Sometimes we find ourselves in funny situations, where we think our past experience is going to help get us out of a bind. We have faced a problem before, so naturally we know what needs to be done the next time. But is next time really ever the same? What I’m getting at here is that the mobile ecosystem is not the personal computer ecosystem. On the face of it they seem very similar. There is a data service over the network; there are client apps or browsers to visualize the data. We have software to build logic and create a nice user interface. We have been doing this for almost two decades on the PC so what is the big deal. That thinking is exactly what is getting us in trouble when it concerns mobile; we are so use too seeing the world in a PC-centric way, that we just cannot help ourselves. Let me give you a couple of quick real-life discussions I have had with people, and these are smart people, mind you. Names have been changed to protect those that need to be protected ;)
Mark Z. and I were having a discussion about getting notifications on a phone and he pointed out that he has been doing this for years now via email and SMS. “So why Lonnie, are you so big on native push notifications?” It is a fair question and I responded, “See Mark, it is about what you do after you get that notification. We have technology to better manage that notification for you when it comes in and we can integrate that message into a client app that allows you to get to the answer as quickly and easily as possible. See, a notification always requires an action of some kind, and that is what we need to focus on – what the next step is. Provide that to a user and we have moved beyond text messages and email.”
Warren B. and I were talking at Starbucks about having something like a Process Book display on a phone or tablet, and he pointed out that it has already been done. He pulls out his phone and remote desktops to his PC and pulls up a screen. “See,” he said, “do we really need to have an app for that?” My answer went along the lines of, Warren, you are my friend, and I value your opinion, but do you really think that screen is usable? We are looking at a desktop that is 7 times larger than your phone screen and designed for keyboard and mouse interaction, do you really think that is a solution that users would pay for?
Mark and Warren are my friends and I hope that one day they will understand what I’m getting at. Let’s look at the underlying issue here. Both are thinking with PC brains. They have been condition for years that we can make do with these kinds of solutions. They were good back in the day, so why not now?
I hope I have made my point here. We need to let go of how things were done in the past and try our hardest to embrace the new. Smart phones and tablets are not PCs. The have a different form and people interact with them in very different ways. Ways that are much more natural. When you are dreaming up the next big app, try to think in those terms, you will be way ahead of everyone else!
Thanks for reading!