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Getting Mobile Right – Guiding Principles November 6, 2008

Posted by fredillies in eBusiness, Gadgets n Gizmos, Uncategorized.
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nytI’ve been thinking a lot about mobile apps lately. As many of you know I’m a huge fan of the iPhone… and from the day the iPhone SDK (software developers kit) and App Store were launched, I’ve been convinced that most people had no IDEA how much this was going to change the game in the mobile arena.  I sat through a session on Mobile Commerce at the Internet Retailer conference in Chicago this past summer, and the pundits from the research companies put up countless boring slides about what % of the mobile market Nokia had, and the infinitesimal % of online sales that were coming from mobile.

When it came time for audience questions, by FAR the majority of them were retailers (large & small) wanting to know about what impact they expected from the iPhone now that native apps were possible.  The “experts” on stage looked like  deer in the headlights… mumbling about “it’s still too early to tell”.  The thing was, all there presentations were about what happened in the past… not what was going to happen in the future as a result of the METEORIC adoption of this powerful and elegant device (and IMHO the first usable mobile interface).

Fast forward to today.  The number of iPhone apps is growing fast (and we can’t even SEE the real numbers because corporate apps for small numbers of users don’t need to be distributed through the App Store).  We do know that as of this summer, 35% of Fortune 500 companies are developing internal apps for iPhone (and that % has surely grown since then).  The opportunities are enormous. Which leads me the point of this post: what makes a great mobile app? What guiding principles can you follow that will guide you as you dip your toe in this raging river? (BTW, iPhone is not the only platform that will drive the growth of great mobile apps… Android promises to grow the pie even more)

1.  Its all about UTILITY.  I’m on the go, and I want specific information quickly. Although the iPhone offers the best mobile browsing experience, having your customers visit your regular website from a mobile device is not what gives utility to mobile users… that will just frustrate them.  What you need to do is think about what types of information would be most useful to your customers/consumers while they are mobile and build what amounts to small “Applets” that deliver a very small feature set very well and very quickly.

2. Once you’ve got #1 right, the next thing its about is having the DEPTH AND RELEVANCE OF DATA. This is what is useful to the mobile consumer. Being able to tap into useful data (from your systems and other public data) and create a “mash-up” is how you can really differentiate.  The ability to integrate all this on the back end is critical of course.

3. Finally, it’s about THE USER EXPERIENCE. It’s about having a simple interface (the more it can look like the elegant Apple iPhone apps the better… because the UI seems transparent to the user).  #1 above is about figuring out what small window into your massive data that you’ll expose for optimal utility. It’s the user experience that will determine what that window looks like and how easy it is for your mobile consumer to interact with all that useful data.  If you get this one wrong…. you’ll lose because you could have well-defined and focused functionality, but if it’s cumbersome for the user, they’ll move on to a competitor as fast as you can say “delete”.

Good luck with your mobile apps!

Floodstock August 15, 2007

Posted by fredillies in Life Balance, Music, Uncategorized.
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These are the songs I performed at Floodstock:
First Day of My Life (Bright Eyes)
Fall for Anything (Jeremy Fisher)
Fixin’ to Die Rag (Country Joe McDonald) –
Fire & Rain (James Taylor
Creep (Radiohead)
Teach Your Children (CSNY) –
Falling Slowly (Glen Hansard)
Bobcaygeon (The Tragically Hip)
I’ve Just Seen a Face (Beatles)
Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps (Cake) –
Delicate (Damien Rice)
Gimme One Reason (Tracey Chapman) –
Prison on Route 41 (Iron & Wine)
Each Coming Night (Iron & Wine)

..that was all I had time for before the sound guys packed it in for the night.