Another Mobile Monday on fragmentation of platforms, but this time hosted by a big company just about to launch yet another platform… The Microsoft reps seemed to come on a little strong tonight. So much so that I started to tune out when it was their turn to talk.
Nick Lansley from Tesco.com was a new face at Mobile Monday — and had some good things to say. He seems to have his head screwed on right about where to take Tesco.com in the face of multiple platforms and a wide spread of consumers (it’s the API, stoopid).
Tom Hume of Future Platforms also gave some interesting insights — I like his idea of using an AdWords campaign to figure out the target platforms for a new product. It’s always better to measure than to guess — and the internet lets you measure everything.
Alex Reeve - Director of Mobile Business Group, MSFT UK
- it’s fair to say that MS have had their challenges in the mobile industry
- they’re fully aware of that and they’re aware that “a new dawn is coming”
- mobile is enormously important to MS
- Windows 7 coming this side of Xmas
- integrating contact details & social connections
- options to show thing separately or together
- keeping pictures together (including Facebook, etc)
- “people want Internet Explorer on their phone”
- do they really? don’t they just want Facebook/Yahoo/BBC, etc
- fully-editable Word documents
- email works the same as Outlook
- I hope not… that would be horrible
- “Zune is mainly a product in the US only”
Panel (and their phones):
- Chair: Marek Pawlowski
- this is no longer just about mobile — platforms to support now extend to TVs, games consoles, etc…
- nearly all devices can do voice
- most can do SMS, and a lot have browsers and Java
- Q1 this year about 18% of mobile sales were smartphones
- 11% of market by end of this year will be smartphones
- 3/4 of developers use an Android or an iPhone as their primary device…
- Oded Ran - Windows Phone in the UK
- Windows Phone - HDT HD2
- Tom Hume - MD of Future Platforms
- Nexus One
- Nick Lansley - Head of R&D at Tesco.com
- iPhone, Nexus One (which crashes 3 times a day)
- Jerry Ennis: CEO at Flirtomatic
- #1 mobile social network in UK, if not in Europe, according to Comscore
- though I guess it’s dwarfed by Facebook & twitter, which are social networks that people access on mobile…
- Ilio Uvarov - lead UX practice at RG/A London
- clients such as Nike, Nokia
Which mobile platform would you develop for first and why?
- NL: probably give a different answer every couple of months
- would like to choose most common in Tesco customer base, but that would mean a phone that’s incapable
- started with iPhone “because I had one”
- iPhone is a “hero device” — you get much more marketing for your buck
- but need to balance with what devices customers are using
- JE: started believing they could use downloadable Java apps
- but wasn’t really possible
- target market are not using Java apps, even if their phone is capable
- have instead gone to mobile web
- also seeing some startling usage growth from iPhone (Flirtomatic have an iPhone app that wraps a browser)
- TH: would probably cheat and spend £50 on an Adwords marketing campaign to see who was interested…
- IU: depends on target
- business people in NYC — Blackberry
- teenagers in middle east — Blackberry
- hipsters in London — iPhone
What can platform providers provide to developers to attract them?
- OR: don’t want to write once, debug across multiple hardware
- want to make money
- choose to piggyback on a platform launching (someone else’s marketing muscle)
- NL: iPhone and Android offer push update notifications
- really important — bug fixes are v. important to customer experience
- Ovi falling down massively here
- Apple also making things difficult by making updates take up to two weeks
- JE: Flirtomatic app is just a wrapper around mobile web app
- can’t take advantage of native aspects
- but changes can be deployed very quickly without going through Apple
Who in the audience had a bad experience of starting out on a mobile platform?
- TouchNote: went for Nokia 3rd edition (Symbian) & Ovi store
- just not a lucid, easy experience for customers, even in comparison to Blackberry, let alone iPhone & Android
Who’s had a good experience?
- No one put up their hands!!
Do customers really take updates?
- TH: 60-70% take updates for android
- would imagine iPhones are about the same
- Java apps are almost impossible to get customers to update
- NL: always offer new features with bug fixes
- every time Tesco update the Tesco Finder app, they see 99.9% of new version by the end of that day!
- IU: have about 100 pending updates on his iPhone
- end up not using 90% of apps that you’ve downloaded
- MP: 70% of mobile web users went to 10 major brands
MS have developer lock-in for tools, will they lock-in legally like Apple?
- Silverlight & XNA plus mobile web are main ways to market on Windows Phone 7
- Haven’t finished Ts&Cs yet
Is it sustainable to support so many platforms, or will we see consolidation?
- TH: we are seeing consolidation around the web
- don’t feel intimidated by number of platforms, as only have to deal with those that provide an audience
- feel locked in to Apple not by legal language, but by the audience that they provide
What can platform providers do to make a new platform attractive?
- don’t make us write the app in Silverlight — let us write it in C#
- reveal the number of apps in the store — no hype
- charge less than Android & Apple (30%)
- make it easy for customers to buy cheap things with enough money going to developers
Which platform gives the best ROI? How does mobile web compare?
- JE: make money with virtual currency (80% revenues), rest from advertising
- how do we bill people to buy virtual currency?
- operator billing (reverse SMS), credit card, paypal
- still 60/40, 70/30 — not so good
- credit card still cheapest for business
- Apple don’t let you use in-app purchases for virtual currency…
- TH: not sure that there’s a link
- look to introduce customers with operator billing and then convert repeat customers to credit card later
- JE: operator billing is a terrible UX — sometimes a 12-step process
- not as bad in UK, but US can be really bad
What about emerging markets? What are platforms doing?
- OR: active in two sides, services (Hotmail, etc) & devices
- phone becomes 1st screen
- exploring new ways of getting hold of the phone, since Windows Phone is not targeted at emerging markets
- NL: when Tesco arrives in a market, it could be said to have “emerged” already…
- “Tesco in a box” — all systems for a new country shipped out
- MP: discussing India with major internet brand, responsible for UX
- because device is becoming primary, there are increasing number of smartphones
- also multiple SIM cards for each user (up to 12!!)
- Italians have 1.77 SIM cards per subscriber, cf. 1.4 UK & 1.3 in US
Multiple platforms outside of mobile
- IU: depends on the use-case
- things that work nicely across channels: e.g. instapaper
- boxee: combining web, mobile & TV (can use mobile as remote)
- NL: did ethnographic research in people’s homes as to how they shop
- calling on phones, SMS, writing messages on paper
- wanting to allow people to add things little and often throughout the week
- have cheated by building an API to get other people to create apps
- e.g. Yahoo widgets on TV: watch cooking show, and add ingredients while you watch
- TH: big fan of opening up API, but how does that work as a provider? are you worried about the customer contact being mediated via a third party?
- NL: grocery shopping is not really exciting to customers
- would rather get great ideas in front of customers
- customers still have to login and checkout on Tesco site
What about voice as a platform?
- TH: Google introduced voice search and changed his behaviour
- MP: need to be very careful about experience:
- experience was significantly enhanced when interacting with an avatar
- JE: tried out a voice part of app a year or two ago
- watched my teenage daughter who never talks to people, but uses text & facebook instead
- MP: is that an opportunity? getting people to use their unused minutes!
How do you handle that your app is living on a phone with others?
- NL: Nexus One had an app using up all his minutes when in US
- data hogging apps rapidly become unpopular
- TH: it’s one of the important things that makes the difference between mobile and desktop
- number one feature on the iPad is battery life
What about upcoming standards: JIL, BONDI?
- NL: if you don’t make your app the best it can possibly be for that device then don’t bother
- MP: customers have one device — they’re not bothered by fragmentation
- IU: kept going back to UX
- do you want to be good enough or delightfully different
- JE: all about UX — the best possible UX is using the latest features of any platform, rather than going cross-platform
- payment is crucial, runs across different platforms
- needs to be improved, simplified and cheaper for business
- NL: has to be relentlessly good design for every make and model of handset
- gives you brand consistency
- TH: root causes of fragmentation are a good thing
- mass market (2/3rds of world’s population) and extremely fast rate of change
- developers have to get used to it
- OR: successful developers are embracing the fact that fragmentation is here to stay
- MP: “can economise on plumbing but make sure your bathroom is pretty bling”
- Microsoft BizSparkCamp: June 22nd 9.30-5.30
- “they want to give you things…”
- July - MomoLondon: Marketing your mobile app
- August - MomoLondon break
- September 10th & 11th - OverTheAir 2010