Tag Archives | iphone

In the footsteps of the web: the app

You will quickly realize where the app is heading, if you understand how the web has evolved. The app takes the same route and follows the same patterns, yet many times quicker.
Do you remember when everyone should have a home page but few really knew why? The company’s first home page was at best a digital brochure. Many home pages were just incoherent flashing graphics, scrolling text in bright colors, and the browser often started playing music when the first page was shown…
Many companies’ first apps are in the same way the result of projects driven by the statement: “You must have an app!” even though not everyone really understands. Digital brochures dressed up as apps are pushed out, just as the home pages of the past.
More users discovered the web. The home page became the web site, and the company’s marketing department took over responsibility. The web site became strategic marketing. The company’s customers searched for and found product information, and the web site soon got a central position in marketing campaigns. Apps that communicate brand and product information become increasingly common. Strong brands are early adopters, often with creative and new ideas. Did you see the newspaper ad with a white rectangle in the middle of the ad? Download the app, put your phone on the ad and press “Play”:

Another example is IKEA who has put their entire catalogue into an app and integrated current stock levels in all stores.
The web site became integrated with back office systems for customer and order management. E-commerce was born. Today we see goods being booked, reserved and purchased online, in all business sectors. The development of the web site is coordinated between marketing, sales and business developers in the board of directors.
New apps for e-commerce are launched in an increasing pace. Consumer electronics retailer Dustin just announced that they forecast almost $2 million of sales through their app, in the first year. Pizza Hut recently reported that they’ve sold pizzas worth $7 million through their app. More services and products are marketed with the statement that they can also be used and reached through an app.
The web’s new collaborative features such as blogs, wikis, feeds and communities have integrated the web into processes that now can bridge geographies and department borders. The web and app are holding each other’s’ hands here: the app accelerates and makes the use of these features easier, and enables anywhere access adding its own unique smartness (location awareness and imaging).
In the same way as the web, the app reaches deeper into the company’s business development, and thereby into technical infrastructure. What started as a digital brochure became a sequence of new means of market reach, new sales channels and collaboration opportunities. The app drives both business development and system integration aspects.
So, if you want to know where the app phenomenon is in three years, look around on the web today… and start reap tangible benefits of the insights already today!

Continue Reading · 1 · Categories: iPhone, Mobile, Thought

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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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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iOS4 bugs

The update to iOS4 on my iPhone 3G went well. Quick and flawless… but now I’m running into bugs and issues. I never saw this in any other iPhone update. I’ll keep this post updated with what I find. Also, the forum post iOS 4 Issues and Bugs contains much more. Disappointing, Apple.

My bugs so far:

  • time format for Sweden incorrect (23:59 should be 23.59)
  • the title “All Inboxes” in Mail sometimes reads a 30 character GUID
  • text box input in web pages zooms incorrectly, making it impossible to finish input

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