Tag Archives: Palm

10 Billion App Downloads and You DON’T Need One?

Unless you live under a rock, you’ve probably heard the recent announcement by Apple that they’ve just eclipsed 10 billion app downloads in the Apple App Store.

Starting from the release of the iPhone in 2007, the Apple App Store passed the 1 billion download mark in April of 2009, after opening in July of 2008. That’s a ridiculous pace by any standard.

Tap Tap Revenge is one of the more popular iTunes Apps

Even though much of this traffic was driven by highly popular titles like Tap Tap Revenge and Angry Birds, the reality is that apps have captivated much of the public’s attention, and are as common as the devices upon which they are deployed.

If you’re not an Apple-o-phile, you’ll still be impressed by the estimated 2.8 billion Android apps that have been downloaded to date.

Android is making a strong showing in the app space as well.

What does this all mean?

It means that people find great utility in their mobile devices and much of that utility has been driven by apps.

It also means that apps are a useful tool for brands interested in providing utility to their audiences, in what is becoming an increasingly traditional methodology.

Own a brick-and-mortar establishment? You should have an app that at a minimum, provides turn-by-turn directions to your door. Sure, they can go to GoogleMaps and find you, but why give Google those metrics? Why force your potential customer to take that extra step?

Are you an artist? Your app should stream your music (or at least snippets), provide access to your music video, pictures, show dates and special event, like listening parties or release dates. If you’re interested in making money, your app should direct users to your mobile-based store front allowing purchases downloaded directly to their device.

Maybe you’ve got a service-based business. Your app can simply be an abridged version of your website, providing one-click access to your phone, email or full mobile site. You can also use push notifications to send out blog posts, where you showcase your service-specific knowledge and expertise.

Five years ago, when I was working with The Marksmen and we were introducing DOT.TUNES, the first iPhone app which allowed users to remote access their entire iTunes library from any device capable of an internet connections, we realized that we had an uphill battle, as smart phones (and the concept of ‘apps’) were still very niche.

I acknowledge that we were ahead of our time (DT was released prior to the availability of Apple’s software developer’s kit) and were definitely on the leading edge of the entire app movement, but even then we realized that apps were how mobile users would access and consume content.

Mobile phones, including smart phones, would invariably have memory and processing constraints, and apps offered a simple way of providing one-click access to great utility, without compromising memory or processing speeds.

Fast forward five years, and Google, Nokia, Samsung, Blackberry, Palm, Windows all have their own apps, and are all seeking to replicate Apple’s success.

Big brands like Hyundai, Pepsi, Old Navy, Walmart, all have apps. And smaller brands are starting to embrace apps as well. WeHarlem’s app, provides a social media app developed specifically for Harlemites. There’s even a Dutch municipality which allows users to file complaints via an iPhone app.

IMO, if you’re a brand looking to forge deeper connections with your core audience, penetrate the market, provide greater utility to your current customers, or simply take advantage of the numerous opportunities that mobile applications provide, developing an app for your brand is a wise investment.

If you’re interested in learning more about mobile applications, and how they can help your brand, feel free to shoot me an email or give me a call.

I’d love to hear from you!

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The Principle of Functional Utility

As more businesses and brands move into mobile, they have got to be cognizant of the very different environment mobile represents to the mobile audience, and how critical functional engagement on a mobile device really is.

The Principle of Functional Utility (an expression I’ve coined), dictates that at first blush, it all makes sense. Navigation in any environment, is simple and intuitive. Functional Navigation, in a mobile environment, means that each element of the mobile, whether the device itself, the mobile site, applications, SMS based functions, possess functional utility and aid overall utilization.

Functional utility became important when I realized that I really like gadgets, not for the gadgets themselves, but for the utility they generally added to my life. Walkie talkies, handheld tvs, mp3 players, laptops, cell phones, all held special appeal to me because they offered portable utility. I could take my entertainment and communication on the go.

But what I end up liking most, about the gadgets I liked, was usually how well the device fulfilled it’s promise to make my life easier. This was what I defined as their overall functional utility.

Early on, Handspring/Palm made my favorite device, the Treo. I was attracted to the Treo precisely because it seamlessly combined function and utility. Treos were sleek devices alright. But what they really were, were dynamic little workhorse of functionality in my palm.

Treo 680

With its large and touch responsive screen, you could navigate the web, read and respond to emails, edit documents, listen to mp3s and watch mobile TV. It was the Treo that created my need for truly functional mobile devices.

Notwithstanding Palm’s current issues, when the Treos were originally introduced, they clearly understood what mobile users wanted when they picked up a ‘smart’ phone: utility.

My Treo introduction to smart phones (it really began with my infatuation with the Palm PDAs), really ruined iPhones for me. Not ruined really, but I was not as agog with iPhone love, as I might have been, had I not had Treo devices previously.

When it comes to mobile sites, they need to provide a base level of functionality in order to engage the user. I’ve outlined a few of these basic levels:

1. Browser auto detect (and redirect). Your site should be set up to automatically detect whether the visitor is using a mobile browser.

2. Simple menu. Once a person arrives at your site, there should be a few, easily identifiable tabs and/or options to help you move through the pages of the site. It’s not a website, it’s a mobile site, so no one will begrudge you if all the bells and whistles (of your 2.0 website) are absent from your mobile site.

3. Directional navigation buttons. There is nothing more frustrating that not being able to go back to a previous screen, advance to the next screen or scroll (up or down) without having a PhD in engineering. Mobile sites should be built so simply that a monkey could navigate through the pages with ease.

4. Mobile optimized images. Screens are little picture windows to our digital souls, so don’t crowd that space with large distracting images. Make sure that the artwork, illustration and graphics you use for your mobile site are designed specifically for the small screen.

Without getting to the underlying utility of your mobile site (Can I search your inventory? Compare prices? Place an order?) if you follow these simple points, you’ll score points with the visitors to your site, and will invariably create repeat visitors, because there is nothing more satisfying than navigating on a mobile site designed by someone who understands the space.

Mobile applications need to follow similar principles. Less is more, and everything should work as if it were designed for a small child. When my dauhter picked up my iPhone, slid her little finger along the arrow and unlocked the phone, I realized how simply Apple’s designs were. Now obviously, we can’t have everything be so easily accessible (such that our children destroy our precious toys), but you get the point.

Or do you?


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