Why LinkedIn calls its main app as Swiss army knife

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A year after Facebook decided that its future lay in mobile devices, LinkedIn has at last come to a similar conclusion: Its core audience of white-collar workers is constantly on the go, and the company needs to do a better job of reaching its users beyond the desktop. 

LinkedIn has rolled out a couple of new products aimed at mobile users: a revamped iPad app that adopts a more traditional news feed style of articles and updates from your contacts, and an e-mail add-on for iPhone users that pulls LinkedIn data about the sender into every e-mail. 

Jeff Weiner, the company's chief executive, says mobile is "redefining" the company. "Members are going to find what they are looking for much faster," he says. 

Weiner said that about 38% of unique visits to the company's services were via mobile devices in the most recent quarter, compared with 8% in the first quarter of 2011. Sometime next year, he predicted, more than half of all visits globally will come from mobile devices, with Singapore, Turkey and United Arab Emirates already there. 

The company is rethinking its mobile offerings as a consequence, offering five different apps catering to various needs of LinkedIn's approximately 238 million users: The main LinkedIn app — The company calls this "the Swiss army knife." 

It offers a more streamlined experience of the desktop app, with special features on the phone, such a button to apply instantly for a job by e-mailing your LinkedIn profile. The new iPad version has personalized menus to help a user pull up the most relevant information. 

A contacts app — Directed at professionals like sales people and real estate agents who need ready access to their contact lists, this aggregates contacts in a single place. 

Pulse — A news aggregation app that LinkedIn acquired in April, the app combines stories posted on LinkedIn with more traditional feeds from a user's favorite sources. 

Recruiter — This is a mobile interface to the company's big-ticket subscription product for recruiters, with an emphasis on buttons for quick email responses and sharing of information about promising candidates. 

Intro — This add-on for the email app in iPhones comes from Rapportive, a contact management start-up that LinkedIn acquired last year. When activated, it routes a user's email through LinkedIn servers, which scans the sender's name and plugs in information from his or her LinkedIn profile before routing them to the inbox. 

A single click allows you to pull up the sender's profile, see shared connections and ask to be added to the person's network if you are not already connected.

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