The Novelty Era of Mobile is Officially Dead


Meet Your Phone

Remember the early iPhone commercial where the user double taps the New York Times website to zoom in on a photo? This was perfectly acceptable in 2008. In 2013 it’s a groan engendering exercise to happen onto a website not formatted for mobile display.

Double-tap and pinch to zoom interactions seemed groundbreaking just a few years ago. But how many four-finger swipes have you found yourself doing lately? If you happen onto a non-responsive website, you tap a column of text and hope it zooms width to something readable.

Going Back to the Future

Games made perfect sense for first generation mobile apps. They were self-contained, usually network independent experiences, that trained consumers on new interaction design patterns. Hmm, does that sound vaguely familiar?

Your potential customers no longer associate mobile apps with games, but with productivity. They are banking, paying bills, shopping, reserving hotel and travel, and of course, staying productive and connected with both home and office.

As always, consumers want fast, pleasing experiences. Scrolls, single-taps, and swipes dominate the bulk of the consumer-oriented apps we’re building at Modus Create.

Consumers expect content to be formatted for mobile delivery. Responsive design gave mobile web a huge surge in 2012. While responsive is great for consuming output (content), it is not so great for (user) input heavy apps.

The Tivo Versus DVR Problem

In the transition from Status Icon to Commodity, all products travel the lifecycle of introduction, growth, maturity, and decline. The MBAs out there will surely reference the Tivo business case in which the new product launch had to defend its brand value while other content providers added their own commoditized digital recording capabilities. For many consumers, by the time Tivo had developed enough awareness and interest in their tech, not only had the space been crowded with DVR offerings from Comcast and Verizon, but the entire digital recording industry was being threatened by video on demand and media streaming services.

What does the Tivo story imply for Mobile? As consumer behavior trends toward productivity and beyond novelty, there will be increasing pressure on Apple to get consumers migrated onto iCloud and its HTML5 app delivery play before competing ‘generic’ HTML5/Cloud based app stores edge out their proprietary ‘brand advantage.’ Tivo failed to evolve its feature set fast enough to stay ahead of generic competitors.

Apps to the Rescue (again)

The beauty of the smartphone is that the software it can run is virtually limitless. The primarily limiters are business model focused more so than technology constrained. The channel control (power) that Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Amazon (among others) will have to dictate revenue share in their channels will come down to how their integrated network play manifests as market share.

Integration to the Rescue

The smartphone itself is becoming passé. While at CES earlier this month, we we’re excited to see what happening with touch screens in cars and with connected TVs. While the line between phone and tablet blurs as device makers blunder around with “Phablets” and annoying (at this stage anyway) touch screen desktops, there are many wins to take notice of. Nike Fuel and Garmin’s K2 platform show lots of promise for extending the phone as a sync point for meaningful consumer experiences.

While the promise of more utility and practicality within mobile apps is not going to get your heart rate up, we believe this is the fertile ground for mobile to grow into in 2013.

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