April 20, 2012

Mobile Applications Creation – What To Care About?

I was at Mobile World Congress 2012 back in February and it triggered quite a few thoughts. While there were many that I had, some are more appropriate for this blog than others. So what is it that matters in the mobile space and where is it that innovation needs to take place?

Marketers are taking over – I know it’s tough to swallow. We’re collecting data, we're following our users like never before, we’re always with them either with a pocket mobile or with a smart wristband as examples. This is a dream come true for marketers - they can now create a much stronger link with their brand and with social use the social connections to influence a whole slew of people I know for FREE through my social network. Marketing budgets will explode!

Here are the places that scream opportunity to me.

Experience:  It transcends all layers and goes beyond (see my post Mobile – Reframing My Model ). No one really owns all the pieces and it’s a big challenge. The experience equation is: Hardware + Software + Services + Applications. As Peter Chou, CEO of HTC puts it, "the experience has to be Simple, Human and Crafted". In other words, easy to use, compelling through an emotional connection ie. working for people and lastly stylish and sophisticated. All of the above has to be with the mindset that continuity matters to users.
As an application designer and creator, the big picture is critical to me. I need to get out there to observe and engage my users. I need to get out there to engage the service providers and integrate them seamlessly in the continuum of the experience of my application. I have to understand the context where I take over from the current task and where I hand off, and do it seamlessly.
Ecosystem:  Competition is good and it always pays off in the end for the users. At the same time, I’m afraid of the barriers the platform vendors are putting up across ecosystems. There is room for a #3 and maybe a #4. For Nokia, as per Elop, they want to build a platform that answers the ‘where’ question ALL the time (see my post Nokia’s Mobile Strategy @ Mobile World Congress ). I like the odds of Windows Phone, and for RIM there are still a few tricks they can play that could change the trend.
Ultimately though how many of us will have a full blown Apple house and work, or Windows, or Google. I really like the odds of dropbox like services that are going to help me cross the chasm between all the players. I see opportunity in more services like dropbox to glue the ecosystems together.
Big Data:  The monetization model has changed forever even if a few apps companies are making a killing. The money is in data and leveraging users' involvement and participation in some ways. Dennis Crowley of Foursquare opened with "everywhere you see a map there should be a foursquare dot on it".
This is how to build the barriers of entry - the more data I have and the smarter I can be about it, the better the experience I deliver will be. The power in analytics is the ability it gives me to get good at putting a context around what is going on in the user universe and deliver that second to none experience.

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