By 2013 mobile devices will overtake PCs as the primary mode of access to the internet. Even if the footnotes to this statement be ignored (like it is about internet enabled devices and not actual access), the truth is quite obvious. Software applications will have to quickly move to the mobile device space to remain relevant in the new world order. This poses both an opportunity and challenge to companies that have built their business propositions around desktop software. Many of these companies are investing in programs – mostly spending their Innovation budgets – to make the transition.
For companies that have had only limited experience in building mobile applications, there a few pitfalls when it comes to thinking about them
- PORT IT: It is never a blank slate. Companies with desktop or web software assets can never start without reverting to those. The product managers and engineers have had their minds wired around those products and they think – erroneously – that they are maximizing ROI by using legacy assets. The propensity quickly becomes to take what is available and create a mobile avatar of it. Mobility and the desktops are two completely different platforms and businesses must think very differently about both
- DEAD END v TOP UP: Most desktop applications are of the top-up varaiety. That is, it is possible that the application gets increased functionality, supports more use cases as later versions are released. Mobile applications can sometimes be dead end apps. They are created to establish presence and kept that way and only fed with new content thereafter. Take the New York Times application for the i-pad for example
- THE “OR” TRAP: Mobile OR Desktop? Wrong question to ask – because users are not going to ditch their desktops (and desktop apps) and substitute them entirely with mobility. The two will co-exist and users will demand experience continuum. This region of intersection is your starting point and if mobile devices do expand presence as predicted, the circle on the left will shrink making your desktop apps more like companions than the mobile apps
I will continue to stay on this theme of Innovation and Mobility for a while so expect some more coming down on this topic.