[I’m Reading] single-purpose apps work far better than single-purpose desktop websites

This is from Benedict Evans’ Mobile Newsletter No. 48. The comment is about Facebook’s launch of its “Paper” app; emphasis mine:

Facebook launched a new combined newsfeed and ‘clipboard-like news aggregator, ‘Paper’. This is the first output from Facebook Labs, which aims to produce more standalone apps. Paper is an interesting attempt to make Facebook’s core product on the desktop work properly on the much smaller canvas of mobile. But the more important thing is that Facebook is embracing unbundling in a systematic way. On a smartphone, it’s almost always easier to press the home button and launch another app than dig into an app’s own menu system – single-purpose apps work far better than single-purpose desktop websites. It’s also striking how aggressive and flexible Facebook is in response to mobile disruption (much like Google). Facebook will never have the same monopoly on mobile that it has on the desktop, but the opportunity may be so big that it doesn’t matter.


[I’m Reading] Try Everything

Posts with the label [I’m Reading] will be about articles I’m finding interesting. I often find things interesting even when I completely disagree with them. No lawyers approved this message.

The topic du jour among media pundits and pontificators: the new Glenn Greenwald venture, backed by the considerably deep-pocketed Pierre Omidyar.

The best commentary I’ve seen on this so far (as of this post, anyway) comes from the folks at The Monday Note, who have some thoughts on how the venture’s product portfolio might be developed.


Mobile should primarily be a news updating vector. In a developing story, say hearings on the NSA scandal, readers want quotes, live blogging, snapshots – all easy to grab while on the go. Addiction must be the goal.

Newsletters deserve particular attention. They remain an excellent vector to distribute news and a powerful traffic driver. But this requires two conditions: First, they must be carefully designed, written by human beings and not by robots. Second, they must be run like an e-commerce operation: a combination of mass emailing and heavy personalization based on collected navigation data. For an editorial product, this means mapping out granular “semantic profiles” in order to serve users with tailored contents. If the Omidyar-Greenwald project lives up to its promise, it will deliver a regular stream of exclusive stuff. A cleverly engineered email system (both editorially and technically) stands good chances to become a must-read.


On the product side, the motto should be Try Everything – on multiple segments and platforms.