Re-imagining the mobile use case

While Apple has not listened to my complaints ...
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Google recently released the results of a new study on mobile search and conversions. Along with Nielsen, Google analyzed over 6,000 mobile searches and the actions that came after the search.

While there are quite a few interesting findings (including the fact that 55 percent of conversions occur within the first hour of the mobile search), the most significant takeaway for me is the fact that 77% of all mobile searches occur at home or at work; only 17% occur on the go (and 2% are in store). That means that more than three-fourths of all mobile searches are performed where a computer is also available to them.

Survey respondents said they chose mobile over desktop search for convenience and speed. The study quoted one respondent: ““It was easier on the mobile device as I didn’t have to get up [to] turn on the computer and wait for it to boot up.”

So, it appears that the shift to mobile that’s happening across all verticals is mainly a shift of devices, rather than the emergence of new use cases.

Think back three to four years ago when we all believed that the on-the-go use case would be the main driver for mobile. Yet on-the-go and in-store behaviors haven’t fully materialized. As the Google survey shows, mobile doesn’t necessarily mean “mobile.” We’re using tablets and smartphones while on the couch, in the kitchen, etc.

Take-away: re-imagine the mobile use case

What does this mean for startups? For starters, every web business needs to design a great mobile experience, as users will increasingly opt for a mobile device to access websites. The mobile experience should ideally be native for the particular device type and optimized for conversions on a small screen. In my opinion, this is where many apps fall short: they optimize their conversion funnel for a web experience and make mobile users return to a desktop to complete their activity.

But perhaps even more importantly, the Google survey makes it clear that major opportunities exist to build better on-the-go experiences. Frontdesk and Jobber, two portfolio companies in the vertical SaaS space, have built mobile-only solutions for managing a service business. But in many cases, we have not yet fully re-imagined the mobile-only or mobile-first experience.

However, with more mobile devices being sold than computers, it’s clear that there are countless opportunities for innovative mobile use cases in both the consumer and enterprise market. I for one am looking forward to seeing the next generation of mobile businesses.

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