India’s Mobile-Only Products 2015

Ecommerce and local commerce services here in India are beginning to soak up the mindspace around the buzzword “mobile-only“. I imagine that the idea of mobile-only will follow the regular cycle starting with sinking in deeper into app design and eventually, business design too. But there’s something superficial about the way its being thrown about.

Here’s one instance of the term in use to critique the product strategy of flipkart, other ecommerce players.

3 questions about Indian ecommerce’s mobile-only obsession – Karthik Srinivasan,, 22 March 2015.

One of the earlier references I managed to uncover was a report on India’s Internet usage being predominantly “mobile-only” (Over 50% of India’s Internet Users are Mobile-Only, Times of India, 23 October 2014). Fast forward, we now have an accelerator dedicated to mobile-only startups.

To me, mobile-only by design implies direct, efficient function for mobile users, even beyond the desktop. For instance, if you find it hard to get something done with a mobile social networking app (as opposed to impossible) and you switched over to a laptop to do so instead, that’s not mobile-only. On the other hand, Mobile-only does not imply that your product strategy is simply restricted to the mobile as is being used in the popular press.

Mobile-only is intended to simply serve the user with that characteristic. In other words, what makes the Uber app mobile-only is the assertion that you’re reserving the cab on the kerb-side. They’ve fastidiously stuck to this idea despite the immense temptation to solve for other cases. The fact that you can’t book a cab on your laptop is then just a symptom. The day we see an Indian ecommerce service restricting itself to serve the user on the go, that’s going to be an interesting day and will hopefully mean they’ve grown out of a “serve all equally” approach. As you can imagine such as service must have a different product mix on sale, perhaps an entirely different business model as well.

Think HotelTonight and not MakeMyTrip.

We are like this only!