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There’s An App For That is Not A Mobile Strategy

Dooky! Pick up the phone!!
Credit: Flickr / matthijs

People throw the word “mobile” around a lot, and my observation is – they all mean different things, but think they are talking about the same thing.

When I talk about mobile, I want to talk about how everything changes when everyone has a device this powerful on them, all the time.

“An app for that” only scratches the surface for how things change (that link contains the most fascinating stats on mobile usage I’ve seen, and the surveys were done Q1 2012, the world has only become more mobile-centric since then). And sometimes people talk about “not having a mobile experience” – that is nonsense, the mobile experience is whatever happens (or doesn’t) when the user tries to use whatever it is on their mobile device.

A restaurant with a flash only website has a “mobile experience” – it’s just not one that makes you more likely to eat dinner there.

There’s a fascinating document on mobile insights from Ford (related article), which is interesting because they are a car company, but in this context makes sense, because everything changes.

Individuals have mobile strategies – phone stacking is an example. When out for dinner with friends, cellphones are placed face down on the table (pile optional), and whoever touches their device first, pays. That’s part of a mobile strategy, aiming to address the need to be mentally and emotionally present for the people we are physically present with. The book Alone Together covers so many examples of individual disconnection as the result of devices.

I wear two activity trackers with a third on the way. Part of my mobile strategy addressing my need to stay active (and measure my mood and sleep as a result).

One of the things I find fascinating, that no-one seems to talk about, is how people take more pictures as a result of having these devices, and they are shared much faster. See how Apple is the second most popular “camera brand” on Flickr.

Also fascinating to me – the rise of disconnected vacations (as told by journalist, as taken by brain scientists, mine, Full Contact’s paid paid vacation policy) as a means to escape from the constant connectivity and demands.

People ask me what North Korea was like, I say, “do you ever feel you have decision fatigue? You can go to North Korea and make no decisions for 6 days.”

I think decision fatigue must be worse as a result – every time my device beeps, and it beeps so much more because it’s not just calls or text messages but instant messages, and Facebook likes, and Twitter mentions, and emails. And I have to decide whether to look, whether to read it, whether to respond.

At the level of creating user experiences, I think the question is not “web or native?” but rather – what is different? What do users want?

Web or native is a much easier question to answer.

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