Tag Archives: smartphone

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.

Tablets, E-Readers, and iPhones Take Over the World!

Your content MUST be mobile-optimized or appified. A Pew Internet Research survey and Apple Q1 sales announcement paint a picture of a tablet, e-reader, and iPhone future filled with innovation, pain, or frustration––depending on how you proceed TODAY.

The numbers don’t lie––they suggest a trend and market preference for consumption. The tech world did not see the same game-changing flock of users adopt netbooks, and now this subcategory of laptop computers is essentially dead. The Kindles and iPads of the world have carved out a tablet niche for themselves because their form factor and technology allow for ideal consumption of much of the content available on the Internet. Get on board! Let’s clear up one small point––sorry to be a little nitpicky here, but the difference between an e-reader and a tablet is important. The title of the latest Pew report, “Tablet and E-book reader Ownership Nearly Double Over the Holiday Gift-Giving Period,” makes clear that there is a difference. “Tablet” and “E-book reader” are two distinct devices: a tablet is an e-reader with additional features, whereas an e-reader is primarily for reading content only, with fewer of the app- and Internet access-driven functions found on tablets.

By the way, in case you missed the news, Apple sold 37,000,000 iPhones in the first quarter of fiscal 2012. That is thirty-seven with six zeros. That is approximately 4.6 iPhones per New Yorker, but the thought of that many devices on the network in NYC is terrifying. One more time, iPhone sales accounted for 53% of Apple’s revenue for that quarter. Hello, iPhone––welcome to control of Apple sales and eventually everything. Fine, a little hyperbolic, but realize this: sales of iPhones mean users experiencing iOS. That experience will drive device use and preference in the future.

If your company’s primary offering can be consumed, purchased, or used online, make sure it is consumable via mobile device (tablet and smartphone) and offers an amazing user experience. Adequate, everyday, functional use of content on a mobile device will not differentiate your product in the marketplace.

If your company’s primary offering can be consumed via an app on iOS, for example, make it happen and spread the news as much as possible. Face it, the users who are buying iPhones, tablets, and e-readers now are not the early adopters––they are closer to the end of the early majority at this point. These are the users who can swing the adoption of the technology and push innovation in all aspects of the field further than we can even imagine at this point.

Courtesy of Wikipedia.

So are you ready for a mobile, smartphone/tablet-driven world? Is your content ready?

Author: John Carew

Holiday Techno Decisions

In the world of choices to be made by less-experienced members of geekdom, deciding where to buy the stuff we consume on our shiny, new tech devices is overwhelming. Some things play nicely with others—music purchased from virtually anywhere can (usually) be plugged into another player or storage device. Video, subscription services, and e-books, however, are loners in the digital-asset playground and only like to play on their own turf and on their own terms. To the veteran mobile-content consumer, these content and consumption barriers are initially a pain, but work-arounds and the partitioning of certain content types to certain providers and apps become part of the everyday use of the technology. To the newbie—you, yes, you—sitting there with your new device, hesitant to remove the screen protector since the case you got doesn’t fit your device and/or is the wrong color, the glow and allure of the sexy, new techno gadget in front of you is enticing. But after you charge the battery and finish the configuration and get to the meat and potatoes of the device, my guess is the app store is your next stop. Hopefully, the gift giver gave you a gift card to the app store of your choice so you can dive in head first.

A few things to remember for both publishers and consumers:

 1. Solo OS Stinks
Apps that play well on one and only one operating system are poor sports on the playground of techno content consumption. You will want to gobble up all the bits you can across multiple devices, whether right now or at some point in the future. Manufacturers that provide multiple devices across different areas of the spectrum and provide the same experience using similar operating systems hedge the bet for app developers who focus on one and only one operating system to support. The downside is that as many more people adopt single-use devices, like the Nooks and Kindles of the world, these devices currently cannot complete other core functions (easily and cost effectively), like email or phone calls. The user is then left with different operating systems on different devices:  smartphones, tablets, notebooks, desktops, and/or smart TVs. You will consume content on multiple devices in the future, and being tied to only one operating system for the apps you love will hurt when you change. Be prepared.

2.   Device-Specific Experience Is a Gamble
Think about this: Before we wanted to consume traditional print publications on our tablets and smartphones, publishers produced titles with region-specific variations for both newsstand and subscription delivery. The traditional printing process changed for the most part at the end, with different variations of a specific set of forms printed within the larger print run. The process was heavily automated, and the variables, while seemingly significant, were relatively controllable since the press, roll width, and bindery restrictions were fixed. Once online distribution and multiple electronic variations were dumped into the mix, the traditional publishing model went awry. If we can assume that the vast majority of advertising and editorial content in today’s modern publications are actually worthy of multimedia additions, then the burden to produce a consistent experience across multiple devices over multiple operating systems—given very different hardware functionality—is a tall order. That said, device-specific subscribers to e-versions of traditional print titles may or may not have the same experience on another device mostly because of the hardware and software limitations of any specific device. Ultimately, this complicates the field of content to be consumed on your spanking-new techno device. While it may not matter right now in 2011, it may be a different story as  displays and the user experience continue to evolve while the hardware that we use to consume content continues to grow.

At some point you will muster up enough courage to pull off the screen protector and dive into the techno goodness that is behind the new device in your hand or lap. Just remember, consume wisely, not only for your wallet, but because someday in the not-so-distant future, the single-function device will be replaced and the electronic library that you have created may not play well with the devices and operating systems of the future.

Author: John Carew

Top 5 Technology

These are the 5 need-to-know things in technology for 2011:

1. iPad domination: The late Steve Jobs said that 2011 would be the year of the iPad. The numbers confirm this: iPads are outselling Andriod tablets 24 to 1, and Condé Nast says its Newsstand subscriptions have increased by 268%.

2. Social media continues to grow: It is predicted that by 2012 Facebook will reach 1 billion users, and with that the demand for privacy will also increase. Social media by nature will become more mobile.

3. Smartphones have outsold PCs worldwide: Over 100 million smartphones were shipped in 2011, while only 92 million PCs were sold. The processing power of mobile phones now rivals PCs, with most phones coming with a standard 1GHz processor.

4. Supercomputer: Earlier this year, a supercomputer named “Kei,” or K, was introduced in Japan. K is capable of making a quadrillion calculations per second and is equivalent to one million computers. Supercomputers will not be showing up on your desks in the near future; they are used for climate modeling, rapid stock trading, and earthquake simulations, as well as for other large calculations.

5. HTML5, CSS3, JQuery and JSON: All these developer tools help a developer to make a fluid site without relying on Flash and other animation tools. They open the cyberworld not only to developers, but to designers; fonts are not limited to the web-friendly few, and these items can be viewed on all devices.

Click here for an example of  HTML5 and JQuery.

Author: Susan Hallinan

Flexible Phones in Our Near Future

The mobile-device war is about to get interesting. At Nokia World 2011, held in London last week, the company introduced the Kinetic, a phone that is controlled by bending it. Folding the top of the screen makes the device scroll upwards, and folding the bottom makes it scroll down; bending the phone inward and outward will zoom in and out of photos, or play or pause music. Trying to steal some of Nokia’s thunder, Samsung has announced it will be selling its own flex-phone in early 2012 and will be rolling bendy technology to its tablets soon afterwards.

Both companies are using a version of organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) in this technology. OLEDs are carbon-based and emit light when a small amount of electricity is applied. Samsung’s version, named AMOLED (Active-Matrix OLED) is slimmer, faster, and––according to Samsung––virtually indestructible, having been folded over 100,000 times and hit by a hammer and losing only a tiny percentage of pixels.

I have to tell you, seeing the pictures and watching the video of people bending and twisting the phone had me very excited. With a less rigid phone, there is likely less damage when it hits the ground (and the screen won’t shatter when stuffed in a back pocket), but the drawback is that the phone may not be operated with one hand.

What say you? Would you like a flexible phone that could be twisted and bent to your heart’s desire?

Author: Susan Hallinan

It Wasn’t an iPhone 5 (Whatever You Wanted That to Be)––Get Over It!

On Thursday, the world learned of the passing of Steve Jobs. Jobs will be remembered as “among the greatest of American innovators” stated President Obama Thursday. “The Edison” of our modern age, a man who pushed the envelope on the very means which we communicate and consume information, he will be remembered as a rebel and an entrepreneur who never settled for “OK” always pushing for perfection. “Here’s to the Crazy Ones” commercial from 1997 narrated by Steve Jobs speaks to the impact of his career and insight into our technological future.

Apple just introduced the iPhone 4S, not the 5 or 4GS as speculated. Packed in an iPhone body but with some adjustments, the new device was so underwhelming that it temporarily brought down the value of Apple’s stock. It packs a faster A5 processor (same as the iPad2), an 8-megapixel camera with HDR support and full 1080p HD video capture. The device will be a world phone, supporting CDMA and GSM protocols with two radios, which Apple claims will increase download speeds to 14.4 megabytes per second via HSPA+. The 4S will launch iOS 5 with such golden nuggets as Siri, Apple’s much-coveted voice-recognition software (and DARPA military veteran), which will power what appear to be many of the features of the OS. The other software change comes in the form of notifications matching what has been present on Android for some time now. For more coverage of iOS features, check out our coverage of the Apple WWDC Recap. But if you didn’t believe us before, Twitter is now fully backed into the iOS goodness and will let the Apple biters out there share content via Twitter with even less effort.

As the New York Times’s Bits blog points out, Apple has to compete with Google and its wide array of phone offerings, ranging from free to $400. The question must be asked, though: Which came first, the strategy or the surplus? Verizon didn’t move as many of the iPhone 4 as expected, and neither did AT&T when it came to moving the 3GS (as judged by the $0 cost for the 3GS with a new contract). All three big boys are in the game now. AT&T started strong but lost its edge after partying too hard with its stockpiles of Jacksons, Grants, and Franklins. Verizon came as the second string to push the opposition to the boards and burn down more of the clock, but––wait––third-string Sprint rushed the floor? Coach Apple, what is going on? Sprint is hedging an awful lot on its moving 30 million handsets.

We learned from the laptop and desktop PC model wars that speed is not everything. Users want function and compare relatively similar devices by what bells and whistles they offer. Analysts have slammed Apple for not releasing a device that can compete with Samsung and HTC models, but why would Apple want to compete spec for spec with those devices? The reality is that the pipes can’t support “4G” speeds (whatever the actual speeds may be). Instead Apple has released a phone that competes in some areas, like camera and video capture, and excels in others, like the software with Siri and the 500,000 apps for iOS devices. Let’s remember that voice recognition hasn’t been easy or successful in the history of computing, but as ThisIsMyNext points out, Apple and Siri have a few things going for them, including context, logic, and clarification.

The future will include mobile technology, mobile technology that will be smart and help us accomplish daily tasks. The technology that will succeed will be designed first and foremost with user experience as the main objective. Apple’s success in the marketplace cannot be overlooked, as it consistently introduces devices with design first. It just so happens that its designs are bigger than the boxes that house the devices, and the company sometimes has to wait for the world to catch up to its concepts.

Last thought: Early fans of Apple may remember back to 1987 (others may still have been teething) and the Knowledge Navigator. Check out the video below to see how it stacks up––pretty cool all these years later.

Author: John Carew

Hurricane Googorola

Breakwater Light
Just like high school jock envy, those who fall short of Apple’s greatness want a piece of the pie. On Monday, Google announced its bid to purchase Motorola Mobility for a mere $12.5 billion, merging the search-engine giant with a leading handset manufacturer. Apple’s exclusivity with AT&T for the first few iPhone generations created a unique relationship between “distributor” and manufacturer. As the legend goes, AT&T and Apple negotiated to create a unit that would function on the existing network, but the exclusivity made a boatload of cash for both parties and propelled the iPhone into the market. Others were left building competitive devices that would be measured against the functionality of the iPhone. The current leader over the past 12 months has been Android, trailed by some other strong contenders that have entered the market. The common factor for all is that a software developer––be it Apple, Google, or Microsoft––is handcuffed by the negotiations with both handset manufacturers and the carriers who will distribute the millions of phones.

Let’s cut to the chase––Google wants patents. The hurricane of patent lawsuits over the last few months points directly at the problem. Google’s potential purchase of Motorola Mobility has created excitement since it already manufactures smartphones and has been doing so for some time with debatable success (depending on what measure one uses). The proverbial R&D and patent drag race has bumped the ante up considerably. As Gizmodo pointed out on Tuesday, there are losers everywhere. Innovation is what drove us to where we are, and these patent wars combined with the dismal economy worldwide and bleak future predications could stymie the very momentum that got us to this mobile-enabled, always-connected place, for better or for worse.

If the techie masses rose up in revolt, forming a Wi-Fi-enabled, smartphone-wielding protesting mob, lighting their way by the glow of the Zippo lighter app, there would be little media coverage. Chants of “free our patents, free innovation” would not ring throughout the nation. Protest signs adorned with words written in courier and those archaic, round shiny disks our parents call CDs would not attract TV cameras in droves. Would Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert side with the byte-obsessed nerds and join their ranks on the National Mall or dispatch a senior correspondent to compile a sequence of geek- and social ineptitude–based jokes? Let’s go with, umm, doubtful.

With the market left to its own devices, what may happen? If Google sinks its teeth into Motorola Mobility, maybe we will see the tide turn in the smartphone sea. The good news is that Apple gave the market a huge, delicious taste of an intuitive user interface and higher-quality handsets, and since we like the taste, the competitors are fighting tooth and nail over the tech/patents that will help them stir up some new waves. Those same waves that foster innovation are destroyed as they smash into the breakwater that is the patent lawsuit disaster. At least the Verizon, HTC, and Samsung ships have all given safe passage to the deal since it may reduce the choppy waters caused by the incoming patent hurricane.

Future predictions on the horizon…
Apple buys RIM. Yes, we feel faint as well, but would the scent of BlackBerry destroy the feng shui of Apple’s proposed new Cupertino digs? The keyboard clicking would be a disturbance, at any rate. Microsoft buys Nokia. We agree––it’s like your friends who shared an apartment for 10 years finally getting married. HP splinters webOS to accelerate Palm OS–like separation. RIM refused to get off the recliner and answer the doorbell as the chimes incessantly rang with innovation calling again and again. Now it is faced with a declining market share and what some consider grim expectations of acquisition.)

Author: John Carew
Photo credit: Diver227