Bill Gurley wrote a wonderful post last summer that detailed the differences between creating engaging user experiences on smart phones and on the web. He pointed out that these differences are not superficial and that in the past major differences in applications platforms, like the transition from DOS to Windows have led to significant restructuring of big markets. He argued that we are in the midst of a new transition away from the browser and back to stand alone mobile applications and that this transition, like the ones before it, is the catalyst for the emergence of a new category of mobile centric companies like Instagram, Snapchat, and Rovio.
Bill goes on to explain why the companies that dominate the browser based world have such a hard time navigating this platform transition. It is not just that there are new tools to learn and multiple platforms to support, the design goals are fundamentally different. Mobile apps, because of the limited screen real estate and the limited patience of users, must be quick, responsive, and very tightly focused. As he puts it “mobile values the single solution, the one sharp blade rather than a Swiss army knife”. Acquiring users is also different. On the Web almost every activity starts with a search. On mobile devices, users are much more likely to dive in by launching an app. The profound consequence of this is that Search Engine Optimization which heavily influences web design has a much smaller impact on design or marketing choices in mobile.
Because it is so difficult for established organizations, even modern flexible ones, to navigate a transition like this, we are always on the look out for young companies that have built big networks in important markets with a mobile first approach.
THE Football App has done just that. We were introduced to them last spring and were able to watch as they added 3,000,000 new downloads over the last six months for a total today of over 10,000,000. It is now a category leading app with top app store positions in 50 countries. It is one of the largest mobile applications for passionate fans of the world’s most popular sport - football (Soccer for you Americans). THE Football App delivers minute-by-minute scores, news, videos, and stats for over 100 leagues, in seven languages.
If you are a football fan, you know the sport has no shortage of media coverage on television, in print and on the web, but that coverage is balkanized. Most outlets cover one or two leagues, and one national team. Today, the sport is more global than ever, fans want to follow players from their national teams as they move from league to league around the world. THE Football App is the only app with that kind of breadth, and yet because of its focus on one sport, it is that “single sharp blade” that Bill referred to. With the recent integration of live commentary from Twitter, the views of top Football journalists and bloggers, and everyday users, the app is poised to become the center of the global conversation about any match, news item, or celebrity in the world of football. If you are a football fan join the fun by downloading THE Football App here
We are thrilled to be able to say today that Union Square Ventures led their most recent round of funding, and are excited to be part of their team.