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How Deep Linking Could Fix the Mobile Problem You Didn't Know You Had

The CEOs of URX and Quixey say mobile offers an opening for search startups.

Asa Mathat

You may or may not have noticed, but the mobile experience is broken.

That, at least, was the message in the kickoff session of day two at Code/Mobile, where the heads of Quixey and URX explained how they’re trying to fix it.

Each company is working in what would broadly be described as the mobile search space, helping users to more easily find apps or the information within apps on their devices. But that mission has drawn both to the narrower space of deep linking, a way of hopping to a particular place inside an app.

“The product we’ve been really building is one where a user should be able to ask anything they think of,” Quixey CEO Tomer Kagan said in the onstage interview with Re/code’s Ina Fried.

URX CEO John Milinovich added: “We’re focused on becoming the connective tissue between mobile apps … [to] find a link to actions inside other apps.”

As Fried explained in her earlier story on the topic, the mobile experience today is analogous to a search engine dumping users at a homepage and leaving them to root around the site for the specific bit of information they were seeking. Instead, deep linking on the Web allows users to land on a specific paragraph within a specific page.

One of the key challenges for pulling this off on mobile today is that no single standard has emerged. As Fried noted previously: “Google has its app indexing, Facebook has App Links, URX promotes omnilinks and Quixey is encouraging AppURL.”

Bigger players like Facebook and Google are focused on the problem because it represents both an opportunity and a risk. Notably, as more of computing shifts to mobile — and from the open Web into apps — it threatens to undermine Google’s dominance in online search and all the lucrative ad dollars that go with it.

And Kagan argued forcefully that this shift provides an opening for startups like Quixey.

“It’s tough being a content player and a platform,” he said.

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