As a mobile investor I am always looking for technology trends and user experiences before they hit mainstream. The early trends that make entrepreneurs and investors wealthy are the ones that are simple, that can achieve mass scale, and are only obvious to everyone else after the fact.
There is a new and powerful mobile functionality trend emerging that most users understand because it is simple, (they experience it today), but which is not yet ubiquitous in mobile because it is only in the hands of a few that can afford it, until now. This trend is “human perceptive” real-time mobile functionality. iPhone users will recognize the iOS status icon when texting someone that is responding back real-time on an iPhone.
This is a subtle but very powerful real-time feature. As the little status indicator appears it takes us from a passive asynchronous user experience, to a highly engaging synchronous emotional experience, “a real-time human perceptive experience.”
Chatting online from a desktop is not quite the same. Mobile is always on, always with us. The real magic is when you are in a crowded checkout line at the grocery store on a 2G network and have a question for your wife…. “Are we out of toilet paper?”, a feeling of relief sets in as you see the real time icon appear. Or if you’re single, you might have texted a “friend” for a first date. When you see the status indicator appear milliseconds after you pushed send, the adrenaline rush begins.
Real-time apps and games have existed for a while: World of Warcraft, WebEx, Skype, IM, Facebook Live Feed, and Google Docs, to name a few. This real-time anywhere, instant, live communication is uber addictive. And a new “human perceptive” real-time trend is emerging. “Broadcast”-based “push-to-millions” apps are growing in popularity: real-time voting on Spike TV, live syncing of Eurocup 2012 match updates, Turntable FM, and live blogging are examples of an emerging new trend of using real-time to update everyone at the same time. There are also a myriad of growing use cases for “one-to-one” push messaging as well, ranging from simple chat apps to the enablement of the “Internet of Things” revolution.
What’s clear is that the levels of end user engagement skyrocket when you add real-time functionality to your app.
The challenge is that historically, these technologies could only be delivered by companies that could afford dedicated real-time development teams and massive global infrastructure. While Google and Facebook can afford teams of real-time experts, racks of servers, global datacenters and network bandwidth, emerging companies often rely on real-time hacks. While this might work great during the prototype phase, what happens if you have a successful hit? The power of app store distribution is a double-edged sword. When your real-time app becomes a hit, your real-time infrastructure needs to scale immediately across your entire user base. Like the saying goes, you’ve only got one chance to make a good impression.
Here is where PubNub comes in. This real-time infrastructure is now available, works in every mobile and server environment, requires no real-time expertise, and it scales affordably. Now you can handle a huge global surge of millions of users on your app and still remain a lean startup. Thanks PubNub!
Now independent entrepreneurs can innovate from the garage at scale and create whole new businesses or disrupt existing industries with this technology.
Evidence of this trend is already underfoot. When we invested in PubNub in January of this year they had less than 200 messages per second flowing through their global network. Last month they achieved over 1 million messages per second capacity and have multiple billions of messages flowing through their system monthly, supporting now 10’s of millions of devices.
We are interested in teaming with visionary entrepreneurs to build the next great mobile real-time business using these kinds of cloud services.
Dear PubNub developers and entrepreneurs. I am interested in investing….Real-time.
John Occhipinti, Partner Relay Ventures