Investing in mobile web in a world dominated by native apps

So the trend is absolutely clear. While consumers spend more and more time on mobile versus desktop, when those consumers are on their mobiles devices, mobile app usage is killing it compared to the mobile web.

Graphic for Blog 

Smarter and older (J) investors have written about it recently, starting from the great post by Chris Dixon, and Fred Wilson’s response. The gist of it is – 1) this trend will only get stronger, and 2) because of the closed nature of the app stores, the amount of innovation will dwindle.

What the data is essentially telling us is that consumers no longer consider mobile web a separate experience, but almost like any another app on their phones with a separate set of functionalities that happens to be called “Safari” or “Chrome”. And in this new consumer mindset, the mobile web is an app we use quite often. The latest research from Flurry’s annual report shows we use mobile web for 22 minutes a day on average. The only other “app” we use more often is Facebook, where we spend 24 minutes a day. And if tack on the time spent on Facebook’s mobile browser – there is probably another nice chunk of time spent consuming mobile web.

So – shouldn’t the second most used “app” in the world be able to attract at least a few good entrepreneurs who are truly innovating in the space. And what needs innovation? I believe it is tools that make mobile web a more relevant platform – monetization and development. We are still on the lookout for development platforms that can make mobile web more relevant for certain sectors. A good example of that, which I had the ability to see up close at the previous fund I worked at, is Duda Mobile. It doesn’t make sense for every SMB to have their own app, but they do need a searchable mobile presence. On the monetization innovation side, I think the app stores have shown that if there is money to be made, developers will be there.

As opposed to new platform development, or tools for apps,  , on mobile web, it is actually quite simple to show that new monetization tools / drivers have been created. When we met Errnio, a company that is creating a whole new category around “gesture monetization”, we found the concept quite unique. Now, after having invested and seen the company execute for the last 3 months, we believe they have the potential to be a real game changer. Gestures around mobile are a very strong form of “intent”, and intent should equal more personalized, relevant and actionable insights. And all of those should make for a more monetizable mobile web where more is being built and developed.

We are continuing to look for more opportunities in this “un” innovative space. If you hear of anything exciting, send our way!

Lior Prosor