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Windows Phone 7 – Wait and see

We are finally seeing Windows Phone 7 on the street.
I like.
  • Microsoft made the right decision in developing something completely new, rather than carrying forward the legacy of Windows Mobile.
  • Windows Phone 7 is geared towards consumer and I like the Xbox Live integration.
  • Windows Phone 7 is uniquely designed and stands out from competition in an innovative way.
  • Finally, Microsoft takes control of phone specifications and ensures a consistent user experience (that phone makers and carriers had a tendency to break).
I don’t like.
  • There is no global marketplace for apps. Saying that customers in unsupported markets have to register new international Live accounts just for apps is not a very good answer.
  • The platform is not feature complete. I miss tethering, copy & paste, multitasking, and a range of similarly missing features that competition has.
  • A zero market share.
In conclusion, the new phone has nice consumer potential, it is not yet a feature complete package (phone and marketplace) and the platform has a zero percent market share. Businesses wishing to explore the new app channel will be in a healthy wait-and-see mode. Wait-and-see will be the theme at least until 2012. By then Windows Phone 7 is likely to be feature complete, and businesses will have a market share number to consider and compare with competition. It’ll be an interesting year ahead!

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App Outlook #2 – We are hiring

The past couple of weeks I have visited clients in Paris, Amsterdam, Stockholm, Sandviken, Ystad… and many more cities. I’ll be on the road with Michiel Boreel, Sogeti CTO, in the US in early December. We’ll meet with US clients and will very likely identify new app related opportunities.
Apps are on the agenda everywhere. Here are some fundamental points in conclusion.
  1. Businesses in all sectors consider the app a new channel for business development
  2. There are three types of client requests: a) We have an app idea. Please help us. b) This is a completely new channel, please help us defining an app strategy. c) We need an app factory, a partner that can scale up to tens of simultaneous app projects.
  3. Businesses extend existing products and services to the app first, then start to apply creativity to explore the channel’s inherently unique characteristics
  4. The app phone user considers the app safe for financial transactions, for example buying books, movies and electronics.
  5. iPhone and Android are the two platforms that maintain their position as primary app platforms.
We are currently engaged in app development, app strategy and app factory projects. And frankly, one of the challenges I face is finding as many skilled iPhone and Android app designers, developers and testers, as we need. So, I’ll finish this post with a job offer. We are hiring.

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No apps for Windows Phone 7?

Apps are the major factor behind the success of any phone. Therefore I hope the rumor of no apps for Windows Phone 7 users is untrue.

Here is the rumor:
When Windows Phone 7 is available in stores, only users with US Live-IDs will have access to the Marketplace. Possibly other larger markets will be included, but the rumor has Swedish users waiting way into 2011 for downloading apps.

If true, I’m flabbergasted. Especially on a day like this, when iPhone and Android users worldwide have accounted for 7 billion downloads.

Keeping my fingers crossed, hoping the rumor is untrue.

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It’s about the downloads

So, you want to explore this new mobile channel. Have a product or service that you want to offer? Great!

Now, you need to decide where to make this product and service available. So many options…

There’s one billion Java-enabled phones on the planet. That’s more than iPhone and Android put together and then some. So, it’s a no brainer. If you want to reach most phone users with your app, build Java apps.

Not.

If one billion Java-phone users download near zero apps, then it makes no sense at all. It’s about the downloads, not number of phones.

Currently, only two platforms have users that look for, browse, download, buy and use apps: iPhone and Android.

Users of Symbian phones, Blackerry, and Windows Mobile have quite a few apps to choose from, but they don’t. Windows Phone 7 users will also have apps to choose from, but currently there are no Windows Phone 7 phones. And when they are released, for some obscure reason, Microsoft will allow users from only a few countries to download apps at all.

Then we have web apps for mobile devices. They are nice and HTML 5 is promising. But there are still no payment mechanism for web apps, and when given a choice between app and browser, the user chooses the app. This might change, but it hasn’t yet.

So, if you want to explore the new mobile channel, focus on apps, downloads and Android and iPhone. This will hold until 2012. At least.

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Tweets and readable articles

I follow a number of online magazines Twitter accounts. The majority of my Twitter use is done using the iPhone, so the way the publishing of an article is integrated with tweeting the same is important from a mobile client point of view.

There are at least two ways of doing this, one good and one bad.

The good way can be illustrated by looking at how Engadget behaves. First, look at how the tweet looks in the iPhone Twitter client:

I press the link, and I am taken to this nicely formatted and readable article:

However, had I clicked the link on my laptop, this is what it would look like:

You can see that Engadget detects that I am reading the article using a mobile device, and provides the article automatically in a readable format.

The bad way can be illustrated how Computer Sweden behaves. First, the tweet in the iPhone:

I press the link, and I am taken to this horrific experience:

Yes, you can see that Computer Sweden does detect that I am using a mobile device (the link in the upper part of the screen). But instead of directing me to the right article article, formatted nicely, I am presented with a link to the “mobile site”. If I press that link (first I need to zoom it, so I won’t accidentally press the ad), I still have to find the article I was interested in reading:

… then as I find it, you can see that the article does exist in a nicely formatted way:

As you can see, Computer Sweden readers have to take two extra steps to read the article. These two extra steps are most likely a threshold steep enough to keep them from reading the articles from their mobile devices.

My advice to online magazines/blogs is to make sure the user doesn’t have to take any unnecessary steps in reading the articles you tweet. Just make it easy.

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