The fight for the mobile home screen


May 16, 2014

Somrat Niyogi is CEO of StitchSomrat Niyogi is CEO of Stitch, creators of a mobile email app aimed at sales people. Stitch lets you track sent emails, connect with services like Hightail, and create message templates for quick communication on the go.

Mobile and tablets have inexorably changed the way we work. In the next decade, more work will be done on phones and tablets than on desktop devices. A new breed of companies has some amazing opportunities to own mindshare as essential, everyday work applications.

Just as Microsoft owned desktop productivity applications, there will likely be a dominant player in mobile. Everyone from the behemoths like Google, Apple and Salesforce to scrappy startups will invest heavily in mobile. It’s going to be a protracted battle, and though it’s currently unclear who will win, there can be no question of a war for the mobile home screen.

John Borthwick at Betaworks recently analyzed a sample of a thousand people’s home screens and the resulting article was terrific. While early adopters skew the results a bit, the results give us insight into larger market trends especially with regards to Apple’s iOS devices, which provided the majority of the data.

Replacing the default applications that come with iOS, including essential apps like Maps, Calendar, and Mail, is a very real trend. Despite Apple Maps default position, 42% of participants had Google Maps on their home screen. Even more striking is that 50% of those with a mail app on their home screens had a non-Apple mail app. The implication is clear: users are dissatisfied with default apps and are taking action.

Microsoft is nowhere to be seen. 0% of the home screen apps were from Microsoft. This is especially stark given that Microsoft applications almost completely own the desktop environment. For the first time this platform transition from desktop to mobile has opened the door for competition in productivity applications. Perhaps Microsoft can gain a foothold with their recent release of Office for iOS, but their commitment to Surface in a world dominated by iOS and Android devices, raises a number of interesting strategic questions for its new CEO to quickly sort through.

The problem with Microsoft, Apple and Google is that they are walled gardens that don’t play well with each other. Google Maps and Apple Mail don’t work well together, which is a problem if you like to use both apps. Today’s users expect their favorite applications to communicate freely and openly with each other. There is an opportunity for new players who see integration as a priority.

I’m most excited about the innovation related to making work better, by taking a mobile-first approach. We’ll see new design paradigms and all manners of new ideas and new tools. My company, Stitch, recently released a new mobile email app aimed at sales people – you can learn more about it here. Our aim was to make email work harder for people that spend a lot of time on the move. Ensuring that a much used service like Hightail is an integral part of the Stitch experience was essential.

These are our first baby steps to a larger opportunity. Though the battle for the home screen will involve some companies losing, it’s clear that the ultimate winners are users. With so many choices, but only one coveted home screen, companies will be forced to bring their A-game to have any success.

Get the Stitch app and use the code “hightail” to access the beta.


  1. zpar

    4 years ago

    Somrat – An app worth looking at – will check it out. Did you really mean this is the goal of Stitch as mentioned in your article above? – “Our aim was to make email work harder for people that spend a lot of time on the move.”

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