#KeysToMobileGrowth: Industry Check with Andrew Chen from Uber

By: Flurry

By: Toby Vogels (@tobyvogels), Mobile Developer Evangelist

In our latest #KeysToMobileGrowth edition, we talked to Andrew Chen from Uber about how to approach growth. We had another chat with him to discuss current tech & app growth trends. Read on for a mobile growth industry-review.


Anything in quotes below is attributed to Andrew Chen


Can tech leverage celebrities & brands?

With an explosive launch, Pokemon Go became the biggest mobile game ever and brought augmented reality to the mainstream. The tech world is looking for the recipe that made Pokemon Go such a success. How did Niantic do it? Andrew sees a few key drivers: “First, I think that most folks in tech still don’t quite get how to work with brands and celebrities. But if you’re able to figure it out, it can open up new dimensions for mobile growth: “Glu Mobile released a game that didn’t do really well. Then they added Kim Kardashian to it and it blew up. With Niantic we saw the same. With Ingress, they basically released Pokemon Go before and then added the popular brand to it. I think there’s something fundamental about brands that we’re still trying to understand and that can drive this massive growth.” On top of this, there’s the augmented reality aspect that makes the game so unique: “It was something that the public has never seen before. That automatically helped a lot.”


Engagement strategies to defy hype imputation

Engagement and time spent are often recognized as the ultimate success metrics for mobile apps. While critics feel that Pokemon Go’s ‘hype’ is over, it will be interesting to see if Niantic can keep their users engaged in the long run. Andrew sees potential engagement and growth drivers in more social features and (automated) messaging. ”As when you and I are both using Pokemon Go, I can see that you captured a rare Pokemon somewhere interesting. I could then ask you where you got the Pokemon, bookmark your location, and get a push notification when I’m near it. Another option would be to let the user subscribe to a number of different Pokemons and locations and then use email and push notifications to offer relevant information about them. Instead of following people on a feed, you would follow Pokemons or poke stops.” Another social opportunity sees Andrew in user-generated content: “They could allow users to build content such as walking routes. You could share them with other people and plan gaming sessions together.”


Are wearables the next growth channel?

As augmented reality made a huge step in user adoption last year, we’re curious to see if Wearables can follow the footsteps. Wearables have been revered as the next big tech innovation for quite some time now. But are they ready to become mainstream? “Wearables - at least the ones that you wear on your wrist – are so much about notifications right now. I think the question that I have is: How much are they just a notification channel for your phone and how much are they experiences by themselves? As they’re putting new sensors on the apple watch, it might start to make sense for health apps to actually build something directly for Apple Watch.”


All-in? Or pass the round?

Andrew sees user adoption as the core challenge right now. “The penetration of the platform is not high enough but it’s growing. It feels like we’ll get there over time.” So should companies invest in developing a watch app right now? “As a startup, you might be able to make the bet now, and maybe in three years, everyone will have watches and you have already developed a killer application by then. Larger organizations would calculate how many people are going to install and interact with it. And chances are that users would interact with their phone instead of a watch right now. I still see a lot of question marks there. However, platforms like Chrome, Youtube, Pinterest, and Dropbox have become part of users’ workflow and have aggregated hundreds of millions of users. Maybe wearables will eventually be able to do that as well.”


Industry trends & tech development outlook

Even if wearables haven’t become a mainstream use case yet, there are a lot of reasons to be excited about new platforms right now. “They’re a lot of platforms that are so new that we haven’t really thought that much about them. I have been thinking about how growth and paid acquisition would look like on VR. I think that’s one example for a new platform where there’s a lot of uncovered potential. Before I joined Uber, I wrote a piece about how you could use advertising to subsidize Uber trips. Those sort of hyper local services are another new area that people still haven’t really figured out yet. As far as trends go, people are getting so much smarter. When I first got to the Bay Area, almost 10 years ago, investors were investing based on total registered users. Crazy, right? Today, the sophistication is so much higher. You can implement something like Flurry and quickly get so much information that would have taken a long time to custom develop. You would for instance have to build your own cohorts tool instead of conveniently getting a complete report from Flurry.”


What do you think about Andrew’s ideas? Tweet us @flurrymobile, using #KeysToMobileGrowth. Also, check out Andrew’s blog at andrewchen.co.

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