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For Leading Web Sites, Mobile Tide Turns Toward Full-Fledged Apps


Stashed in: Quora!, Mobile!, @lizgannes, Questions That Contain Assumptions, Web Designs, @scobleizer, Awesome, HTML5!, Mobile Web!

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Should this really have been a trend piece? Anecdote != data.

Deconstructing the Top 5 Lines from this awesome article...

5. "Quora is not a huge site — it reportedly gets single-digit millions of visitors per month, and it’s only available in English."

To be fair to them, they only spent $13 million to get to single-digit-millions of visitors. Downright frugal compared to the $50 million they just raised.

4. "Between its iPhone app and mobile Web site, Quora says it already gets 25 percent of its traffic from mobile."

No big deal. Between our (nonexistent) iPhone app and our mobile Web site, PandaWhale already gets 30 percent of our traffic from mobile.

3. "Cheever, with whom I met yesterday, has shifted his internal focus entirely to mobile, he said."

I'd like to encourage Mr. Cheever to put down the crack pipe. Entirely mobile? Is he outta his mind? A few years ago I was complaining that Quora's text editor neither works on iPhone or iPad, and they blew it off as an "Apple bug" in contentEditable. An Apple bug that still has not been fixed, mind you.

2. "Some people tried to be almost religious about HTML5, and the reality is the technology and performance isn’t here yet," Cheever said.

This is so NOT correct. HTML5 is plenty fast so I question Quora's design choices. We don't see Facebook, Yahoo, or Google switching to mobile-only.

1. "The Quora app does use some HTML5, Cheever said, in instances where Web views have better performance. So this is actually a bit more subtle than native versus Web; what’s important is the new Quora app is handcrafted for the Android environment."

Translation: We're ready to consider a Google offer when the price is right.

If you ask me, their perf problems are server-side, not client-side. Remember the Great Scoble Fiasco of 2010? It wasn't slow DOM queries that caused the ceaseless 500 errors.

In the words of Twitter Search Dev cum "Random Quora Engineer" Albert Sheu:

One of the things Quora emphasizes is the real-time aspect of all interactions on the site... If someone adds a question, it's put into their followers' feeds right away. If someone updates their answer text, it goes out to everyone who's viewing that answer... The web framework we've built in-house, LiveNode, is designed to make the programming of these interactions as simple as possible, but we'd never tested scaling the system beyond 2-3 times our typical load.

What innovative/risky things were they trying to do client-side that weren't directly related to realtime/LiveNode? This whole thing doesn't make any sense at all.

Especially when you think about how they're about richly formatting long-winded essays and then sending edits out in realtime. Nothing about that works well on mobile.

I fondly remember the great Scoble Quora story of 2010.

Albert Sheu humblebragging about inventing their own proprietary version of Node.js really makes me question Quora's strategic judgment.

You're right, the whole thing makes no sense at all.

Mobile is all about brevity. Quora is all about being long-winded.

Mobile Quora is all about long-winded brevity. Huh?

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