How to Build the Next Huge Mobile App

The advent and growth of social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and, now, Pinterest has heralded a new era in the Internet where people are connected to one another to share, discover, curate, and collaborate. The mobile applications are fast becoming the primary vehicle to access what I call “connected services” to discover people, information and entertainment. However unlike the intent oriented desktop Internet search, the mobile platform is about discovery. Thus the application developers would have to think differently about getting user attention and engagement.

User Time Slices

I view smart phones as bite-size infotainment consumption devices. Users launch different applications for short spurts during the day to interact live, get updates, transact, share experiences, and generally play. I call these 2-5 minute spurts “time slices” and examples of these time slices include waiting for a coffee, a short break from work, waiting for everyone to gather for a meeting etc. Users typically don’t have any fixed plans for these time slices and they like to discover infotainment through their applications. To build a mass market application, developers should consider two core factors: a unique discovery oriented infotainment experience and a bite-size time slice filler. An application that fits this paradigm would get huge user attention and engagement. Pulse News* is a great example of such an application. It allows users to discover news and information in a bite-size consumption format – you launch your Pulse when you have a few minutes and would like to be in the know.

How do you think about building the next large scale mobile app? I’m all ears.

* Lightspeed Portfolio Company

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2 Responses to How to Build the Next Huge Mobile App

  1. satnamg says:

    Ready to build one – write back and we could perhaps have a conversation.

  2. Anil says:

    Have not caught up for a while: good posts as always. Good article: however work-flows and use-modes evolve with the maturity of platforms. Case in point: early uses envisaged for the “desktop/personal computer”. The usage modality you highlight is applicable to the current app-market which, owing to very low barriers to entry, already has extremely low signal to noise ratios for good applications. Makes monetization a gargantuan challenge. An entrepreneurs’ focus should be on longer term use modalities for these platforms to intercept their evolution curve. The model of a successful return to stakeholders in companies lacking any viable fundamentals of revenue ,a truth applicable to the vast majority of app companies, will not last forever.

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