Tag Archives: mobile

From Desktop to Pocket: Why Americans Are Making the Switch to Mobile

Reaching a Breaking Point

In the years since Apple released the first iPhone in 2007, we’ve seen a seismic shift in the way that people are accessing the Internet. The landscape has changed so swiftly, in fact, that many have been left in the dust. In 2014, an incredible milestone was reached: for the first time ever, users spent more time accessing the Internet via mobile devices than they did on their PCs. Here are just a few reasons to believe that a movement to mobile is more than just a passing trend.

A Short, Snackable Experience

Since the rise of the smartphone, we’ve seen an influx of content that’s designed for a quick visit and nothing more — what some are referring to as “snackable” content. This could be anything from a short video to an infographic to a concise, easily navigable list.

We already know that peak Internet usage happens during lunch breaks, commutes, and decompressing time at home. But in a U.S. market where more than a whopping 178 million consumers now carry smartphones, content is often consumed in even shorter increments. More and more, users are harnessing just a few seconds to tune into the Internet on their mobile devices — and content generators are taking notice, churning out shorter, more digestible tidbits.

Apps on the Rise

Much of the newest research and data on user behavior suggests that users prefer smartphone apps to traditional browsers, and why not? Apps are elegant, to-the-point, and mobile by definition. The best ones make comparable websites seem bloated or even obsolete. In 2014, mobile app usage grew by 76%, and smartphone owners now download almost 9 apps per month on average.

Mobile Can Do It All

Last but certainly not least, users are ditching their PCs for mobile devices because phones and tablets can, simply put, do everything. Look at the device in your own pocket: chances are it can get you in touch with loved ones, snap a high-quality video, help you make an important purchase, check a flight time — the list goes on and on. Once upon a time, consumers felt a need to balance mobile devices with the desktop experience in order to meet all their computing and Internet needs. But PC sales have been declining as more users find their demands met by a slim, lightweight device that’s always within reach.

Looking Toward a More Mobile Future

Make no mistake — the mobile Internet is here to stay, and its reach and popularity is growing daily. Facebook and Google are still the biggest playmakers, with dominant lineups that include YouTube and Instagram. If you’re looking to build a following online, those remain the best places to start.

But don’t discount emerging mobile platforms, including lifestyle and shopping apps, which grew more in 2014 than any other category. It’ll also be in your best interest to refresh and update your traditional website — users still need to visit them, but they’ll be looking for a streamlined, simplified, and responsive interface that more closely resembles the mobile experience.

Mobile App or Mobile Website?

Mobile devices demand more from developers and designers in terms of presenting content. The days of creating websites that operate solely on a desktop computer are over. Marketers now have to think about how content will look on a variety of devices, screens, and operating systems. As usual, there are multiple ways to accomplish this. Presently, the most popular include developing a mobile app, or a separate mobile website, or creating a responsive design website. Which one is right for you?

Native App

Although many are quick to jump at the idea of a mobile app, the first question should be if you need one at all. Think of any app you’ve downloaded. Most successful apps serve a purpose or solve an immediate need. If your app is to act solely as a replacement for your current website, it most likely will not be widely received.

A good measurement of apps that serve a purpose are those which require the smartphone to perform properly. A mobile app that uses a camera, GPS, scanning capabilities, storage, or user personalization will perform very well. Small purchase and commerce apps have also proved to be successful. On the other hand, native apps allow more customized design than is possible with either mobile apps or responsive websites.

A hefty advantage mobile apps have is that they work without Internet connection. Even those that require Internet for some functions, such as synchronizing to the cloud, are more than capable at operating on a device’s data and run faster than accessing a mobile website. This may explain why people spend more time and consume more information on mobile apps than on websites. Between being instantly available after initial download and much more welcoming to users to play within the mobile space, apps have earned their place in the market.

Mobile Website

A mobile website is a specialized satellite representing your main site. Conventional websites, when viewed on a smart device, are small, cramped, and hard to navigate. A dedicated, mobile website is redesigned for the smaller screen size and the different functions of a smart device. Information differing from that on the main website, and more appropriate for the mobile environment, can be displayed. The common practice of giving users a link to go to the full site allows any missed information to be received as needed.

Mobile websites are also a much more viable option for those with strong SEO strategies. Apps cannot be accessed by search engines and will not affect organic search results, where a mobile website is, at the end of the day, still a website and can be crawled by search engines.

Finally, regular websites are much easier to upload and edit than apps, because they do not have to go through the process of App Store approval. Each update or change must go through the approval process again, causing a cumbersome and lengthy wait for those who may need to update content on a regular basis.

Responsive Design

A responsive website has all of the characteristics of a mobile website, with one difference: your mobile and laptop websites are not separate. Responsive design allows your website to display the same content over any device, restructured to best fit the environment in which it’s displayed.

This often requires a website to be completely redesigned. However, the functions on your website must all translate well to a mobile environment. To fill out a form, it must be readable and editable on all screens, while an online shopping center must be easily navigable on any device. While this often costs more than a normal mobile website, it is still considerably cheaper than developing a complete app and more sustainable for the future.

So, which one?

To make the best decision, make sure you know how your customers are getting your content. Which devices and browsers they’re using, and how high conversions are from these connections are all aspects to be taken into consideration when embarking on this sort of project. After that, you can move on to what type of experience you want, be it an app, mobile website, or responsive website. You may opt for one, a blend of these options, or attempt all three. Ultimately, the choice rests on what makes the most sense for your goals. As with any business decision, be as educated as possible before the final decision. You’ll be grateful in the long run.

Author: Zack Smith

Mozilla Mobile OS

At the Mobile World Congress, Mozilla introduced its new operating system, featured on the ZTW Open phone. Mozilla worked with Telefónica to create a mobile operating system that is low-cost and open-source, and phones with this operating system are geared toward Latin America and developing countries.

Mozilla does not aspire to world domination, but it does want to change how people and developers interact with their mobile operating systems. This new operating system is HTML5-, CSS-, and JavaScript-based and can be changed on the fly. Once an app has been developed for the Mozilla mobile OS, its distribution will not be limited to a closed ecosystem, like the apps of Android and Apple. Apps can be downloaded from the Mozilla Marketplace or from any web-based site, creating what Mozilla believes will become a healthy competition between developers. The new operating system has some big-name partners––Disney, Twitter, and Facebook, to name a few––as well as eighteen mobile network operators and four phone manufacturers backing it. The first phone featuring this new operating system will be released in the second quarter of this year in countries including Brazil, Mexico, and Colombia.

Author: Susan Hallinan

Mobile World Congress 2013

It is that time of the year when all eyes turn to Barcelona for the Mobile World Congress (MWC).

The MWC is where the major mobile devices are revealed.

Some of the companies that will be showing their wares:

Samsung will be launching their latest Galaxy phone after MWC. But they will be introducing two Galaxy tablets: 8- and 10-inch versions. Both will come with Android Jelly Bean.

RIM will be making the best of a badly needed opportunity to show off their latest wares: the Z10 and the BB10 BlackBerry smartphones.

ZTE is the one to watch: this industry outlier is rumored to be introducing a mobile device that runs on the new Mozilla operating system!

Author: Susan Hallinan

Touchscreens and Beyond

Technology is always moving, but one thing that has stayed the same for a while is the touchscreen on your mobile device. Although the touchscreens of today are efficient, they too will evolve. Here are some thoughts on where they may be headed:

3-D Buttons: Tactus Technology has developed a touchscreen that has on-demand raised buttons. Its microfluidic technology changes the user’s experience from that of touching a flat surface to one of a typing on a keyboard.

Gesture: Imagine that turning a page while reading on a tablet was as easy as waving your hand over the device. This technology is being tested and perfected with the Gesture Cube. Apple recently won a patent for something similar to the Gesture Cube. Apple’s patent specifically addresses the “pinch-and-pull gesture,” which allows the user to touch the screen to “pinch” and “pull” away from the screen to register a gesture, as well as 3-D gesturing inputs.

Voice Recognition: Siri was a big step in our introdution to voice or speech interfaces, but if Siri were human, she would be like a two-year-old, not comprehending larger words, requiring us to speak slowly and very clearly, and only only understanding basic commands. This technology will evolve quickly as the big tech companies compete to make devices easier to use.

Thought: IBM predicts that by 2017, most devices will be controlled by brainwaves. Emotive currently has a headset that reads EEGs (electroencephalograms) and facial expressions to control games, but everyday use can’t be too far away.

Author: Susan Hallinan

Apple Lays Framework for GravyPort

Apple’s GravyPort requires a new infrastructure to be laid to accommodate this new data transition medium. Researchers at MIT discovered the incredible data transfer properties of the late Steve Job’s grandmother’s traditional gravy in 2010 and have been diligently working on a new specification to use this new medium to its fullest extent.

OK, so GravyPort doesn’t exist, but during its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) on Monday, Apple basically bet the farm on mobile with some standout points covered by Utterly Orange contributing blogger Susan Hallinan yesterday (check out her post here).

Plus, Siri opened for Tim Cook in true Apple style.

At the core of the WWDC event were glimpses of the future of computing from Apple’s perspective. With killer MacBook Pros, updated MacBook Airs, and iOS6 updates that will push mobile computing forward, Apple clearly still has innovation as its focus, at least for the foreseeable future. Consider the insane 30 billion (that is 30 followed by nine zeros) app downloads––the Apple App Store continues to prove its supremacy in the market. All that being said, WWDC emphasizes the third letter in the acronym, the D for Developers. The event offers insight into the next generation of features that the legions of iOS and Mac OS developers can leverage to prompt new app downloads or improve their market share for a given piece of software. The symbiotic relationship between developers and the hardware/software giant is at the heart of “bet the farm on mobile.”

WWDC didn’t expose anything earth-shattering (big surprise). The event simply reinforced the  Cupertino darling’s trickle-style feature release to keep Apple followers around the planet happy. The fine balance between just enough to keep things fresh and just far enough ahead of the competition to stay on top was ever present. If Apple’s bet on mobile pans out, this blogger/Apple fan/lover of innovation sees a desktop-less world with powerful tablets and stellar smartphones in the five-year outlook.

So, now more than ever before, ask this of yourself, your brand, and your company: Are you ready for mobile to dominate your experience with consumers? Build a strategy where a strong and long-term mobile presence is one of your top three objectives and learn how your consumers/customers/clients are––or are not––interacting with your company (or competitors) in the mobile arena. The BlackBerrys and Treos of the late 1990s and early 2000s were ahead of their time, and Apple came into the market with a new user experience that exploded into the mobile-centric ecosystem that we live in today. One has to trust Apple’s innovation (and luck) and see that mobile (tablets and smartphones) will be a significant part of our future. Are you ready?

Author: John Carew

Do You Ever Find Yourself Asking, “How Can I Stay Ahead in This Fast-Paced, Competitive Marketplace?”

For most people, the answer would be a resounding “Yes.” In this day and age, the key to success is making the most of your time, ALL the time. With so many suppliers optimizing their sites for mobile browsing and creating apps for your smartphones and tablets, you can get pricing, specs, and inventory levels with just a few taps. Instead of spending your commute sitting idly, you can utilize this new technology for your benefit. Now you can actually knock off some of the items on your to-do list before you even arrive at the office and get a jump on your day. Or you can hammer away at that pile of work while you are away on vacation before that dreadful Monday morning hits.

For example, armed with just an iPad and my cell phone, I can fulfill my current role at Vanguard of finding the best suppliers and quoting the best possible pricing for our customers no matter where I am. Mobile sites are popping up all over––just check out a few of the leaders in the promotional items industry.

These apps and mobile websites also allow you to see orders in the proofing and production stages, as well as their shipping status, so you can have answers for your clients before you even fire up your desktop at the office. Additionally, you can now check pricing, inventory, and turnaround time remotely, allowing you to easily type up a quote while on the go. Gone are the days of train or flight delays slowing down our productivity when these little challenges come our way. With more and more companies developing these types of user-friendly options for our mobile devices, we can not only improve our time management skills, but deliver superior customer service as well. Soon, we just may be able to steal that famous Army quote: “We do more before 9 a.m. than most people do all day.”

Author: Amy Carroll