Can LinkedIn's New Mobile Strategy Pay Off?

At its Mobile Day event yesterday, LinkedIn (NYSE: LNKD  ) CEO Jeff Weiner talked about the company's current mobile reach and debuted some new features to help those pursuits. But while LinkedIn revealed some positive mobile user numbers, some of its new strategies may be overreaching. 

Source: LinkedIn.

A mobile quest
Weiner said yesterday that by next year 50% of the company's traffic would come from mobile devices. Right now, LinkedIn's mobile traffic is currently at 38%.

The company has a lot of incentive to push further into its mobile efforts. LinkedIn launched its sponsored updates feature just last quarter and already a majority of the sponsored update revenue comes from mobile.

And that's not the only thing incentivizing LinkedIn's mobile growth. Wiener said that its mobile users are 2.5 times more engaged with LinkedIn than desktop users.

In order to push further into mobile, yesterday LinkedIn introduced a new service called LinkedIn Intro. Intro works in Apple's iOS Mail app and integrates LinkedIn profile information into a user's email. The idea being that users can see more information about their email contacts and add them to their network straight from their mail. The technology comes from Rapportive, a contact management company LinkedIn acquired last year.

Here's what a user's email looks like before and after LinkedIn Intro is added:
 

Source: LinkedIn.

The Intro service is a creative way for the company to engage its mobile users and lowers the barrier of LinkedIn contact integration -- but there a some major problem with the concept: allowing LinkedIn to have some level of access to a user's mail.

Last year, LinkedIn suffered a massive security breach resulting in about 6.5 million passwords being stolen from users. Though security breaches are nothing new for companies, it does seem problematic for users to trust the company that inserting LinkedIn information in their mail will be safe.

The other side to this is the fact that Apple's proprietary iOS app is being modified in some way. Apple isn't one to let other companies change around how its apps work, and it's possible the Cupertino-based company could make adjustments to the Mail app to keep Intro from working.

Linking mobile growth to revenue growth
LinkedIn Intro is unproven at this point, so investors should continue to look for how the company is able to monetize its sponsored updates service. LinkedIn is facing the same hurdles other companies are in figuring out the best path to creating mobile revenue. Obviously, increasing mobile traffic will be good for LinkedIn, and the Intro service may help build that. But I wouldn't be too excited about LinkedIn's announcements yesterday until we see if Intro has real staying power and if it actually adds to the company's mobile revenue.

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