeeper forever. Dealing with Apple’s increasingly restrictive, and arbitrarily enforced policies has become worse than dealing with the mobile operators directly years ago. The openness of the Web is going to win, because Apple, and whoever else is in the role of gatekeeper, will eventually fuck things up sufficiently well to cause enough people to abandon them for good.

  67. mikebrittain

    Most of these points have been made already. I think about the missed opportunity of mobile web apps over the past few years a lot. The current app ecosystem is just too attractive for developers because of the huge amount of attention paid to it (advertising) by the carriers who are competing to sell us handsets.* Developer Tools and Frameworks. There are a lot of individual pieces, but no single, obvious, and popular framework for building what feels more like an “app” rather than a collection of pages on the web (an earlier comment use the term “card”). We’re competing against the very obvious native SDKs. It *is* possible to write “installable,” offline web applications for mobile browsers, but you still have to cobble together much of the application framework yourself — it’s not yet a well-understood pattern. The HTML5 app cache is not the most wonderful thing to work with, either.Latency is brought up as an advantage of native over web, I think that’s a fallacy. The tools are just not here to help manage the perception of speed for users. An API call from a native app over HTTP is the same thing as requesting an HTML page — only the page refresh and (re-)loading of resources gives the perception that “the web” is a slow medium.* Payments. Less a matter of payment at time of download (e.g. App Store) than it is having a single, trusted digital wallet that you can pay from. Tapping out a 16-digit card number, name, expiry, etc. on a handset is a huge barrier.Try-before-you-buy would be far better to consumers than the proliferation of $0.99 and $1.99 apps that are so cheap that it doesn’t matter if you’ve wasted your money on junk a few times.* Improved Platform (i.e. Browsers). You can argue that the browser is at a disadvantage from native apps because it is an abstraction from the OS. This is hampered further by lower CPU, memory, battery power — all of which will continue to improve over time. But while SDKs and native apps continue to rule and have an obvious, and working, payment model the innovation in mobile browsers will be slower.Browsers will need API parity with native SDKs — i.e. access to cameras, audio, location, file storage, wallets/NFC, preferences (privacy, security), notifications, running in background, network detection, etc.. I would expect you’ll see more innovation here within Chrome OS than on the more mainstream mobile OSes.* Discovery. There’s not a one-stop-shop for native and web apps. The Chrome Web Store is actually decent and provides ties to in-app payments via Google Wallet. Same with Mozilla’s new store, though I’m unaware of any payment service there.Consumers have been well conditioned by handset makers and carriers that they will get their apps from the major native app stores. We have yet to see marketing like that for mobile web apps. And most consumers will use what is put right in front of them, and what they’re hearing in commercials.

  68. Kirsten Lambertsen

    Sorry I’m late..1) would a mobile web that is open and interactive like the web be preferable to the app ecosystem we now have on mobile? And if so, why?—-> Yes! I don’t want to download an app for every damned thing. Happened just the other day. I was *desperate* to get the Amtrak sched on my phone. By the time their app downloaded, it was too late.I personally think it’s inevitable. The web started out requiring a lot of things to be downloaded and installed, too. It naturally evolved away from that.2) what technologies, apps, and services do we need to get there?—> The universal browser :)3) are there any obvious investments that one should make to help jump start the mobile web?—> Outta my depth here, I think. But, at the dummy level it seems like anything stemming from, expanding upon HTML 5. Anything device agnostic and open (I risk being wrong here, but how about XML and RSS for example).

  69. SuperAppTalk

    Here is a list of what is needed:1. A services platform that continuously profiles computing resources (processors, storage and RAM) for heteregeneous hardware (i386, x86_64, ARM7, PowerSeries, GLSL/DX, OpenCL, DirectComput ) on the fly so that it can determine the optimal instructions sets for the runtime code that runs on top of all of the main operating systems (Win XP/Vista/7/8/Phone, Android, iOS/OS X, Linux, Solaris and more).2. A system that converts human language phrases into instruction code and then references the result of profiling service to generate extremely optimized code (100% parallel for 1000x speedups and higher) in the appropriate programming languages (CPU Assembly, GPU Assembly/shader/compute kernels, C#/C++, etc) and then compiles it on the fly.3. A system that generates code devoid of syntax, arithmetic, logic, resource (e.g. overflow conditions), multi-threading programming, performance or team working bugs.These and more revolutionary features will be ready for demo in 1st qtr 2013.

    1. fredwilson


  70. calabs

    There are two webapp architectures, one of which has a future on mobile, and one of which does not. The one that has a future is the single-page, JavaScript heavy single page client typified by what you produce with GWT or Meteor. The one that does not is the one that is rendered server-side, e.g. traditional apps written in Java, Ruby, PHP, .Net, etc. The former can run solidly on multiple mobile devices, and load very quickly if you’re smart with caching, and even more quickly within a native container like PhoneGap.Mobile webapps need a solid, de facto standard application framework to help reduce implementation costs. That is being sorted out right now in the Backbone, Knockout, Angular, Meteor, etc. battles. At this point it’s not even clear which parts of the architecture should be included in a JavaScript heavy framework!Neither Google nor Apple are interested in championing one approach or another because all mobile webapps are a challenge to their hegemony, and erode consumer lock-in. And indeed, emancipating users from that lock-in is a good reason to look to the mobile web.But the real reason to look to the mobile web, I believe, is the potential for new browsers that combine and interact with webapps in ways that are impossible with native apps. A stronger browser that allowed plugins, or the weakening of cross-site access rules could be a real game changer, allowing devs to trivially create utilities that replace entire startups (BufferApp comes to mind). Fundamental to this potential is a quality that Google has leveraged mightily: the universal addressability of data on the web. Of course, every native app has addressable data too, but there is no way for the outside world to access it, and even if there were native apps tend to have quirky internal representations and are nothing as uniform and easy to work with as the DOM.If I had a few million to invest in this area, it’s early yet and I’d look at two areas: first, alternative, native, 3rd party web browsers that are designed to take advantage of the web’s composability and mutability. Second, I’d hire a senior developer you trust to examine closely the framework landscape, pick a likely winner, and invest in it.

  71. Matt Straz

    From an enterprise perspective, Employers are primarily web app users and Employees are still mix of mobile and web users. Creating native “shell” apps that run HTML5 addresses the needs of most users. The one note, made previously, is that you must get them to run FAST. A slight delay is an eternity in mobile.

  72. Jiun-Yang Hsu

    I’ve never seen any “write once run anywhere” promise actually became true. All of them turned out to be “write once debug anywhere”. Mobile browsers are even more fragmented then any of those previous platforms, so I don’t see how it can make the “write once run anywhere” promise.If we use a broader definition for hybrid apps, saying that any apps that uses webview in it is hybrid, then I believe hybrid will win out. But it’s more like 80% native with 20% web codes in that app, not the 95% web and 5% native codes that pro-mobile web guys expect. And as a developer that uses webview inside native app, I have to echo Elia Freedman’s comment. It’s very painful and time consuming to make the web part work in a hybrid app, and it’s very common to see weird bugs here and there after you release your app.

  73. Babbleware

    It depends? Horrible answer but relevant. Would you want to target the consumer side of mobility or the business side? If the former then a lot of the advice you’ve received thus far is pertinent. However if the latter is your target then I feel qualified to answer your three questions in that light:1) would a mobile web that is open and interactive like the web be preferable to the app ecosystem we now have on mobile? Yes! And if so, why? Any enterprise software development has to consider support and version control. Consumer mobile devices change like fashion. Next year we may all be wearing bell bottom pants with the newest big thing in mobile phones replete with a new OS. That requires that the enterprise software solution to mobility is mobile web v. app.2) what technologies, apps, and services do we need to get there? Staying in the enterprise software market: 70% of employees are in Operations where stuff is built, stored, sold, shipped, installed and supported while the other 30% are in ‘corporate’. 100% of businesses already have some enterprise software in place, regardless of its age or sophistication. Modifying, replacing, integrating or upgrading that ‘legacy’ software is suicide. So the next generation of enterprise software must leverage the legacy software so that collaboration (some call it social, but in business it is about working together not vacation pictures), mobility and the cloud can be efficiently deployed without interruption of or awareness by the legacy system. Leave the legacy system untouched and innovate changes in process, data and technology that redefine how you do – what you do. We (BabbleWare) have delivered a complete set of technologies, apps and services to help businesses ‘get there’. What’s required though is universal connectivity to the legacy systems in their native language. This affords the ability to decouple the process, data, logic and technology the legacy system mandates while keeping it fat dumb and happy with what it needs to know to keep the accountants happy. Then a layer of UX, process, logic and technology that supports collaboration of actual work processes for Employees, Vendors and Customers. Ideally the ‘solutions’ built are available for prototyping in a matter of 4 hours or less, pilotting for measured value in 2 days or less and rolled out to production in less than a week to reap the benefits pursued.3) are there any obvious investments that one should make to help jump start the mobile web? Business should stop looking to their legacy software to drive their business. They were not made to drive anything…just record what happened. Isolate the legacy system and investing in agile, next generation enterprise software is the starting point; although I doubt it is obvious. We have worked with industry leaders such as Toyota, Bakers Footwear, Unipart, Owens & Minor and others who see the value in our approach and perhaps to them it is obvious. The project results have received awards by industry analysts, magazines and thought leading conferences for the past three years plus and still it isn’t obvious. The tipping point is fast approaching, though.

  74. phonon_moderator

    @fredwilson:disqus are websites and apps the best experience? I think the future is about not restricting to browsing and searching the visual web the way we are used doing today.I was thinking out loud on one way it could pan-out for e-commerce here:…Some of the searching, browsing we do needs to be delegated to something at the OS/Search level (a virtual PA, that is beginning to sound like a Google competitor)2 other interesting thoughts on the topic:- Can someone create a trustworthy service that takes feeds from opt-in apps and creates an index of in-app content to help aid discovery of apps and their content?- Can we do away with downloading and installing apps? There is of course a speed compromise, but still seems like the better approach to be able to sample something before committing to it and “installing” it

  75. Gabriel Bianconi

    I was going to comment, but I decided to write a blog post about this matter. Here’s my view on the subject: http://www.gabrielbianconi….TL;DR: This depends on the product’s needs. A mixed approach would also be interesting in some cases.

  76. jasonpwright

    mobile for the web could be the structural steel for NYC, creating a whole new dimension and opportunities.

  77. Gene Vayngrib

    Fred,The Mobile Web, straining to keep up with native apps, is inadvertently setting the stage for an innovation that is bigger than the Social Web. At the center of this change is a couple of kilobytes of code called backbone.js. You can check for an impressive array of major desktop and mobile sites using its code (scroll way down, on the home page, or search in-page for “USA Today”). The consensus is building that recent Mobile Web apps built on Backbone principles, like LinkedIn, actually work quite well. May be Facebook threw out the baby with the bathwater, by switching to native. Here is the change Backbone and its competitors catalysed:1. Backbone forces apps to talk to their servers using structured data (json). Markup cannot be easily synced with the server, but data can. Browser-side databases become a hub of new app design. User benefit: Browser-side databases allow to paint pages instantly.2. Backbone shifts all UI code to the browser side. A sophisticated [fat] client emerges. The need to communicate with a server on every user tap goes away.User benefit: Apps approach native speeds and gain the ability to work offline, while retaining their advantages over native apps: auto-updating, cross-device, no need for install, interlinking, social discovery.3. Backbone requires apps to declare data as a set of classes and forces it to use 4 RESTful CRUD operations for all types of data. This shifts the Web from Web Services, with dozens of Web APIs used mostly for third-party integration, to Web Databases where internal and third-party apps use a common tiny Web API.User benefit: Well behaved, higher quality apps. Possibility for mashups on steroids.Designed for developer productivity, Backbone delivers unexpected benefits to users. Yet its side-effect, an explosion of semantics, is starting a Web coup. Mobile Web Apps are rushing to expose their cloud data to a degree that makes micro-formats, rich snippets, Facebook’s Open Graph, pale in comparison. Big Data is rapidly moving to the surface of the Web.Live data models and generic protocol will facilitate the evolution of tooling, as in the client-server era. Good tooling drastically speeds up app dev and lowers the barrier to entry for developers, who will now need to think less about the code and more about domain models. This should do for app creation what WordPress did for blogs.What investment opportunities could this shift present? KPCB’s Mary Meeker on slide 55 of her State-of-the-Internet deck (… says: “If Facebook can create a ‘front-end’ to massive amounts of largely new & personal big data, in spite of huge initial resistance to ‘sharing’ – think what can come to pass with front-ends and connections to most types of data over the next 10 years.”If I view the changes spawned by the Mobile Web in light of Mary’s intuition, I can describe an investment opportunity as Mutual Data. If the Social Web was about users sharing, Mutual Data is about apps sharing. Not just sharing by exchanging data, but sharing a web database. Backbone apps figured the web database part already. What remains is setting a dial for shared data ownership somewhere in between the public and private ends of the spectrum. Facebook found that middle ground for new & personal data and so did the online games. Drawing inspiration from Second Life, we can imagine a large number of users and apps interacting within a persistent world, a world which evolves due to changes made by all other users and apps.One immediate application of Mutual Data could be a new Smart Cities platform, where government services are co-produced with the community, based on shared ownership of Open Data. In particular, Mutual Data would be a better way to coordinate natural disaster response efforts than a hodge-podge of isolated apps and organizations.

    1. fredwilson

      cool. i will learn more about this.

  78. Guest


  79. falicon

    I agree with most of this…especially the overall point…but you buried the lead at the end! The real money thoughts are:”Time is the gating factor.I want apps/sites/tech that I interact briefly with online to create offline personal, community connections.”…”Those are all nice, but I still love the simple, brief online tool that creates rich offline, in-person experiences.”+100 🙂

  80. Matt A. Myers

    “Make yourself a wifi hotspot and boom–devices around you have the Times and you’re their library. Whatever app–that’s a lame example but makes the point.”This is actually the perfect use case example.

  81. Elia Freedman

    I disagree that mobile design is just a compacting of the PC. In fact, I’d argue it is very very different. Rethinking the interactions and expectations of a consumer on the go is very different then when sitting in front of a desktop or laptop computer with a full keyboard and mouse.In fact, I would argue that this is one of the worst things about (many) mobile websites. They don’t rethink the experience. They just cram the thing down into a smaller screen. (Funny, Charlie, you even say that further below. Don’t shrink. Rethink.)

  82. fredwilson

    Nice spec Charlie!

  83. Dave W Baldwin

    Your ramble is right.

  84. ShanaC

    I don’t like the idea of smartphone as compacting a pc. It doesn’t work, it doesn’t scale well up or down. the body has its limitations, and so does usability.

  85. Matt A. Myers

    Attention fatigue, jaded, etc.. I’m there too. I really don’t even use apps. I’ll use the ones I develop though. I think I’m just really picky and hate bad design. Plus, I’m lazy, so things need to be easy and fluid …

  86. Kirsten Lambertsen

    I hate apps. I hate app stores. Seriously. Gate keepers. A pox on app stores.

  87. falicon

    This just might be the best comment ever! Nothing more needs to be said for sure 😉

  88. andyidsinga


  89. Matt A. Myers

    I’m intrigued by what I’ve read / seen as well, though I’m not sure if all use cases have been tested well-enough to start converting or putting eggs in that basket. I’m tempted to try it out, though. And there are lots of quality javascript programmers.

  90. William Mougayar

    what happened to your favicon Charlie?

  91. ShanaC

    you mean web-kit?

  92. William Mougayar

    I missed the joke. Comments are fast and furious on this thread. Delete what?

  93. Elia Freedman

    Thanks for clarifying, Charlie. I mis-understood.

  94. Matt Farnand

    This is very “Eastern Standard Tribe”! (Great Cory Doctorow book) It will happen…eventually. But in the short term I’d say we are in for much more standardization on current hardware and moving towards shared development tools and API.

  95. Wavelengths

    I think the mobile users are different as well. They may have a computer that they turn on very rarely, so most of their web experience is through the phone.I read that the number 1 item kids wanted for back-to-school this year was a smartphone. Not your average adult geek. 🙂

  96. Dave W Baldwin

    You’re welcome. BTW, we are moving into 1:1 so the next year of prep ought to be interesting.

  97. falicon

    I’m not against full stack js…just not the medium I’m currently working in/with (and no personal strong desire to move that direction…yet). 😉

  98. Drew Meyers

    1000% agree. I use specific apps that provide utility on my phone — I don’t want/need more apps to waste my time.

  99. Matt A. Myers

    Agreed – it feels pretty epic, surreal almost.

  100. Wavelengths

    With lattes and tapas at the pony express stations as refreshment for the waiting clients and the riders. Alfalfa for the ponies.

  101. andyidsinga


  102. fredwilson

    i am with you. but they are the reality we are in right now.