LinkedIn, the social network for the working world now with over 238 million members globally, is presenting an update on its mobile strategy today. As part of that, its parted the curtain a bit to show us how its planning to integrate one of its recent acquisitions, Pulse. Pulse, the news aggregation and news reading app, will become the “content brand” for LinkedIn, according to Ankit Gupta, Pulse's co-founder.
With the new Pulse app, users will be give the ability for people to log in with their LinkedIn identities to receive recommended stories, and it will start to incorporate content from influencers. The idea is that Pulse will be not just a place to read news, but a place for people to read news tailored to their professional lives.
“We will be bringing better content experiences to empower users throughout their day and their careers,” he said. The app will be released later this year, Gupta said.
Pulse, a Flipboard competitor, was acquired by LinkedIn for some $90 million in April of this year. Pulse has remained operational and LinkedIn has up to now not commented on how it planned to use the service. This effectively keeps the service standalone, but tethers it much more closely to LinkedIn.
The concept of a single sign-on and a user's identity that will be used outside of LinkedIn's own platform is an interesting one: it's also something that LinkedIn's acquisition of Rapportive is exploring with its new LinkedIn Intro app for iPhone. Read more on that here.
LinkedIn today also announced a new a new iPad app that it says underscores its new approach to mobile with an updated feed with more visual images and video, as well incorporating its rebuilt search engine, introduced earlier this year on the desktop.
The company said that some 38% of all traffic is on mobile, and next year LinkedIn's CEO Jeff Weiner projects that LinkedIn will cross its “mobile moment,” where mobile traffic will surpass that of desktop traffic.
The evolution of Pulse, as well as the LinkedIn mobile experience in general, is part of the company's push for more personalization. There is, after all, no connected device today that is as constant a companion as your mobile phone. Before today, other mobile moves at the company included improved search, more features in its mobile apps - including the ability to upload and edit resumes and apply for jobs, and a separate app to manage contacts. That is in addition to updates to the desktop experience that have inlcuded a better home page, LinkedIn Today, to include curated content. And LinkedIn's ambition to position itself as the repository for people's “professional graph” has led it into other areas, too. One of these has been to target universities. The effort started in August and now has some 1,500 universities on board, Weiner said.
The ambition is big, but Weiner - possibly aware of some of the “creepy” reputation it has, giving users insight into who has viewed their profiles and so on - is perhaps more Google and less Facebook when he describes it. “We'd like there to be a professional profile for every one of the 3 billion-plus professional people in the world today,” said Weiner, “and then we'd like to step away.” It's something that reminded me of how Google has described its approach to search in the past.
LinkedIn sees mobile as key to how it can do that. “How is mobile allowing us to reinvent LinkedIn?” Weiner asked today. “The expectations of our users today is that those applications are going to continue to evolve… We can't just take the desktop experience and port it over to mobile.” This includes taking into account screen size as well as user expectations and the need for users to find information faster.
It hasn't always been smooth for the company, but it is increasingly trying to up its game lest Facebook decide to become more focused on targeting people in the working world and therefore stealing LinkedIn's thunder. During the presentation today Joff Redfern, VP of mobile products, admitted some of what LinkedIn learned along the way. When it launched its first iPhone app in 2010, it thought it had everything sewn up, he said. “Ten months later we had to completely rewrite it.” And then it had to do it again, and again. Its efforts have included training existing staff, and hiring new people, to think and act mobile-first.
“The magic of mobile is keeping simple simple. I have a five-second rule,” noted Kiran Prasad, Senior Director, Mobile Engineering. He noted that there is no way of putting the 500-odd distinct pages that LinkedIn offers on desktop into its mobile app. It's a step away from trying to achieve parity in a single site, and a move towards a multiple-app strategy.