LinkedIn’s mobile strategy: Don’t be afraid

by David Needle

July 10 2013

"Mobile development is like nothing we've ever done in our life," says LinkedIn executive Deep Nishar.
"Mobile development is like nothing we've ever done in our life," says LinkedIn executive Deep Nishar.

One of the big reasons for social network LinkedIn’s success is its embrace of mobile technology.

SAN FRANCISCO - Deep Nishar, the Senior VP of Products and User Experience at LinkedIn says the company’s mobile apps have evolved because they had to, including three different iterations over the past 21 months.

“Mobile development is like nothing we’ve ever done in our life,” Nishar said in an onstage interview here at the MobileBeat conference. “What worked two years ago, doesn’t work anymore.”

Nishar knows from experience. Back in 2005 he headed up Google’s mobile group along with just a few other engineers. “Today you can’t do that when you have a material percentage of your users on mobile devices, he said.

For LinkedIn that’s a big number. Nishar says 30% of LinkedIn’s user base is on a mobile device at any one time.

Developers used to designing for the desktop might see mobile as a threat because it requires new ways of thinking, but Nishar says  the only productive way to view mobile is as a new opportunity. To that end, he gave LinkedIn’s developers a simple goal when developing its mobile apps, “Build it as if it’s a whole new experience of how to use LinkedIn.”

For professionals, Nishar said the desktop is still where LinkedIn sees the bulk of its traffic, but mobile is growing. The company has also been careful to design separately for smartphones versus tablets because, as Nishar is quick to emphasize, the two represent very different experiences.

Testing a new service – the network comes to you

While LinkedIn is a treasure trove of professional contacts and their backgrounds, the company’s been testing a new contacts app designed to bring more of the network to users.

For example, a To Do tab in the app features a daily update of what’s happening in your network, including significant changes among your connections such as a promotion or job change and birthdays.

“For people like me not in an outbound role (i.e. proactively looking to hire), this lets the network come to me,” said Nihsar.

LinkedIn is also making a big bet on content via such acquisitions as SlideShare and the Pulse personalized news reader.

“Content consumption on the iPad and devices is actually pretty high. We see content as part of a professional’s road to success,” said Nishar. He noted that SlideShare, the huge online repository of presentations, attracts tens of millions of visitors a month.

David Needle is the Editor of TabTimes and based in Silicon Valley.
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