Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Why we don't use mobile apps or web more?

There are many reasons given for this disappointing statistics but most of these can be narrowed down to three words - BAD USER EXPERIENCE. Let us give some examples from the app (application) and (web) browser world:

The iPhone has a beautiful user interface and each application can utilize the full graphics that the iPhone can deliver. No doubt, each of the 250,000 advertised iPhone apps used these capabilities to the fullest. But if you think about how each user gets their favorite apps to their phone and how they find them among the pages and pages of icons (16 icons/page) it is easy to understand that the average user continues to use their 4 or 5 favorite apps over and over again. Apple just introduced the old folder concept to make it somewhat easier to organize the apps, but for a user to find which one of the 250,000 apps they would like to add and then find it on their phone is not easy. And you are still restricted to iPhone apps, or Android apps, or Blackberry apps or Symbian apps or Java apps – never the five shall meet! Overall, not a great user experience across phones in the app world.

The mobile web browser has a different problem. There are millions of web sites out there in addition to mobile web sites and RSS feeds. Most of these sites do not show well on ordinary phones. This is something the ongoing phone browser wars intend to address although from the press it seams to be more about flash support! Organizing web sites on your phone falls back on old concepts like bookmarks and tabs. Discovery of new web content uses search engines that give their results in long lists of web page addresses. For the thumb-proficient there is always the good old entering of a full web address. In some cases, results are mobile friendly based on auto-detection of browser type, but in other cases you get what you get! But at least web sites work on most phones but you are limited to the 4 to 5 you have bookmarked. Overall, not a great user experience across phones in the browser world.

This brings us to the old term usability! It seems like neither apps or browsers are solving the usability problem in a satisfactory way! More about this in future blogs after discussing some definitional issues and also the ugly duckling of the web that is really usable on the mobile!