OPW INTERVIEW - Nov 11 - Mobile is starting to gain more attention from dating site owners as a method to enhnace the member experience and generate additional revenues. Recently, Courtland Brooks conducted an interview with Brendan O'Kane, CEO of messmo on the status of mobile applications and online dating. - Mike Baldock
Define “Mobile” in the context online dating (what is it, what should it do)?
The average member spends less than 10% of their day at a PC. Mobile is about reaching members the other 90% of the time and letting them stay up to date with what is happening to them personally. Mobiles are a really personal device and the member experience should reflect this.
Historically, Mobile solutions have failed to deliver a rich end user experience...why is this and do you see this changing?
A mobile experience is not trying to take 100% of a site's functionality and cram onto a small screen. So the best experience has to be timely, personal and directly relevant to them - and it has to be easy to use! A mobile user will not stand for stepping through 5 layers of menus, and while they will buy things on mobile, they do not like having to pay to receive information on mobile.
Applications are a critical component in Mobile technology...compare the differences between web based mobile applications and native applications?
Good question. Mobile is in a state of change - wonderful native Apps like those on the iPhone, and yet virtually no site can afford to develop a native App for every platform. Hence Web Apps are attractive as they deliver an instant user experience without the download barrier and at a fraction of the cost. Over time mobile Web Apps will become richer and richer.
What should dating site owners consider when contemplating (when developing in-house or outsourcing) a mobile strategy for their site?
The critical issue is there is no single unifying platform like Windows. Hence on mobile look for strategies that are low cost and cross platform, plus offer monetisation options. A "hero App" like an iPhone App can be good for the brand, but recognise why you are doing it, and adopt low cost, easy to deliver solutions across the rest of the mobile universe. Handsets and data speeds are changing so fast, that the wrong big investment spend today, will require big maintenance and re-investment spend tomorrow.
You mentioned monetisation?
Yes, mobile is one of the greatest billing platforms ever invented. Carriers are realising that and so they are increasing their payouts and revenue shares. Plenty of third parties are now offering terrific payment solutions and this will only get better. Apple has announced in App billing. If you look at the success of mobile as a payment device in Korea, you see where what an enormous opportunity this is. So I don't think you can build a mobile strategy without thinking about payment solutions.
The “online” experience is shifting very quickly to the “mobile” experience, how do you see the two augmenting each other over the next 5 years?
They will complement each other very well - because we are on mobile so much, it will be the primary communications tool, so sites need to run with that and deliver targeted personal communications experiences. The PC will still be the home of extensive searching, browsing and profile updates as well as communications when the user is at their desk. The statistics though are that the average person with a phone is 90% more likely to be reached on mobile than a PC.
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