It’s a new week so I thought I would do a little catching up in advance of the iPhone5 announcement tomorrow. Last week I attended the GIGA OM Mobilize conference in San Francisco. It was well attended and had some great sessions although no earth shattering news or important product announcements. Here is a quick summary of the things that resonated with me.
Creating Products For People
The conference kicked off with a presentation from Olof Schybergson, CEO of Fjord, on designing fluid and connected experiences. He had four key takeaways, 1) the user is the OS so we need to understand users not just the technology, 2) Privacy is a type of currency, if you expect users to give up some privacy you had better offer them something of value in return, 3) the digital becomes the physical as location and mobile become more pervasive, and 4) this mashup economy will need orchestrators, people and companies that can bring together data, ideas and groups in meaningful ways.
On the High Engagement App panel Neil Young, CEO and Co-Founder of ngmoco had some great comments on a topic that is near and dear to my heart, analytics. He said, “You become what you measure.” And that measuring alone without vision is worthless so make sure that you think about what you want to measure clearly.
By The Numbers
A few of the sessions provided insight on market numbers for mobile. Jonathan Carson of Nielsen Mobile covered how phone users currently divide their time between apps (43% with top 50 apps, 38% with all other apps) and browser (9%). He did point out that there is a lot of turnover in the top 50 apps with 11 swapping out in a single month. Tablets are a different story, reversing the usage pattern of phones to show lots of web usage. He also pointed out that long form content gets the biggest lift from tablet products with the top categories in order of most usage being news, books, download music, TV, movies, magazines, streaming video, and sports. There is apparently a lot of multitasking and simultaneous usage with tablets such as web browsing while watching TV.
The other number that got a lot of play came from a conversation with Erick Tseng, Head of Mobile Products at Facebook on day two. Facebook currently has 800M+ users and 350M mobile users. With their efforts in emerging markets mobile users will out number online users very soon and effectively, Facebook will be a mobile company!
Show Me The Money
There were several panels on money: the digital kind, as in payments, as well as monetizing apps and games. The payment sessions were the most interesting with major payments providers such as PayPal, Visa, Intuit and Verifone admitting that mobile payments will take a while to roll out. They also were frank about the difficulty in substantially improving the experience from the current card swipe status quo that is pretty fast and easy. NFC was put in the proper perspective of merely being a possible technology, not a solution in and of itself. They also pointed out the challenges of getting merchants to adopt any new technologies. That may ultimately be an even bigger issue than consumer adoption.
Keith Rabois, COO of Square also spoke. What they are doing is very compelling because it is potentially opening up entirely new markets of pervasive interchange from person to person. Talk about a big vision: these guys have it.
The Other Platform
Sprinkled throughout several presentations was the notion that the third mobile platform beyond Android and iOS is HTML5. Early in the program Tom Conrad, CTO of Pandora touted the advantages of using HTML5 as a rapid development environment that allows them to build, test and iterate very quickly unlike either of the app platforms which require more testing, approvals and no easy A/B testing. HTML5 came up repeatedly. It was front and center in the Slideshow announcement that they would be using HTML5 now instead of Adobe Flash, and in many of the enterprise tablet panels. Obviously there is much debate about the potential impact of WindowsPhone7, WebOS or RIM but I’d put my money on HTML5.
Tablets In The Enterprise
The second day had many sessions on mobile in the enterprise, or in the current lexicon, “the consumerization of IT.” With smartphones (mostly iPhone and Android) and tablets (iPad) invading enterprises, IT has realized that it has to respond, and not just by saying no. It is clear that tablets have the potential to change the order of things within the enterprise as entire functions like sales adopt them en masse. It looks like HTML5 is likely to be the big winner here as it is more feasible to find these types of resources than app platform developers who are in short supply. Nonetheless there are ample reasons to consider apps as well. This is an important and quickly expanding area for market growth.
All in all it was time well spent. Now on to new phones.