At the recent Web 2.0 Conference here in San Francisco the founders of Zumobi, a mobile widget application, listed six attributes needed for success in the mobile space, summarized in Tom Krazit's One More Thing blog on CNET:
- Immediacy: the entire interaction with the device should occur with 15 seconds
- Adaptability: input on mobile devices is still a challenge and continues to evolve. Applications shouldn't depend on a single input method--it might become obsolete
- One-handed use: research shows that with mobile devices, people tend to create content with two hands and consume it with one hand. Mobile users consume far more content than they create, so devices should be optimized for this interaction.
- Visual elegance: devices such as the iPhone have raised the bar in terms of expectations about the visual user experience. Going forward, successful applications will need to meet or exceed these standards.
- Put the user in control: Based on their experience with PCs, users are used to a certain level of control over the desktop, applications, etc. The mobile market, now dominated by carriers, doesn't offer comparable configurability, but it should.
- Thinking differently: never forget, mobile is a whole new world; quite possibly the rules that govern the web don't apply. For example, while online applications aim to be "sticky," in mobile it's ok to be "bouncy," allowing people to dip in and out of the application quickly. If your application is easy to use on the go, people will come back frequently.
Meanwhile, yesterday's San Francisco Chronicle noted that in the US, the Latino demographic is the early and frequent adopter of a spectrum of mobile services beyond voice, including "messaging, downloading music, surfing the Web and e-mailing." A professor quoted in the article commented, "Things other people do on computers, a lot of Latinos do on cell phones."
It took marketers awhile to catch on to the power and vision of the Latino mobile opportunity. At first they had patronizing stereotypes that the demographic would prefer cheap, simplistic phones. On the contrary, Latinos were early adopters of the original $600 Motorola Razr. The Chronicle concludes, "Latinos are quick to embrace new technology, seeing in it a way to get ahead in life."
Finally, some of the observations in the Chronicle article came from a recent study by the Pew Internet and American Life Project on Mobile Access to Data and Information. The December 2007 survey reveals that 62% of American adults have accessed mobile data and tools, using either a mobile phone or PDA for a non-voice data application, or a wireless laptop connection. A majority of Americans (51%) now say their mobile phone would be the hardest technology to give up--ahead of the internet (45%), television (43%), and email (37%).
Currently 75% of Americans have a mobile phone and/or PDA. Of those, 77% have used the device for at least one non-voice application, and 42% say that they engage in mobile data activity on a typical day. The Pew study found a strong affinity between mobile data applications and the Latino market, where 84% have mobile phones. Regardless of ethnicity, age is also highly correlated with mobile data use: 96% of the 18-29 age group who have mobile phones have used them for at least one data application, and 73% say they do so on a typical day. In that demographic, 62% say it would be hard to do without a mobile phone, compared to 51% who feel that way about the internet.