As mobile technology has evolved, it’s become clear that (for the time being anyway) apps are here to stay. Whether we have 15 or 250 of them on our mobile devices, we are all constantly toggling through function-specific services that all solve basic problems we might have. We go to the Facebook app to see what our friends are up to; to the Yelp app to check out a new restaurant; to the Waze app to map our route and navigate through traffic; to the Zappos app to buy a pair of shoes; and so on.
As a result our mobile experience tends to be fragmented by these toggles in a way that the desktop web (with its direct linking) is not.
But this paradigm is starting to change. In recent months, mobile services have been working hard to streamline their offerings and facilitate connections between apps, eliminating friction in the user experience and facilitating on-demand commerce.
In the latest example of this, today local recommendations platform Foursquare is debuting a fresh set of these so-called “deep links,” with an integration through smart-connection platform Button that will allow users that develop intent to visit a nearby venue to seamlessly order an Uber cab to take them there. Button’s linking technology automatically pulls relevant information from the Foursquare app (the destination address), and orders a car to take the user from their current location to the one they just searched for.
Mike Jaconi, Button’s CEO, says these sorts of integrations are primed to proliferate, creating seamless paths from one app to another and bypassing traditional search tools that would take a user from an intent in one app to its fulfillment in another. The company has raised over $14 million in seed and Series A funding in its quest to implement this kind of deep-linking across a wide variety of mobile services..
“Apps today are largely wrappers around a single usage,” Jaconi told us in a recent interview. “But the challenge is that when you’re searching in an app, or consuming content in an app, or doing an activity in an app, you often develop an intent to go do something else. And because of limitations in the platforms today, getting that something else has become a pretty laborious process. If you’re watching a movie trailer, you may want to buy movie tickets; or if you’re reading a recipe, you may want to order the ingredients; or if you’re researching a venue and you want to go to that venue.”
Button’s platform is looking to draw a more distinct line between this intent and its fulfillment.
“Our idea is: ‘Let’s not show these users advertising,'” says Jaconi. “Advertising on mobile is so uninspiring. Let’s show them a really cool button that can then satisfy the end of the journey that the platform prefers the user to have.”
While app integrations like this can certainly facilitate local commerce and provide a richer user experience, they are also starting to change the dynamics of local search on mobile devices (a topic we’ll be covering in more depth in a panel tomorrow at Street Fight Summit West in San Francisco). As users can increasingly jump from app to app via smart links, their need for mobile portals and search engines diminishes — and mobile advertising naturally turns more to affiliate programs, where apps pay one another for lead generation.
Jaconi says that this kind of deep-linking is an inevitable part of mobile’s future, because apps can no longer be siloed: “You’re going to have to be able to have apps talk to each other, and you’re going to have to be able to search between apps,” he said. “And if you’re not, your experiences within these apps are not going to be as good.”
While it’s likely that this process of deep-linking may become commoditized as it proliferates, says Jaconi, ultimately the companies that can build commercial mechanics on top of deep linking can become viable and sustainable.
Learn more about deep linking at Street Fight Summit West tomorrow in San Francisco. Click here for more info and buy tickets now!