Why Build Mobile-First Social Networks?
Most of our favorite social networks, save Pinterest (crossing my fingers a mobile app will hit Android soon), are available on our mobiles, but they probably didn’t start out that way.
Three of the most widely used social networking sites — Twitter, Facebook and YouTube — launched on the web and crossed over to mobile due to demand for connectivity on the road, but as more people look to their smart phones to stay connected, the number of mobile-first networks is growing.
“Mobile-first is the direction that many social networks are headed,” said Holger Luedorf, head of business development at foursquare, “If done right, such services start to feel ‘baked into’ the phone itself.”
Niche networks, like Flud, Everyme and Path, that have gone mobile-first are able to skip some of the roadblocks — clutter and the need to appease users with streamlined web and mobile functionality — that web-first companies face as they try to shrink down to mobile. When building mobile-first, “you’re freed from worrying about so many of the things that you have to think about when it comes to Web development,” said Oliver Cameron, founder at Everyme, an app that creates private news feeds for you and groups of your contacts.
Plus, on mobiles there is a defined audience. Rather than trying to reach everyone and anyone on the web, you can market to the users on your platform. App stores allow users to search for apps by functionality and name, but they also feature apps — essentially a billboard advertisement for the application, setting it apart from similar apps and bringing it to a potential customer’s immediate attention.
Although there is a demand for mobile-first networks like foursquare and Instagram to have a web-presence and user dashboard, these companies essentially use their web-based counterparts to encourage people to download their apps.
“For decades, the center of computing has been the desktop, and software was modeled after the experience of using a typewriter,” said Georg Petschnigg, contributing creator of Paper, a new sketchbook app for the iPad. “But technology is now more intimate and pervasive than that. We have it with us all the time and we have to reimagine innovative new interfaces and experiences around that.”
sources: nytimes.com, netmagazine.com, allthingsd.com
image source: reliablenetworks.co.uk