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  1. #1
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    [EN] The decline of the mobile web

    Resources are going to app development over web development



    People are spending more time on mobile vs desktop:







    And more of their mobile time using apps, not the web:






    This is a worrisome trend for the web. Mobile is the future. What wins mobile, wins the Internet. Right now, apps are winning and the web is losing.

    Moreover, there are signs that it will only get worse. Ask any web company and they will tell you that they value app users more than web users. This is why you see so many popups and banners on mobile websites that try to get you to download apps. It is also why so many mobile websites are broken. Resources are going to app development over web development. As the mobile web UX further deteriorates, the momentum toward apps will only increase.

    The likely end state is the web becomes a niche product used for things like 1) trying a service before you download the app, 2) consuming long tail content (e.g. link to a niche blog from Twitter or Facebook feed).

    This will hurt long-term innovation from a number of reasons:

    1) Apps have a rich-get-richer dynamic that favors the status quo over new innovations. Popular apps get home screen placement, get used more, get ranked higher in app stores, make more money, can pay more for distribution, etc. The end state will probably be like cable TV – a few dominant channels/apps that sit on users’ home screens and everything else relegated to lower tiers or irrelevance.

    2) Apps are heavily controlled by the dominant app stores owners, Apple and Google. Google and Apple control what apps are allowed to exist, how apps are built, what apps get promoted, and charge a 30% tax on revenues.

    Most worrisome: they reject entire classes of apps without stated reasons or allowing for recourse (e.g. Apple has rejected all apps related to Bitcoin). The open architecture of the web led to an incredible era of experimentation. Many startups are controversial when they are first founded. What if AOL or some other central gatekeeper had controlled the web, and developers had to ask permission to create Google, Youtube, eBay, Paypal, Wikipedia, Twitter, Facebook, etc. Sadly, this is where we’re headed on mobile.
    http://cdixon.org/2014/04/07/the-dec...he-mobile-web/


    Google and Apple control what apps are allowed to exist, how apps are built, what apps get promoted, and charge a 30% tax on revenues.

  2. #2
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    crueber
    The sky is falling, the sky is falling! ..oh, wait, this is just the second iteration of the switch from server back to client. This happened with thin clients, it’s happened with the web. We’ll see how long it takes for people to come back to realizing all the advantages of a single centralized application platform that is always up to date.




    Mɐx Bulger
    Definitely agree we’re wasting valuable time and engineering effort designing around the artificial constraints of Apple and Google’s sandboxes. The result is bad for innovation, and its bad for users. It’s possible it was necessary to tightly control the transition to mobile at first, but the world is very ready for a more open ecosystem.




    Ivan Kirigin
    Another factor not discussed is the feedback loop of dominant platforms on engineering teams building products. Even if smaller teams want to deploy everywhere, they need to pick their targets. They will go where the dominant audience is. This is actually *why* mobile web experiences can be so much worse than desktop web or native apps. People choose the latter for their focus because the payoff is greater.

    Then mobile web has a worse consumer experience, worse engagement, and then matters less as a platform. Rinse, repeat…




    Florian Bösch
    This conclusion is demonstrably false. For apps to “win” you’d have to replace every website in existence with an App. The explosion of Apps is already burdening down the walled garden app-stores where you can’t find anything worth downloading. If you propose a future where everybody instead of publishing a website, publishes an App, this basically would basically kill mobiles entirely. You can go straight back to dumbphones that can’t do anything after “apps have won”.





    Andi Plantenberg
    It’s a very good point. The primary issue being the freedom and fairness of availability. Net neutrality for apps.




    Michael
    Something which is not mentioned here is that JS needs a large amount of resources and we are far away from native app speed on mobile devices due to barriers in CPU speed, amount of RAM, and battery constraints.




    Chris Sutton
    There are two things about the Flurry time share data that are crucial to understand before painting an accurate picture.

    1) What is the actual time spent on mobile web and mobile apps, not just share of time?

    If actual time spent is rising overall — which I assume is true — then the mobile web may still be growing significantly even if the share of time compared to apps is shrinking. People are consuming video (Netflix, Youtube) and playing games (Angry Birds, Candy Crush etc.) at astounding rates, and that will sway the share of time metric toward apps, even if most of the “traditional” web browsing continues to happen in a mobile browser.

    2) Is the time spent using an in-app browser considered to be an app or web?
    Facebook (and Twitter) are a huge presence in mobile app usage, but both send a lot of mobile traffic to shared links. Large companies (Buzzfeed, Upworthy etc.) have been built primarily off of Facebook traffic, and these sites are squarely mobile web but likely show up in this data as time spent in an app.

    I don’t disagree with the concern toward closed models, but I don’t think the data presented can accurately gauge how much of a concern this is at the moment.




    Sean
    While I agree with the general sentiment, I don’t think that it is as simple as “the web is open, apps are not”. It is true that Apple and Google exert editorial control over the apps available on their stores, but on the web Google and Facebook control the vast majority of the traffic. Changes to the Google search algorithm or the Facebook newsfeed can cause entire categories of sites to virtually disappear. Yes, you can still host your website but if no one finds it what is the difference?
    The reality is that the internet has been calcifying over the past 5 years with more and more control held by fewer and fewer companies. Just like with the telephone and railroads, new technologies can boom and grow but when they start to mature you see consolidation at the top. We need a new wave of innovation or other changes to prevent both the web and apps from losing their freedom.




    Sid Yadav
    In the late 90s, when Microsoft was going through its anti-trust phase, I wonder how many people would have been okay with a “Windows App Store”. Fast forward a decade, and no one seems to care about Google and Apple’s walled gardens. If Apple decides to enforce its App Store for installing apps on the Mac one day, I wonder if any argument we use against them would stand. We’ve now accepted this precedence on mobile, so we’re hardly allowed to reject their motives on the desktop.
    It would be hard to argue that the Web has enabled anything but free speech. App stores have done the opposite, and no one cares because the developers get paid.
    Última edição por 5ms; 08-04-2014 às 10:39.

  3. #3
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    Gaming rules the app stores



    One thing Apple, Amazon and Google share in common: gaming rules their app stores. But after that, people tend to download different categories of apps based on the device that they are using.

    Gaming apps accounted for around 41% of downloads from the Apple and Google stores, and was 61% on Amazon, according to data from Distimo that was analyzed by Statista. That’s where it gets different: For iOS and Amazon devices, entertainment apps were the next most downloaded category, while in the Google Play store it was communication.

    Each store has a unique category in its top five, and it is almost cliché. For Apple, popular with media-toting devotees like photographers and artists, it is video and photo. For Google, which uses the highly customizable Android operating system, it is tools — think unique keyboards and system utilities. For Amazon, it is kids and education. (The Kindle Fire, apparently, is the tablet of choice for parents to give to the kids.)
    http://blogs.wsj.com/digits/2014/04/...gree-on-games/

  4. #4
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    Can Facebook Innovate? A Conversation With Mark Zuckerberg

    On desktop where we grew up, the mode that made the most sense was to have a website, and to have different ways of sharing built as features within a website.

    But I think on mobile, people want different things.




    By FARHAD MANJOO
    April 16, 2014

    For my column this week about Facebook’s new approach to creating social apps, I spent some time talking to Mark E. Zuckerberg, the company’s co-founder and chief executive. We met in a conference room at Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., on a sunny Friday earlier this month.

    After chatting briefly about virtual reality — he described his visit to Stanford’s virtual reality lab, which I’d recently tested out — he explained how Facebook is altering how the company creates and releases new apps.

    Here is an edited transcript of our interview.


    Q. Can you tell me about Creative Labs?

    A. So Facebook is not one thing. On desktop where we grew up, the mode that made the most sense was to have a website, and to have different ways of sharing built as features within a website. So when we ported to mobile, that’s where we started — this one big blue app that approximated the desktop presence.

    But I think on mobile, people want different things. Ease of access is so important. So is having the ability to control which things you get notifications for. And the real estate is so small. In mobile there’s a big premium on creating single-purpose first-class experiences.

    So what we’re doing with Creative Labs is basically unbundling the big blue app.



    Q.
    But it’s not just unbundling features that you already have in the app. Isn’t it also about creating new kinds of experiences that you don’t have in the app? Was there a sense that the way you were doing things before wasn’t creating new experiences, and this sort of structure will?

    A.
    I don’t know if I would view it as that binary. I think you’ll see a combination of us making some of these things that have been products for a while into first-class experiences. And you’ll see us exploring new areas that we felt we didn’t have the room to do before.



    Q.
    Over the last couple years you’ve done some big new things like Home and Graph Search that didn’t really work. And the other thing you’ve done is bought a lot of companies that do seem to have worked, like Instagram and WhatsApp. Are you creating enough new stuff? How do you feel about how innovative Facebook is?

    A.
    With Graph Search, I think that modern search products have so much built into them that we knew it was going to be a five-year investment before we got anything really good and different. So far we’ve done these milestones. The first one was that we were able to search over structured connections on Facebook. That was important as a consumer product and also as infrastructure that we are using inside the company. The next focus is searching posts. All of this has been on desktop, and the real push is mobile. So I’m not that worried about it. I think the real question will be how effective it will be on mobile once post-search works. I think that’s a five-year thing. We have to think about it over a longer period of time.

    With Home, the reception was much slower than we expected. But it was a riskier thing. It’s very different from other apps, let’s say Paper or Messenger. For those, you install it, and if it’s useful you’ll go back to it and use it. Home is your lock screen. When you install it, it’s really active, and if it does anything that you don’t like, then you’ll uninstall it.

    The other thing that is important context to keep in mind is that, to some extent, most of these new things that we’re doing aren’t going to move any needles in our business for a very long time. The main Facebook usage is so big. About 20 percent of the time people spend on their phone is on Facebook. From that perspective, Messenger or Paper can do extremely well but they won’t move any needles.



    Q.
    On the other hand, WhatsApp is huge — huger than Facebook’s Messenger. And you bought that because you think it will move the needle someday. So, tell me about that acquisition, but also tell me: Why couldn’t Facebook invent that? Do you worry that Facebook didn’t invent that?

    A.
    Well, so there are a bunch of things here. One thing is that Facebook Messenger is actually a really successful thing. More than 10 billion messages a day that flow through Facebook’s messaging products. But I think we basically saw that the messaging space is bigger than we’d initially realized, and that the use cases that WhatsApp and Messenger have are more different than we had thought originally. Messenger is more about chatting with friends and WhatsApp is like an SMS replacement. Those things sound similar, but when you go into the nuances of how people use it, they are both very big in different markets.

    I think you want to look at the things that we do in three stages. First, there’s Facebook the app. A billion people or more are using it, and it is a business.

    Next there’s Instagram, WhatsApp, Messenger, Search — these are use cases that people use a lot, and they will probably be the next things that will become businesses at Facebook. But you want to fast-forward three years before that will actually be a meaningful thing.

    Then there are things that are nascent, that we’re inventing from scratch, like Home, Paper or any of the other Creative Labs work we’re going to do. Maybe in three to five years those will be in the stage where Instagram and Messenger are now.

    So what we want to do is build a pipeline of experiences for people to have. It would be a mistake to compare any of them in different life cycles to other ones. They’re in different levels.



    Q.
    Instagram and WhatsApp are not going to be branded as Facebook apps. So eventually part of your business will be apps that people don’t think of as Facebook. Is that the way to think about the future of Facebook. Is it like a conglomerate?

    A.
    One of the things that we’re trying to do with Creative Labs and all our experiences is explore things that aren’t all tied to Facebook identity. Some things will be, but not everything will have to be, because there are some sets of experiences that are just better with other identities. I think you should expect to see more of that, where apps are going to be tied to different audiences that you can share with.



    Q.
    We’ve seen a number of apps that are playing with anonymity, and apps like Snapchat that are ephemeral. Are those modes interesting to you? Do you expect Facebook will do things with anonymity?

    A.
    I don’t know. I do think more private communication is a bigger space than people realize. You were asking if I was surprised that WhatsApp and Messenger’s use cases were so different. They fit into this framework of private communication. That’s what people like to do, and that’s why there are so many different services. I think there is going to be even more stuff like that.

    Anonymity is different. I’m not going to say it can’t work, because I think that is too extreme. But I tend to think some of these interactions are better rooted in some sense of building relationships. There are different forms of identity you can use to form a relationship. You can use your real identity, or you can use phone numbers for something like WhatsApp, and pseudonyms for something like Instagram. But in any of those you’re not just sharing and consuming content, you are also building relationships with people and building an understanding of people. That’s core to how we think about the world. So anonymity is not the first thing that we’ll go do.



    Q.
    Can I ask one personal question? You’re turning 30 this year. And a number of these apps are being used by people who are way younger than that. When you started Facebook you were in the audience of people using Facebook. And now you’re not for apps like Snapchat or some of the newer kinds of apps. Do you feel like you are in touch with the audience that’s using some of these newer things?

    A.
    It’s not clear to me that when you look at younger folks or older folks that there’s any trend of apps starting in one audience and going on to be more mainstream. Pinterest’s early users were not tech people and not younger people, and it was very female-centric. Some of these other services might start with teens. But I think Twitter′s early strength wasn’t younger folks. One of the companies I think is the most interesting right now is Tesla. People have been trying to do electric cars for years. They realized that they could deliver a very high-quality product if they marketed it as an upscale thing.

    Oh, and most people who use Facebook have not been my age through the majority of my time here.

    But understanding who you serve is always a very important problem, and it only gets harder the more people that you serve. We try to pay a lot of attention to this by a combination of very rigorous quantitative and qualitative feedback. But if you’re serving 1.2 billion people, it’s very hard.

    And I think the age thing is probably not the biggest one I worry about. I’m focused on Internet.org and how to connect all these people. But my life is so different from the person who’s going to be getting Internet in two years. One of the things that we do is ask product managers to go travel to an emerging-market country to see how people who are getting on the Internet use it. They learn the most interesting things. People ask questions like, ‘It says here I’m supposed to put in my password — what’s a password?’ For us, that’s a mind-boggling thing.
    http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/0...ark-zuckerberg

  5. #5
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    Facebook reports first-quarter earnings after the close of New York trading

    The daily active user number was up 21% from a year earlier. The mobile DAU was up an even bigger 43% year-on-year. Monthly active users were up 15%, while mobile MAUs were up 34%.

    Daily active users: 802 million

    Monthly active users: 1.28 billion

    Mobile monthly active users: 1.01 billion

    Revenue from advertising was $2.27 billion. Like Google, Facebook is just as much an advertising company as anything else. Mobile advertising revenue made up 59% of the total ad revenue pie. In the fourth quarter, it was 53%, so that share is still growing. A year ago, it was 30%.

    http://blogs.wsj.com/digits/2014/04/...ings-and-call/

  6. #6
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    Hard realities about the mobile web

    Jouko Ahvenainen
    May 20, 2014

    Quantcast published its latest report on discovering content on mobile. According to the report apps dominate mobile content use. People use over 80% of their mobile time in apps. And apps drive also a lot of mobile browsing traffic, 24% of browsing traffic comes from apps. But only about 1,000 apps have more than 50,000 users, i.e. 0.1% of all apps. These numbers present hard realities about the mobile market.

    I have divided mobile apps into three categories: 1) stand-alone apps, 2) apps that are a part of service packages, and 3) marketing apps. The first category especially consists of those apps that are independent businesses, e.g. mobile games and sport apps. The second category includes apps that are a part of online content services, finance and travel services that are available also in the web, and also physical services like Uber. And the last one is, for example, retail, cafeteria or utility apps that are not really integrated to the core business. Of course, some apps can fit into several categories and categories also overlap.

    Mobile is becoming more important for all services, all the time. The role of tablets is growing even faster than smartphones. iPhone and iPad still lead mobile traffic, although there are far more Android devices. Now mobile stands for about 17% of all web traffic globally. Asia leads other continents in mobile traffic. This means mobile becomes important for all web services.

    Mobile content traffic is highly unequally distributed. Top social media apps (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest) and some content sites collect a significant amount of traffic. And a lot of traffic also comes from referrals from social media apps.

    All this means that basically every company must now think through its mobile strategy. I also wrote earlier that mobile is entering all businesses, not only online business. If we think about the current mobile traffic distribution, it looks like mobile can be much bigger challenge for many companies than web services and presence. Many businesses have a risk that a few companies can dominate it, when the business enters the mobile era.

    Mobile-only strategy for smaller companies and mobile newcomers can be the most difficult strategy to see a success in, if they don’t have something totally new and unique. It has been estimated that user acquisition price for a mobile app is now about $5. There can be much more opportunities for companies that can otherwise create a strong physical or online service and then expand also to mobile. Uber, Starbucks and some media companies and banks are good examples, how they have adapted mobile into an important part of their offering.

    The mobile revolution is happening now, and it is happening really rapidly in emerging economies. Everyone who wants to be a part of this change must act now. Otherwise the outcome can be that mobile services will be even further dominated by a few companies globally, than mobile content is now.

    Independent marketing type apps haven’t really worked. Mobile must be an integral part of the business, it cannot be left to a small development team or external digital agency, to create something fancy for mobile. My recommendation is to focus on mobile apps that are really integrated to the company’s online services and core business and how to get mobility to be a part of business concept.
    http://www.telecomasia.net/blog/cont...out-mobile-web

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