Peddling Trifles

Here’s Suster and Wilson on “Mobile First”.

Wilson’s post is the original, but Mark Suster does a better job on the discussion. Here’s what makes Mobile (capital ‘M’) so interesting to a tech VC:

Mobile has many attributes that are critical:

  • The devices are individual, not shared
  • They are location aware, which is important in personalizing the service offering
  • They are more likely to be the “bottom end of the sales funnel” or in other words close to “point of purchase.” If I am looking at movies on my mobile phone there is a higher chance I’m out-and-about and ready to buy tickets. I have talked with people in the industry who tell me that mobile movie sites convert ticket sales much higher than desktop websites.
  • They are limited in size. In some senses this might seem like a disadvantage. BUT … I’ve talked to a number of eCommerce sites that also report much higher conversion rates than standard web. The hypothesis is that the limited real estate forces less choice and therefore less distraction. This increases conversions of items shown to you.
  • They are often one click away from buying. It’s not pleasant handing over 30% margin to Apple when you sell stuff through the App Store. But on the other hand if you have a product with a very high gross margin (software, virtual goods, etc.) then this is often more than made up by higher conversion rates versus asking somebody for a credit card.
  • They occupy a lot of people’s leisure time. Therefore if your app is geared toward leisure activities (games, communications with friends, etc.) then mobile is awesome.

There’s a trend there and it captures quite a lot of the exciting, consumer-driven advances today: make it easier to consume products while consuming leisure. Mobile works best when exploiting people’s incredibly high discount rates. If you can be there at exactly the moment impulse strikes you’ve got a sale.

Eventually, mobile will mean the everlasting checkout snack line.

But that means mobile only works for trivial products and momentary experiences. Nobody is going to make any kind of big purchase on a whim like that.

And as a result, aside from map tools, I find the whole thing really uninteresting.

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