According to Cisco Systems, by the end of this year, the number of mobile-connected devices will exceed the number of people on earth. And of course, there is the increasing numbers of people who are now accessing the Internet via mobile devices, be they phones, tablets or phablets.
Around the world, people are ditching desktops and laptops in favor of mobile devices, enjoying access to countless of apps designed specifically for small touch-screens and people on the go. This means that companies like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn have to move fast or risk missing out on the next big thing.
So, how is mobile innovation affecting admired online brands? Well, that depends on 1) how they are viewing the advancement in mobile technology – they can view this shift as an opportunity or as a threat – and 2) what they are doing about it.
When the makers of these popular sites see mobile technological advancement as an opportunity, then they think of ways of tapping into the novelties in order to bring better/tailored services to their clients/visitors/customers. This means, first of all, optimizing their websites so that they still look great when viewed in much smaller screens of mobile devices, and also integrating some touch-screen features to simplify navigation.
In some cases, popular websites have tried to use mobile innovation to their favor by introducing gadgets or apps.
Facebook has already made two such forays, without much success. In April, it teamed up with HTC to offer HTC First, which was fondly named the “Facebook Phone.” However, after six weeks of very poor sales, its price was marked down from $99 to 99 cents, and AT&T is reportedly considering pulling the plug on the project.
Similarly, the Facebook Home, an app designed to change an Android phone into a “Facebook Phone” has received poor ratings from users of the supported smartphones, such as Samsung’s GALAXY S III, S IV and Note II, and HTC’s One X and One X+.
On the bright side, the original Facebook app for iOS and Android driven devices is one of the most downloaded apps in both the App Store and Play Store. With this achievement, however, comes a challenge of monetizing the property, which is increasingly becoming one of Facebook’s major traffic doorways.
LinkedIn has a mobile app that is designed to give its users better access to its services, coupled with some exciting features (like a navigation feature that personalizes the user’s view based on previous use).
With the proliferation of apps are armies of dedicated users who are always giving feedback and suggesting ways in which they can be improved. And geeks behind the scenes are taking these recommendations and coding then into the next releases of these apps. At least so is the case with the LinkedIn app.
Twitter also made a good move when it created a mobile app for its users on iOS and Android driven devices, and improved the tailored service since day one to now offer key features its users beg to take advantage of while on the go.
One last thing that is beginning to emerge as a direct result of mobile innovation is the rise of “user-developers.” Some websites are now giving users leeway to develop extensions on some of their popular features. The pioneering ideas that emerge are taken on, and the creators are rewarded. This is perhaps one of the ways in which well-liked online brands are going to keep their users more engaged with them. As the old adage goes, if your clients are talking to you, then you can be sure they aren’t talking to your competitors.
In conclusion, the main advantage that popular websites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn have is that they are not merely websites; they are technological innovations per se in a different dimension. And so, the progression in the mobile market cannot become a threat to them unless credible competitors emerge to beat them on these platforms. And for now, even if they don’t do much, they will survive until trustworthy competitors begin to come into view on the mobile domain.