The Revenge Of The Desktop App

The Revenge Of The Desktop App

Quip, Cotap, and others are scrapping the mobile-first playbook.

Bret Taylor had a chart that was going the wrong way.

The CEO of Quip, a startup whose namesake app promised to redefine word processing for the mobile era, had seen a curious trend: Desktop usage of Quip, which was minimal at first, had been steadily rising for the past two years. Just this month, it crossed 50 percent.

That’s the exact opposite of the trend the rest of the world is seeing, where what Simon Khalaf, then CEO of Flurry and now a top executive at Yahoo, dubbed the “mobile moment”—the crossover point where mobile usage exceeds desktop—has already happened.

Some of that had to do with product improvements Taylor’s team had made, like the introduction of spreadsheets, a classic desktop activity. But it also had to do with Quip’s changing user base.

“It’s being driven by our business users,” Taylor told me. “When we launched spreadsheets in October, we had about 10,000 companies using Quip. Now we have 30,000 companies using Quip. Our business usage has been growing exponentially.”

While the world of work is changing rapidly, most of us surf that wave of change seated in front of a flat surface, on which rests a machine with a keyboard. (Perhaps we stand, or even walk, but the point remains.)

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