Niagara Gazette

Web Extra

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 | Photo Reprints
Web Extra
  • Vader Darth Vader is polling higher than all potential 2016 presidential candidates

    On the other hand, with a net favorability of -8, Jar Jar is considerably more popular than the U.S. Congress, which currently enjoys a net favorability rating of -65.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Screen Shot 2014-07-22 at 2.00.42 PM.png VIDEO: Train collides with semi truck carrying lighter fluid

    A truck driver from Washington is fortunate to be alive after driving his semi onto a set of tracks near Somerset, Ky., and being struck by a locomotive, which ignited his load of charcoal lighter fluid.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • An oncologist uses scorpion venom to locate cancer cells

    Olson, a pediatric oncologist and research scientist in Seattle, has developed a compound he calls Tumor Paint. When injected into a cancer patient, it seems to light up all the malignant cells so surgeons can easily locate and excise them.

    July 22, 2014

  • mama.jpg What we get wrong about millennials living at home

    If the media is to be believed, America is facing a major crisis. "Kids," some age 25, 26, or even 30 years old, are living out of their childhood bedrooms and basements at alarmingly high numbers. The hand-wringing overlooks one problem: It's all overblown.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Lindley, Tom.jpg Expectations too high for a rehabbing Woods

    Tiger Woods finished near bottom last weekend at Royal Liverpool, drawing out his drought of major tournament wins. Despite the disappointing showing, Woods' return to form remains a matter of when, not if.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • 110720 Walmart.jpg Wal-Mart to cut prices more aggressively in back-to-school push

    Wal-Mart Stores plans to cut prices more aggressively during this year's back-to-school season and will add inventory to its online store as the chain battles retailers for student spending.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hospitals let patients schedule ER visits

    Three times within a week, 34-year-old Michael Granillo went to the emergency room at Northridge Hospital Medical Center in Los Angeles because of intense back pain. Each time, Granillo, who didn't have insurance, stayed for less than an hour before leaving without being seen by a doctor.

    July 22, 2014

  • Sparring justices find little disagreement at the opera

    Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg revealed a different view of U.S. Supreme Court on Saturday when she described about her passion for opera, one she shares with Justice Antonin Scalia.

    July 22, 2014

  • Starved Pennsylvania 7-year-old weighed only 25 pounds

    A 7-year-old Pennsylvania boy authorities described as being so underweight he looked like a human skeleton has been released from the hospital.

    July 22, 2014

  • NIA Biz Column art 1 072114 Electric cars will get charge out of new IBEW 237 battery station

    Those who drive electric cars now have a free location to stop and charge their batteries, thanks to a new charging station recently built at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local Union 237 at 8803 Niagara Falls Blvd. Beside offering free charging, the stations gave a class of apprentice electricians a chance to learn how to assemble the stations. "We think it's a great training tool," said Russ Quarantello, a business manager for the union.

    July 21, 2014 4 Photos

Featured Ads
House Ads
AP Video
Six Indicted in StubHub Hacking Scheme Former NTSB Official: FAA Ban 'prudent' EPA Gets Hip With Kardashian Tweet Bodies of MH17 Victims Arrive in the Netherlands Biden Decries Voting Restrictions in NAACP Talk Broncos Owner Steps Down Due to Alzheimer's US, UN Push Shuttle Diplomacy in Mideast Trump: DC Hotel Will Be Among World's Best Plane Crashes in Taiwan, Dozens Feared Dead Republicans Hold a Hearing on IRS Lost Emails Raw: Mourners Gather As MH17 Bodies Transported Robot Parking Valet Creates Stress-free Travel Raw: Fight Breaks Out in Ukraine Parliament Disabled Veterans Memorial Nearing Completion Last Mass Lynching in U.S. Remains Unsolved Home-sharing Programs Help Seniors Ex-NYC Mayor: US Should Allow Flights to Israel
Opinion
House Ads
Night & Day
Twitter News
Follow us on twitter
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Front page