Future of mobile-01

The Future of Mobile Growth

On the 27th of Feb 2016, I had a great opportunity to indulge in a meaningful discussion about “The Future of Mobile Growth” with a star-studded panel at Yahoo!

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Usually whenever I moderate a panel discussion, I have to worry about the set of questions to ask in the most coherent fashion, but here my job was simple. I had only one question to ask.

“What is the future of mobile growth”?

But, before we got started, it was important to define “future” (highly subjective).

Since the space is very dynamic and is evolving at a rapid rate, the panelists agreed to call the next 6-12 months as “future”.

Over the next 20 odd minutes the panelists touched upon various methods that they reckon would be the future of acquiring and retaining users on mobile.

Here is my attempt to summarise the top 3 that were discussed.

  1. Localisation:

In the Indian context, this was one of the top bets.

The panelists strongly believed that vernacular languages are going to play a huge role in the digital ecosystem, especially mobile.

A report released by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) claims that local language internet users in India are growing at 47% year-on-year and has touched 127 million in June 2015.

We already see the market reacting to this phenomenon. Mobile phone manufacturers like Micromax and Karbonn providing multi-language support.

Companies like Quikr and Snapdeal are adding multi-language support to their mobile web.

The home grown messenger Hike has also added 8 indic language support for its app.

A significant chunk of the next 100-200 million mobile internet users in India are going to be local language users. Understanding their language preference and catering to it would definitely help increase our app’s adoption.

  1. Chat as a platform and/or Chatbots:

Chat has been perceived as a powerful tool/platform.

The colonisation of apps within a chat app versus an App-Store is something that has been discussed for quite some time now.

But has it come of age?

We all are aware of how WeChat has been able to do it. WeChat packs news, social media, payments, taxi booking, food ordering etc you name it and they have it.

Slack seems to have joined the party to ensure that their user base can be leveraged to the fullest.

While on one side we have apps being built within a chat-app, on the other we have the chat-bots. These chat-bots leverage chat/messaging to perform the desired operation.

This is a phenomenon that the panelists think will grow in the days to come.

Telegram announced its bot-store last June, and recently Facebook joined the party by announcing Messenger Bots in their event F8.

With low development cost and high reach to audience, apps within Chat-apps or chat-bots could be a serious consideration for all businesses.

  1. App discovery:

The panelists felt that there would be some serious innovation when it comes to how end users discover mobile apps.

Let’s be honest, we do not go into an App-Store and search for “taxi app”. We know if we want to download Uber or Ola or one of the others. Hence, fundamentally app-store search is broken!

Search yet happens on the browsers or through assistants(Siri/Google Now).

Hence, both Apple and Google have come up with deep-linking and app-indexing solutions to ensure that content within your app can be discovered from the web(even when the app is not installed).

However this requires mirroring your app content on the web or resorting to 3rd party services that can mirror your app on their website, such as Branch Deepviews.

But, Google is trying to tackle this problem by allowing users to stream your app directly from their servers. In a trial run Google allowed users to try the mobile app directly from browsers for 10 minutes.

Sounds great, but can Google do this for iOS apps?

This seems like an exciting space with a bunch of innovations to come. We as app developers or owners need to keep an ear to the ground to embrace it.

Take a look at Branch’s Universal Object that provides better mechanism to deep-link and index both your iOS and Android apps.  

Overall it was an exciting panel discussion where I believe everyone left the room at-least an ounce smarter than when they arrived.

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