The Edmond Sun

Business

November 25, 2013

As mobile gadgets become bigger, some companies abandon websites altogether

WASHINGTON — The founders of online matchmaker Hinge were struggling to recruit potential daters when they decided in February to abandon their website to focus instead on mobile apps.

The company's core market of young singles is increasingly tethered to smartphones and other portable devices, the founders surmised, and use the gadgets for activities that can be done quickly while on the go.

"More and more people are using mobile as opposed to desktop [computers] for things like dating," chief executive Justin McLeod said. "That's where the world's going."

An increasing number of companies are developing mobile-first or mobile-only strategies that prioritize customers' experience on smartphones and tablets over desktop computers, which have long been the way most people access the Internet.

The amount of time spent accessing the Internet from desktop computers compared with smartphones has narrowed considerably in just the past year, according to ComScore, a Reston, Va.-based firm that tracks Web use.

In October 2012, Americans spent 511.9 million minutes accessing the Web from desktop computers, compared with 278.6 million minutes on smartphones, ComScore reported. The data do not include tablets.

This year, the gap was significantly smaller. In October 2013, Americans spent 445.5 million minutes accessing the Internet from desktop computers, compared with 410.8 million minutes on smartphones.

Internet usage "has moved over toward smartphones and tablets at the expense of desktop. Going forward, we think people will connect to the Internet on a wide variety of devices," said Hadley Harris, the founding general partner of Eniac Ventures.

Founded in 2009, Eniac invests exclusively in companies that are in the early stages of developing mobile products. Its portfolio includes more than 30 companies, including Washington, D.C.-based Hinge.

"When we started out, we got a bunch of advice from experienced [venture capitalists] that we worked with that our strategy was too niche and should be broader," Harris said. "But these days it's rare to see a company that isn't mobile first."

But different hardware is just a small piece of the shift underway. People generally use their smartphones in different locations, for different lengths of time and to complete different tasks than they would use a desktop computer.

Unlike other dating sites, for example, Hinge doesn't ask customers to sift through hundreds of profiles — a task more easily done on a computer. Instead, the app taps into social networks to recommend a handful of potential mates each day.

"It takes a couple minutes. It's a very quick interaction that you can do from anywhere, so it makes sense to do on the phone," Harris said.

But with a limited amount of screen space on mobile devices, particularly smartphones, and a shorter consumer attention span, companies that take a mobile-first or mobile-only approach are forced to winnow the features they offer.

That's the challenge D.C. entrepreneur Neil Kataria encountered when he created PriceSpotting, an app that allows people to compare the prices of merchandise such as laundry detergent or bottled water at nearby stores.

"It forced us to focus on the most important features for a consumer. When you do that, you really sift through the fluff and you simplify the experience for the consumer," Kataria said.

PriceSpotting doesn't have a complementary website, Kataria said, in part because consumers are increasingly starting to research potential purchases on their smartphones before they ever step foot in a store or sit down at a desk.

"Consumers and businesses are changing their strategies before our eyes," Kataria said. "The folks who can keep up and move the fastest and be agile are the ones who are going to really stand out a year from now."

But for all the buzz around mobile, desktop computers aren't disappearing overnight. Millions of workers still sit in front of one for eight hours a day and then go home to one.

Raj Aggarwal, founder and chief exeucutive of Localytics, an analytics and marketing firm for mobile apps, said that some companies create both Web sites and mobile apps, just not necessarily in that order.

"If you have the benefit of starting from scratch and you don't have a legacy business to support, develop on mobile, and once you're ready there, then expand to the Web," Aggarwal said.

The Internet is becoming more app-like, he said, even when tapped through a computer. As a result, the technological tools and strategies used to create mobile apps are more applicable than ever to ordinary websites.

"Both are big channels, important channels," Aggarwal said.

1
Text Only
Business
  • psc 1.jpg City likely to borrow less for PSC due to sky-high tax revenue

    During his State of the City Address Edmond Mayor Charles Lamb made a political announcement — he’s planning on running again for the office.
    Lamb made the comments in the question-and-answer session of his presentation during an Edmond Area Chamber of Commerce luncheon at Rose Creek Golf Course, 17031 N. May Ave.
    Mayor pro tem from 2005-2011, Lamb was elected mayor last year. His long record of service in Edmond includes serving on the City Council from 1993 to 2011.
    The question about if he will run again came from the audience. Lamb alluded to his desire to be around when the Public Safety Center is finished, which will be in the fall of 2015; the next mayoral election will be in the spring of 2015.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Dr. Fielding’s variance denied by close vote

    Reverse-angle parking will continue at the 13 N. University Drive office of Dr. Brad Fielding. The Edmond City Council rejected a variance request by the local optometrist to end the city’s pilot project in front of his medical facility.
    Councilman Nick Massey and Councilwoman Victoria Caldwell supported Fielding’s variance request that was dismissed in a 3-2 vote.
    Four parking lines were striped late last year at Fielding’s business after the city opened new bicycle lanes along University. The city cites the safety for bicyclists and motorists who traditionally depart while backing into traffic as the main reasons for introducing reverse-angle parking.

    April 15, 2014

  • brisket2.jpg Food Network show visits Guthrie for ’89er Days

    Guthrie’s annual ’89er Days Celebration provides a variety of activities for people to enjoy including a carnival, rodeo, parade and lots of food vendors.
    This year, visitors at the 84th annual event, which runs Tuesday through Saturday, will notice an added bonus when a film crew from the new television series “Carnival Eats” will be in town filming for its inaugural episode.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • jc_TOUCH THE CLOUDS.jpg OSBI grounds voted locale for new sculpture

    City staff is working toward an agreement with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation Lab to place the “Touch the Clouds” bronze sculpture on the OSBI grounds on Second Street. The City of Edmond would retain ownership of the artwork.
    The Edmond City Council voted 4-1 this week to allow city staff to negotiate the agreement as soon as possible. Mayor Charles Lamb voted against pursuing the agreement.
    City Councilwoman Victoria Caldwell said she was initially interested in placing the sculpture near the Smith House because of it’s proximity to state Highway 66.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • 11 file for county offices

    Eleven candidates filed for Oklahoma County races last week with County Assessor Leonard E. Sullivan, 79 of Oklahoma City, re-elected to office without opposition, said Doug Sanderson, secretary of the Oklahoma County Election Board.
    Voters will nominate their party’s candidates on June 24 for the statewide primary election, Sanderson said. A run-off primary election is set for Aug. 26. The statewide general election is scheduled for Nov. 4.

    April 14, 2014

  • Why Facebook is getting into the banking game

    Who would want to use Facebook as a bank? That's the question that immediately arises from news that the social network intends to get into the electronic money business.

    April 14, 2014

  • Rally for Rigs OIPA hosts Rally for the Rigs

    The Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association this week hosted a “Rally for the Rigs” at the Oklahoma state Capitol.

    April 12, 2014 1 Photo

  • Watch China for the next economic trigger

    For my male readers out there, remember back to your teens and 20s when one of the primary goals was getting a date and finding a girlfriend? Oh come on! You can admit it.  Well imagine how it would have complicated matters if no woman would give you a second thought if you didn’t own property. No, not that old beat up car you drove and sometimes slept in. I mean real property, as in a house.

    April 11, 2014

  • Sunshine 1 Sun salutes Sunshine Award winners

    The Edmond Sun brought more than 100 businesses together April 4 for the annual Sunshine Awards breakfast at First Presbyterian Church of Edmond. Catering was provided by Sunshine Award winner Millie’s Table.

    April 11, 2014 2 Photos

  • Millions of Android phones, tablets vulnerable to Heartbleed bug

    Millions of smartphones and tablets running Google's Android operating system have the Heartbleed software bug, in a sign of how broadly the flaw extends beyond the Web and into consumer devices.

    April 11, 2014

Stocks