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I have seen the future, and it's mobile. Just one little problem: Engagement.

Henry Blodget of BusinessInsider gave an excellent presentation titled The Future of Digital at a recent Ignition conference.

As you can see from the trendlines in the graphs below, the promise of smartphones is rapidly coming to fruition, with over 50% penetration in the US, and an especially-significant stat that by 2015 the number of broadband connections coming from mobile devices will be over 300% the number coming from fixed (i.e., desktop computer) devices. Translated, that means the promise of blazing-fast broadband on your phone is already here with 4G LTE on many new smartphones, and it's about to become ubiquitious.  And that means that people will just reach for their phone instead of walking over to a desktop computer whenever they want to do anything online.  I wrote about this phenomenon in a post about how the iPhone 5's connectivity has been growing exponentially since its introduction.

Another significant stat shown below is that the time smartphone users spend in apps is 600% greater than mobile web. As TechCrunch reported last October, mobile app downloads are skyrocketing from 2 billion in 2010 to 98 billion in 2015 -- an increase of almost 50x. And as Localytics reports, 26% of users only open an app once after downloading.  Already, engagement is a problem in mobile, and as the number of downloads skyrockets fifty fold, the problem is going to get much worse.  Just think about your own phone:  How many apps are on it that you downloaded, but never use.

Fred Wilson coined the term "30/10/10" to refer to 30% of the download base being MAUs (Monthly Active Users) and 10% of the download base being daily actives.  I believe the engagement stats for many apps are often even worse than that.  Oftentimes, as the Localytics data illustrates, 25% to 50% of users don't even open the app once after downloading it.  In a presentation from PinchMedia (now several years old), the active user rate 90 days after install was well under 5% of the download base.

The Secret Tunnels Under UT

On Tynan

NEW: Video link added to the bottom 12/14
NEW: Second video link added to the bottom 12/15

Haha... two secret posts in a row. I have a mental list of stories I want to write here, and somehow this one had slipped off of it. Luckily, a UT Grad who goes by "The Reel Deal" posted a comment reminding me about the story. So here it goes, with a little history first.

I never thought I'd go to UT (The University of Texas, not Tennessee). Ever since I was in middle school, I always knew that I'd go to MIT - it was where the smart geeky people went, and I was one of them. When it came time to do applications for schools, I mailed two of them. One for MIT and one for WPI, a lesser known technical school in Massachusetts. I had abysmal grades, due in a large part to my refusal to do most homework and having never actually studied for a test. I always thought it was interesting to see how much of the material I'd naturally retained. Let's just say it usually wasn't over 80%.

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