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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Flipkart Throws Google a Bone in the Battle Between Mobile Web and Apps

In April, Flipkart, the highly valued Indian e-commerce startup, looked ready to kill its mobile website. Visitors were met with a full-screen message directing them to download Flipkart’s app. The move was interpreted as foreboding for Google, which makes considerable ad dollars from e-commerce companies and prefers the mobile Web to cloistered apps.
Not so. Turns out, Flipkart was actually working with Google in the interim to launch a new mobile website, built for Google’s mobile Chrome browser, that the companies say will meld the best of the apps and mobile Web experiences. It’s launching today
For Google, the launch is a victory. The lion’s share of new Internet users will come online in emerging markets like India and on mobile devices, most likely Android ones. Yet if their online lives are relegated to apps, that denies Google the data and potential revenue streams it sees from the mobile Web. Should other companies follow Flipkart’s lead, Google will advance in its efforts to eradicate some of the distinctions between apps and the Web.
Flipkart began nudging users to its app because that was where it saw much higher engagement, said Peeyush Ranjan, its VP of engineering. Apps have benefits — a clean, contained design and offline capabilities. But they also demand frequent updates to stay current — developers submit them every couple weeks. That’s particularly tricky in countries like India where a bulk of people come online with low-end Android phones that are infrequently updated. To be current on the Web, just hit refresh.

Madhav Biju

Author & Editor

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