Monday, January 28, 2008

Mobile Myths

Dispelling several beliefs about mobile device use ...

"There is a handful of "universal truths" that I have come to doubt. Ney, that I have come to view with deep skepticism.

Myth: The future of mobile is the Web

Well, you better not be in a hurry if you believe this. This myth is highly buzzword compliant, a sure sign that the majority of revenue is currently made by "visionary gurus" doing strategy consulting and not from actual people using actual services.

The current state of the Mobile Web is that it is years away from resembling anything like a usable application platform. Mobile AJAX and mobile RIA's are currently only small scale experiments. Look at the big players on the web. Does companies like Google or Yahoo make web applications for phones? No. They make native or Java based applications. You can make great "static" web pages for the mobile web today, but if you want web apps, revisit this in 2010 or thereabouts.

Myth: Its a phone first

The myth is that the device you always carry is primarily a phone, other uses are secondary. This view is out of date. The "phone part" of the mobile has the highest urgency. When a call comes in, answering the call have and must have higher priority that any other function of the phone. But most people spend a lot more time with other features of the phone. Listening to music or podcasts, browsing, reading emails and not to mention sending SMS takes up the vast majority of time spent with the phone. "Its a phone first" is a myth that lead manufacturers to optimizing the phone for, well, phoning.

But look at the iPhone, the device that has shaken up the mobile industry. It is optimized for music. If it was optimized for calls it would at least have a decent keypad. Actually, you could argue that watching video is what the iPhone is really optimized for. The priority is video first, music second, browsing third, calls fourth.

Myth: Converged devices

There are two camps here. Some are strong proponents for the view that in the future we will all be carrying a single device that does everything. The other camp (the "separatistas") claim that separate devices will always be better as they can be optimized for a particular task. Well the truth is that they are both right and they are both wrong. Some people (about 40%) will carry a single converged device. People with enough pockets and money may carry 2 devices. People with backpacks or briefcases may carry 3 devices.

People will carry one device in some occasions and 2 or 3 on other, like for example when traveling. The point being that there is no rule and no clear direction that indicates that in the future we will all do one or the other. Plan on supporting a multitude of scenarios if you make mobile services."    (Continued via Small Surfaces, Sender 11)    [Usability Resources]

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