Above the Crowd

Transitioning To a Mobile Centric World

July 17, 2013:

“If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.” — Freewill, Rush

If you happen to be a sports fan (I am), one of the coolest features to emerge in our lifetime is the ability to program your DVR remotely. The game is about to start, and you forgot to record it. No problem — you can simply talk to your DVR remotely. It’s like magic. When you get home your game is there. DirecTV has supported this feature for some time, initially on the Internet via the browser and more recently via their smartphone application. Ironically, the smartphone version of this experience renders the browser-based experience antiquated, even painful. On the browser, the DirecTV user is always required to sign-in, which is time consuming and tedious. Plus who remembers their TV provider’s login credentials? On the iPhone, the user is never required to log-in, which is a remarkable contrast. On the desktop navigating the schedule is cumbersome, slow, and deep in the feature hierarchy. On the smartphone it is quick, responsive, and right up front. When I am sitting at my desktop at work with the browser open and high-speed bandwidth at my fingertips and want to program my DVR, I pick up my iPhone.

For a large variety of applications and services, users favor mobile applications over browser based applications. Over 45% of Yelp’s* searches begin on mobile. For Zillow*, 50% of home views are now on mobile. For each and every Internet company out there, mobile is rising as a percentage of all user visits. Mobile applications are instantly accessible as the smartphone is always with you. The applications can also leverage mobile-only features such as GPS search and the camera interface. And many of them, like the DirecTV application, are simply designed better. Many will argue that there is a safe middle ground where you can “have your cake and eat it too” — the HTML5 based “mobile web.” Yet early user data disagrees. A recent Compuware survey found that 85% of users favor apps over the mobile web. Guess whose vote matters most?

When users greatly favor a new user experience over an old one (in this case the mobile application environment versus a browser based desktop environment), the implication is clear – we are in the middle of a critical platform transition. Platform transitions are rare, yet highly consequential. The first consumer-based transition was DOS to Windows in the late 1980s. Many fortunes were won and lost based on how well companies like Borland and Lotus executed this transition. Then came client-server, which also launched new winners at the expense of older incumbents. The next obvious transition was the rise of the browser in 1996, which transformed not only the software application market but also the print and media world. The browser-based Internet launched many new companies, several of which have achieved market capitalizations in the billions. Most interestingly, new company wealth (pure play Internet companies) far exceeds “transitioned wealth” (incumbent companies transitioning their model successfully to the new platform). TripAdvisor and Yelp rule the day, not Frommers and Zagat. Likewise Priceline and Expedia rule travel, not some travel company that existed pre-Internet. Google, Yahoo, Ebay, Facebook, and Twitter rule the Internet, not Microsoft.

We are now seeing a new transition – away from the browser and back towards stand-alone applications, this time on mobile devices. We are also seeing the emergence of mobile-only companies whose presence is singularly focused on mobile as opposed to the browser based Internet.  Key examples include Instagram*, Uber*, Snapchat*, and a variety of game companies like Rovio, Supercell, and Natural Motion*. This critical platform shift should weigh heavily on the minds of all companies that have something to lose; primarily browser-based Internet incumbents. The stakes are quite high, and it may even be too late.

As we transition from one world to another the rules are changing under out feet. The development tools are different, and the development objectives have changed. The distribution techniques are completely new. On the browser, SEO and SEM are paramount, but the equivalent tools on mobile are either non-existent or at best immature. Living in the middle of these two worlds simultaneously creates interesting and unique challenges. Yet the consequences of not playing are high. Here are some key considerations as you look to map the mobile application transition for your own company.

  1. Design takes on a greater role. Users favor mobile applications that are crisp, clean, and quickly responsive. My partner Matt Cohler has written that the smartphone is a “remote control for your life.” This is a clever metaphor that succinctly specifies the objectives for an ideal mobile application. Like a remote control, it should be quickly responsive, and do what you want with very few button clicks. The Uber* experience is a great example. Press a button, receive a ride, and everything else disappears – even payment is automated. Websites do not always have this same “one-click” usability expectation, and as a result web designers can easily come up short by building mobile applications that are overly complex. The limited screen real estate , and limited user-attention on the smartphone forces better design decisions. Lastly, lower mobile bandwidth (versus the desktop) increases the consumer benefit of pre-cached content and UI.
  2. Feature depth is inherently limited. Consumers clearly dislike deeply nested features on mobile phones. They prefer the remote control “one button” experience. They want to get in, solve their problem, and be done. This is challenge for larger feature-rich sites like Facebook and Yahoo, and a real benefit for focused best-of-breed providers like Instagram. It is also why YouTube, Google Maps, Facebook messenger and Vine are separate from their mothership. This limited depth concept is huge and vastly misunderstood. Mobile values the single solution, one sharp blade rather than a Swiss army knife.
  3. Development complexity is a reality as we transition. Not only do you have to continue to support the desktop web, but now each company must develop and test for iOS and multiple flavors of Android. These may not be skills you have in-house. Plus the design elements of the app world are different, implying that your desktop web developers may not be good at mobile app design. If that were not enough, you now have to support the “mobile web” platform also to capture any users that have not downloaded your application. Unfortunately, this is table stakes. You don’t get to choose not to play. One might think that this type of complexity favors larger companies with more resources. However, this is offset by the fact that larger mature companies typically lack the skills and the adaptability to develop quickly on new platforms. Complexity in this case favors the newcomer.
  4. HTML5 is a head-fake. Due to the design complexity outlined above, many developers attempt to short-cut the system by blending elements of the desktop or mobile web world into their applications (or will argue to simply wrap HTML in a container and call that a mobile app). This is a dangerous decision where the developer is optimizing for themselves and not the user. You should never optimize developer convenience over user experience. One high profile example of this is ESPN ScoreCenter. You move through the different leagues and scores with blinding speed. However, try to download detailed stats and you can see the app open an embedded browser and load a web page. A user cannot help but feel cheated as they wait for this “page” to load. Does ESPN not have enough resources to build a fully native iPhone app?
  5. SEO non-presence is hugely consequential. One of the key reasons that mobile apps have a cleaner design is the absence of SEO (search engine optimization). Design on the desktop web has been compromised by the need to intersect with Google’s search paradigm. This is the same reason no one uses Adobe’s Flash on leading web sites. “Links,” “deep linking,” and “structured taxonomy” are fundamental design requirements for the desktop web. No one can afford to risk losing their SEO mojo. Mobile changes that paradigm, and most of the emerging mobile-first companies listed above are non-SEO focused. As an example, Twitter’s lack of an SEO centric product made mobile app design much more straight-forward. Of course, the absence of SEO may be positive for design, but it removes a key customer acquisition strategy for many startups. Deep linking into apps is emerging as a new paradigm, but this is primarily a tool of incumbents with a large previous SEO presence.
  6. The core concept of “search” is in transition. Search plays a completely different role on the desktop than it does on the smartphone. On the browser, nearly every activity starts with search. On the smartphone, apps replace search as a starting point. Consider the case when you are curious about the weather forecast? On the browser you might simply type “weather 94025” into the browser. On the smartphone you never do this. The same could be said for an Amazon search, a Yelp search, or a LinkedIn search. On the smartphone, these searches start in the application. This trend is quite positive for early smartphone application leaders.
  7. A locked-in mobile application user is worth more than a desktop user. Talk to any leading Internet company, and they will echo this philosophy. The logic is that once a user goes through the trouble of downloading an application and committing their limited screen real estate, they are now a more committed user that will use your app more frequently and churn less. These early applications leaders become functional “goto” apps for the user (i.e. Yelp for local). Going to a competitor is not as simple as doing another search, or clicking on another link. You have to go to the trouble to download a whole new application and learn a whole new navigation interface.
  8. Customer acquisition techniques are shifting. Startups like tried and true browser-centric customer acquisition techniques like SEO and SEM, but the mobile app world is different. To make matters worse, no new systematic customer acquisition model has emerged. Embedded placement deals would seem likely on Android (they were prevalent on feature phones), but this environment still feels nascent. More surprisingly, neither Apple nor Google offer the equivalent of SEM slots alongside their app store taxonomy (although this appears quite common in China). This represents a huge missed opportunity for both platform providers, and a missing resource for companies that wish to pay to acquire users (of which we all know there are many).
  9. Payment could be a new platform battleground. Continuing with the “remote control” theme, users will clearly want payment to disappear into their button-pushing experience. Many large credit-card/credential holders such as Amazon, Apple, Ebay/Paypal, and Google, have a great deal at stake in this battle. And of course, incumbents like Visa, Mastercard, Chase Paymentech and Bank of America have a view, as do disrupters such as Square, Braintree, Stripe, and Swipely. Even the large physical retailers see this as an opportunity to pry themselves out from under the 2%+ credit card payment fee. They have created an entity called MCX precisely with this in mind. We have been waiting 15 years (remember Microsoft Passport?) for one-button payment. Whoever delivers will be in a very strong strategic position, especially if they can also disrupt the processing fee. But prepare for a battle royal.
  10. The platforms are still evolving. iOS and Android are dynamic platforms, and both Apple and Google are still evolving their corporate strategy for each. Google would likely favor an HTML centric world that returns search on the smartphone to the central place it holds on the browser (notice the recent voice search announcement). As they invented the app-centric Smartphone world we inhabit, Apple is likely to keep pushing in this direction. They even brought the app store backwards to the Mac desktop OS. Lastly, competitive dynamics may force each provider “up the stack” eating into the app ecosystem. We have seen this be the case with both music and maps.

Who are in winners in a mobile application centric world? In the near term, a continued move towards a more app-centric world is a big boon for the application providers who have made the transition to mobile and “locked-in” real estate on user’s mobile devices. Not only is the app “locked-in,” but so is the navigation know-how, which clearly creates switching costs for new entrants. Users will only keep a small number of brands on their smart-phone, and they start their activities in these apps – not with a traditional search engine. This is not to say we will not see new entrants – witness Snapchat. But the combination of lock-in and a lack of a truly liquid new distribution hooks will favor the “new incumbent” mobile leaders.

The biggest losers will be the web incumbents who do not understand the rules of the new road, or the consequences of missed execution. Anyone lost in the desktop world who fails to appreciate the criticality of the mobile-first mindset is subject to demise. Consumers prefer mobile and they prefer mobile apps to the mobile web. Deny that reality at your own risk.

A few weeks back, Nextdoor* – the leading social network for your neighborhood – launched their much-anticipated mobile application for iOS. This anticipation emanated directly from the user community, where a mobile application has long been the most requested feature. The first several reviews on the iTunes store included comments such as “I’ve been waiting to use Nextdoor via my iPhone after joining my neighborhood almost 7 months ago. So happy to see this finally launched!,” and “…the iPhone app turns Nextdoor into an even better tool.” Some of the reviewers even threw out this juicy comment – “this is better than the desktop application.”  An increasingly common refrain.

*Benchmark is an investor in these companies.

34 Comments

  1. Drew Meyers July 17, 2013

    At first it was browsers – tons of testing and resources had to go into testing and optimizing for each of the various browsers (& versions). Then, just as browsers advanced to a point where it became relatively straight forward to build a website that works across all browsers without a huge headache….mobile hits and makes it even more expensive and time consuming to meet the user where they are. Now we’re back to a fragmented, expensive development process again for those brands that wish to be able to serve all users regardless of device (that’s all of us). A challenging world indeed.

    Reply
  2. William Mougayar July 17, 2013

    How about mobile / local advertising? Unless I missed it, I don’t think you covered where you see the future of mobile advertising going.

    Reply
    • bgurley July 17, 2013

      No I didn’t. Screen real estate is very limited, and that requires that the ad unit be very native to the user experience. This means “in line” rather than “beside”. Good examples are Twitter and Zillow.

  3. Jerry July 17, 2013

    I have a business that specializes in finding classic collectible cars, guitars and antiques and either keeping them or restoring them and reselling them. Do you know of any app’s out there that would be appropriate to download and monitor or list items for sale on? For instance my most recent acquisition is a 1942 German Waffen Q64 SS Double Label
    Infantry Helmet
    . This helmet is pristine and really one of a kind and I’m only asking $33,000 for it.

    Reply
    • Scott July 17, 2013

      Native apps also have the added benefit of not having any problems with spammers… yet.

  4. Ric July 17, 2013

    Bill I find that your lack of mentioning mobile advertising totally refreshing! I think the draconian ad platform that mobile serves today is going away whether people like it or not.

    Innovation in consumer targeting will come eventually and the bad ROI on conventional mobile ads will drive it! I know for me and many friends – they avoid companies that use obtrusive advertising. You muck up my experience enough and I will never buy from you again.

    Eventually the arrogant pricks in the corporate world will have to listen!

    Reply
  5. Vishal Bathija July 17, 2013

    #6 is a huge threat to Google’s core business. Interested to see what they do mitigate this threat

    Reply
    • bgurley July 17, 2013

      The fact that they own Android is an amazingly strong defensive asset.

    • Dan July 19, 2013

      You’re kidding right? As if google are all about search nowadays. Did you notice they have the most popular mobile OS to their name? And google Play apps, music etc. They’re well ahead of the curve on mobile.

    • Nikita Tovstoles August 16, 2013

      +1. Sub

    • Nikita Tovstoles August 16, 2013

      +1. Sun owned Java and well-regarded Unix flavor but that didn’t save the company. Google owns Android but time will tell if they can actually drive defensible revenue from it. Web search advertising remains vast majority of their revenue.

  6. Keith Teare July 17, 2013

    Bill,

    Great that you articulated this. I think of it as the end of the Web 2.0 architecture of cloud apps and browser and the replacement by Mobile Apps and the cloud as glue. I have written about it on TechCrunch quite a bit – here – http://www.crunchbase.com/person/keith-teare/posts; and specifically here – http://techcrunch.com/2011/08/27/smart-mobile-thin-cloud/.

    I think one of your points may be incorrect – the single use simple app may be a temporary thing. There are good reasons to simplify and integrate some features (like camera. video camera and messaging with the address book for example). We do that at just.me.

    I agree re advertising – check out this patent filing, its all about an organic mobile monetization strategy – http://patentscope.wipo.int/search/en/detail.jsf?docId=WO2013067209&recNum=233&docAn=US2012063103&queryString=((num&

    Reply
    • clive boulton July 20, 2013

      Surely the more compelling mobile user experience is providing the ability for users to selectively pull branded ads of interest to the mobile device rather continuing with targeting?

  7. tigger July 17, 2013

    I, too, am a big fan of mobile apps. They have fundamentally different engagement characteristics vs. html (mobile or non-mobile).

    HTML on our large site tends to be similar regardless of mobile/non-mobile (i.e., broad engagement, low active user engagement, low retention).

    Our Mobile Apps tend to be more niche focused (less broadly used) and with very high pv/uu engagement (30X that of html). The worst metric and the one that demands the most attention for mobile apps is retention/attrition. Like most apps, our challenge is getting people to not uninstall the app.

    Also, there are massive infrastructure implications behind this shift. If Dropbox and their kind can sync my files, do I really need a massive cloud/server infrastructure? Sometimes and in limited ways, yes. This removes a huge barrier to entry in some areas and hurts a core advantage of facebook and google, operating at scale.

    Reply
  8. Mark Phillip July 17, 2013

    Wholeheartedly agree. The mobile phone is often the most intimate device we have, and it’s ability to remote control the world around is only going to grow.

    As a die-hard sports fan myself, we’re innovating in the Living Room to do just that.

    Reply
  9. SRassouli July 17, 2013

    I think the lack of advertising real-estate on mobile apps will likely act as an impediment to this shift. Mobile ads continue to be lower priced performance-driven ads, whereas the real advertising dollars are currently in brand ads.

    Hard to foresee any real evolution in mobile ad creatives and formats. screen size will remain an issue, followed by connectivity, battery life, etc.

    Reply
  10. Marco Pizzo July 18, 2013

    good analysis but lacking advertising, special offers (couponing would be the right word but inflationated), curation and affiliation. All of these will be crucial (with the points you explained) to define new ecosystems that want to monetize the customers purchasing journey

    Reply
  11. David J July 18, 2013

    Superb analysis. Thank you, Bill.

    I’d add another item to your list from personal experience (I lead product development for Seeking Alpha, the crowd-sourced equity research platform; we have over two million registered users and 1.1 million subscribers to our real time email alerts, and are also a Benchmark portfolio company):

    Apps must target a single, tightly defined audience: This is a result of inherently limited feature depth and the irrelevance of SEO in mobile. This is a sea-change from the web. Websites could target multiple audiences, because they could offer an array of features for different audiences, and aggregating audiences led to greater traffic, more inbound links, and therefore better SEO.

    We’ve seen this firsthand. Seeking Alpha’s website caters to multiple sub-communities, such as investors focused on dividends, investors focused on tech, and investors focused on ETFs and macro trends. Our website offers sections for each of them. But the limited feature depth of mobile makes that impossible, so we’ve launched a series of apps for these subgroups — Tech Investor, Dividend Investor, ETF Investor, and Energy Investor.

    The surprise is that these apps provide a significantly better user experience than our website does, because it’s easier to optimize for a single audience than multiple audiences. For example, portfolios on our website are the same for every group, because even though we offer options for customization, in practice the default rules on the web. But a dividend investor wants to see different data on their stocks than a tech investor, and now we can offer that customization by default in our Dividend Investor and Tech Investor apps.

    As a result, our prioritization of mobile is leading to greater understanding of our audience’s needs, and improved products. For example, our Tech Investor app already offers far better news, analysis and functionality for tech investors than any general investing website or app, and over time the gap will widen further.

    Reply
  12. Viko July 18, 2013

    At Ve-Go, we couldn’t agree more — we’re your remote control for hotel travel! We provide users complete control of the most important details of their stay — booking, remote check-in & room selection prior to arrival, remote check out and receipt retrieval, and direct re-booking — with simple functionality in a native mobile app! Book. Stay. Go.

    Visit us at Ve-Go.com and send us your suggestions on Twitter @VeGoMobileApps

    Reply
  13. Michael Mullany July 18, 2013

    Bill, I think it’s really important to distinguish between HTML5 the technology, and mobile web sites as many people have implemented them. If you design your site correctly, and use a framework that manages the quirks of mobile web – you can produce a fast responsive experience that is as satisfying (or unsatisfying) as a native one. We proved this with Fastbook – the HTML5 clone of Facebook: http://www.sencha.com/blog/the-making-of-fastbook-an-html5-love-story – that we built specifically to combat HTML5 misunderstandings like this.

    The problem that we face is not the technology’s limitations, it’s web developers taking the square peg tools and mindset that they’ve used for the desktop web and trying to jam them into the round hole of the mobile web. Then you get the type of experience you got on Facebook’s gen #1 mobile app. Or you get the equally bad experience we see from desktop web transcoding where sometimes the entire desktop web page is downloaded and restyled on the fly in the mobile browser.

    Not all app experiences can or should be HTML5, but simply saying that native mobile is the only way to go for every user experience is lacking in nuance and thoughtfulness.

    Reply
  14. Aditya Rustgi July 18, 2013

    Constraints in life are a source of inspiration.

    One of the reasons why mobile experience is so suited for task oriented interactions, is because the medium forces the designers to make tough choices. While earlier, the designers could escape making these choices by taking ‘do all of the above’ route to design decisions, the mobile medium forces the designers and product managers to really consider what exactly they are enabling their users to accomplish. What is really important in a mobile context and what is not?

    Good design and consequently good user experience comes from forcing yourself to ask tough questions, really digging in to understand what matters and them making tough choices.

    Reply
    • bgurley July 18, 2013

      Funny you bring that up. I was at a conference on innovation last week where this was one of the key themes. Constraints lead to innovation, not open endedness. Totally agree.

  15. Jack Guo July 19, 2013

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts Bill.

    On HTML5 vs. Apps, its arguable that accessing a browser is habitual for many people, whether its on desktop or mobile, and HTML5 adoption is essential and user experience will improve over time as technology & human capital figures out the best ways to utilize the platform.

    On Google, not only is Android a great asset, but Chrome with its 750 active user is another great starting point!

    Reply
  16. Ty Wang July 19, 2013

    First of all, you had me at “Freewill”.

    Back in 2000, I joined a enterprise software startup that was in the business of optimizing page rendering onto mobile devices at the time. The joys of WAP, GPRS, and Windows CE. I remember after a multi-day strategy session a year or so in, we came up with three words that would define what we did: mobile task automation. People wanted specific key tasks (e.g. pharma sales rep) stripped down to its essence for mobile. Fingers get clumsier and eyes get worse, but one thing remains the same: people want fast and simple when it comes to mobile.

    Thanks for the great post. Energizing!

    Reply
  17. Lisa Marie July 20, 2013

    A cell phone app, sometimes called a mobile app, is any cell phone application, particularly those that are directly purchased and installed by phone users. These are smartphone add-ons that perform functions other than making a phone call, ranging from games to medical monitoring. To term “app” can be used to refer to any application for any device, but when used alone, it most commonly refers to software downloaded onto cell phones.

    Reply
  18. Rocky Agrawal July 20, 2013

    Great list. One other reason mobile experiences are so much better: designers and engineers can’t get iPhones that are 10x better than what consumers get.

    Whenever I walk into a company, many of the people designing products are using the latest, greatest workstations with RAM and processors that are much better than that of the typical user. Even companies that should know better: I’ve seen Google+ take 20% of my CPU while seemingly doing nothing.

    With mobile, designers are eating their dog food out of the same size bowl.

    Reply
  19. Alex Iskold July 21, 2013

    Bill,

    An excellent and in-depth post capturing all the details of the transition and picking up on the key challenges. I have a few thoughts:

    1. I don’t know if native vs HTML5 is a clear cut answer. You will recall that web took off partly because people didn’t have to download anything. I think that until upgrades on all app platforms are automated and seamless (which bumps into issues like privacy, etc.) hybrid apps are the way to go.

    Especially for things that are content based and require rapid iteration having native apps on N platforms is difficult. All of them are on diff release cycles, and then people spend time re-inventing the wheel for each platform only to see then platform change and move away from them.

    My sense is having native shell and everything that makes sense to be native without sacrificing UX should for sure be native. Then content can be HTML5 if it affords over all better product both from the perspective of UX and updates.

    2. I think there is another problem that seems to be acute – repeat discoverability of the downloaded app on mobile device. I am ascetic and have only 2 screens of apps on my iphone, including all the apps I use + apps I am researching. Most people’s phones have dozens of screens. Organizing and finding the apps is nearly impossible. There is a steep power law curve between Twitter, Yelp, and likes and the rest of the world.

    In addition to lack of search-based user acquisition there is also a need to better organize the apps on the device.

    Alex

    Reply
  20. George Bresnan July 24, 2013

    In this era, when the world is transitioning towards mobile environment, the need for better reliable solutions for the Business and Enterprise sector is growing. Mumba Cloud is trying to satisfy this need of the industry. This company has provided wonderful solutions for the Enterprise Social Network needs of my company.

    Reply
  21. Sylvain July 25, 2013

    The concept of mobile as a remote control for your life was part of Orange IPO documents….many many years before the mentioned article…

    Reply
  22. Brand Winnie August 5, 2013

    Bill you make some great points but I have to respectfully disagree with your thoughts here because in the end, it’s going to come down to the developers and where they can get the best distribution and monetization.

    That will in no doubt be the web, due to its ability to give devs an open platform to utilize a single codebase. I wrote some in-depth thoughts on this awhile back about why the web will win. Please check it out here: http://brand.seshn.com/why-the-web-will-win/

    Reply
  23. Chad Person August 23, 2013

    Great article Bill!

    On #9 –
    I’m deeply invested in the UX side of the mobile payment space, and I have to say ‘Battle Royale’ may be an understatement…

    That said, the competition to deliver a simple secure payment process on mobile devices may not be answered by one player/solution – out of necessity.

    In our research and experience, it’s obvious that consumers want an easier way to buy things. But, the payments landscape is really fragmented, so in order to deliver good UX we have to address the where (mobile web, app, email, game, store etc.) and how (phone, tablet, wearables, PIN) of the of buying experience. It’s unlikely a single button solution will emerge to serve every technology. More likely, we’ll see a new set of payment solutions emerge that share a very similar (and simple) user experience.

    For example, at @Pay we focus on secure payments by email. If the UX works equally well inside an app, great! But, we may or may not be the company behind that solution…

    Reply
  24. sanjay September 1, 2013

    Good points from a business perspective-mobile and computers are different beasts. But what is the basic difference?
    There are really three. Screen size, Weight of the device, and the Keyboard (touch interface) or the lack of a keyboard. These three are not independent. *But the main thing which makes a mobile different is it’s Screen size-it is much smaller than of a computer.*
    You can install a phone pad on your laptop computer (e.g. a skype dialpad), and that will do all jobs of a phone, but you won’t call it a mobile phone. You still think of it as a laptop. Something makes it still a laptop. And that is the screen size.
    A mobile phone is a laptop which is much smaller in size (and is lighter in weight, and has a smaller keyboard, or none at all-touch screen).
    Laptop technology will keep involving on the weight side-to make laptops eventually as small as mobile phones. That will make carrying them around easier.
    But the larger screen size (which is the same as the overall size) will always be a problem; and that’s the reason you lug around your mobile phone more than even your 10 inch laptop (Netbook). One goes into your pocket and sits on your dinner table in a restaurant-the other still is inconvenient to carry. *The large screen size of a laptop is the reason you don’t carry it around as easily as your mobile phone.*

    The smaller mobile screen also makes it easier for you to look at stuff without bothering other people-e.g. in a subway ride, or sitting in a conference. Not easy to do with your Netbook.

    If you think of optimizing UX for a very small screen, the problem becomes just one. You have to present the most essential stuff of what you do. Some simply can’t be done (Autocad, Excel), but others can be. Google Search is difficult to do on a phone, but with voice, Google is giving it a shot.

    In the end, it simply becomes a problem of size, and it does matter…

    Sanjay
    sanjay@fonisol.com

    Reply
  25. Vivek September 4, 2013

    Users have voted +1 for mobile simplicity, designs and accesibility. But that should not mean bearing custom app development overheads is the only way forward. The app ecosystem itself needs to evolve. Developers’ lives need not be hell, they are users as well and their lives have to be made better. Both Android and iOS app ecosystems need to think a lot for the developer community as well. Right now finding a suitable app on any app-store is an amateurish experience at best…

    Reply
  26. Andy R October 2, 2013

    “Who are the losers in a mobile centric world”?

    The people who use computers for complex tasks instead of the simpler possibilities of the mobile, who lose out on their rich experience as we try to write “one size fits all” software and web pages. Some web sites that were great on the PC have become rubbish thanks to smartphone redesign, not to mention the attractive graphics that are being thrown away so we can crowd around tiny screens.

    Yes, Smartphones were good inventions but it says a lot about the nature of people when they are willing to do without a PC if they have one. For one thing it says that people do not understand the rich and complex possibilities of a computer. For another, it says too many of us value ultra simplicity over taking a little effort to learn something much more versatile.

    On my PC the other day, I saved a streamed FLV video to a file, whilst watching another from the same site – then paused the second and viewed the first in a compeltely different viewer. All not difficult at all in the PC, near as damn mpossible on the (not so) Smart phone.

    Reply

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