A year ago, LinkedIn had what could generously be described as a modest mobile presence. Most smartphone users using LinkedIn had to squint into their small screens at the Website if they wanted to use the service while in transit.
This obviously wasn't going to work long term. That's why the popular social and business networking Web service, which now claims 238 million users, has activated a new mobile strategy and launched new apps Oct. 23 for iOS and Android smartphones and tablets.
The 10-year-old Mountain View, Calif.-based company introduced an easier-to-use version of its app for iPads and a new one called LinkedIn Intro, which combines its Rapportive email intellectual property (from the February 2012 acquisition) with the Apple Mail feature on the iPhone.
LinkedIn also showed a preview of its new Pulse news source aggregator, due out at the end of the year.
Mobile--and Making Money--Are Priorities
Mobile is what the new IT is all about, LinkedIn and a score of other companies believe. Making some money is also what it happens to be about; the company cannot live by subscriptions, sponsored updates and display advertising alone. The new apps it showed Oct. 23 will dovetail with company initiatives to get monetarily creative by using its millions of daily exposures to a fast-growing membership to its best advantage.
Content marketing, in which product messages are infused in messages that look like News Feed updates, will be seen more often. Enterprise subscription apps for professional employee recruiting (Recruiter) and recruiting college students (CheckIn) are gaining traction after a year in the marketplace.
CheckIn enables a subscriber who sees an interesting job online to apply for the job with one click, since LinkedIn already has the person's resume online. All of these apps either are available now, or will be soon, for mobile devices.
"We did some research, and we found that eight percent of unique visits to LinkedIn came via mobile devices just two-and-a-half years ago," CEO Jeff Weiner said at a launch event at the Terra Gallery in San Francisco.
Mobile User Participation Skyrocketing
"To give you some sense about how quickly mobile is growing, today that number stands at 38 percent. That line continues to go up and to the right, so much so that by this time next year we believe we're going to cross the 50 percent threshold."
In introducing the Intro email app, Rapportive co-founder (and now LinkedIn executive) Rahul Vohta said that "the No. 1 activity by far on mobile devices isn't gaming. It's not browsing the Web, it's not even social networking; it's email. The growth of mobile email has been astounding; four years ago, less than 4 percent of emails were read on mobile devices. Today more than half of all emails are read on a mobile device."
Intro shows LinkedIn at the top of the screen and email at the bottom. In this way, a user receiving an email from somebody he or she doesn't know can quickly see a photo of the sender, a few lines about his/her background, and the person's contact information before the Intro user decides whether to return the message.
Intro is able to collate email from numerous other services (Gmail, Google Apps, Yahoo, AOL mail, iCloud, and so on) and offers more granular control of the world's No. 1 business app on an iPhone. The new app, available by invite only at this time, can be downloaded here. It will become generally available in a few weeks.
More Social Components in New iPad App
The redesigned version of LinkedIn for iPad is much more of a social app, enabling users to share, follow, like and add new contacts directly from the LinkedIn News Feed.
"Influencer" content by experts certified by LinkedIn--a popular addition to the main site for the last year or so--has also been added to the iPad app. It also enables users to read content or watch videos right from the app, instead of having to move to a new app or browser window.
Some business intelligence has been built into the new iPad version. The app is more personalized and time-saving in that it will anticipate who or what company you might be looking for and show you those first. This is all based on the people and companies users view the most. iPad owners can download the new version here.
Since research has indicated that about 72 percent of mobile device users look there first for news, LinkedIn is busy updating its version of the Pulse news application, which should be ready for prime time by the end of the year, Weiner said.