There is a substantial interest today in the development of the tech scene with hundreds of news sites and thousands of blogs dedicated to covering even the smallest movements of the big players in the market. Enthusiasts are obsessed with the rumours around the latest gadgets and apps and are always on the lookout for the next big thing.
But when it all boils down to it, the hardware and software is just a means to an end. A way of enabling the user to complete an action, to facilitate a service that makes their life a bit easier. Mobile advocate Scott Bales suggests that a platform’s success is much more to do with user behaviour than the specifics of the technology itself.
One of the biggest misconceptions when it comes to exploring the mobile landscape as a means to engage modern mobile consumers is that the device or technology is king.
As an app developer or a product manager, your first step is to accept that the technology device does not matter, your first priority is creating a unique and compelling mobile experience for the consumer.
Bales highlights the importance of understanding how any technology fits into the users’ lives and behaviours and mentions three key aspects to consider;
Context – when and where does the consumer use your service?
Behaviour – how and why do they use it?
Utility – what does it do and how does it do it?
Only by understanding in detail how the end user is to interact with your service can you possibly hope to produce something that will stand the test of time. But we see this over and over again, web or mobile products ‘designed’ by engineers without an in-depth consideration for user behaviour. With a focus on function over form. But if a user can’t figure out how to use an application, or it doesn’t fit easily into their lives, than your product could be dead in the water.
With the competition never as fierce for users’ attention as it is at the moment, the smallest details could be the difference between your product’s success or failure. For this reason, it is more important than ever to strip away the technology itself, and focus on creating something that can be easily and intuitively used and that fits seamlessly into the user’s lives and behaviours.
The below graph might be shocking to some but it’s not a trick of the eye, Android have an almost 80% share of the world’s smartphone unit sales, and this is expected to grow for the next couple of years at least. It may come as a surprise considering Apple’s success in the market and the idea of the smartphone war as a close two horse race between Apple and Google, but the facts don’t lie, when it comes to operating system user share, Google’s Android is the clear winner. Apple’s iOS only accounts for roughly 15% of all global smartphone sales.
Android’s rise has been staggering over the last four years, with their share of the user base almost doubling each year, the result of smartphones becoming more readily available in emerging markets which are targeted by producers of devices on the cheaper end of the scale that run Android.
But while stats like this might suggest that Apple could face serious trouble maintaining their position in the market over the coming years, the graph doesn’t necessarily paint a complete picture of the state of play. Android may have over 1bn monthly active users (not including those in China or on Kindle devices) compared to Apple’s 470m, but figures from Google’s IO event last month seem to confirm that Android users spend a significant amount less on apps for their device than their Apple counterparts.
This puts an entirely different spin on the shape of the smartphone industry. When you take into account the massive profits that Apple makes from the sales of it’s hardware this becomes even more stark. Android might be eating the market, but Apple have got the customers that matters, at least when it comes to cold hard cash.
Android is getting a new lick of paint this Autumn with an update known as Android L. The design changes centre around a new ‘material design’ style which Google says is based on basic shapes and sheets of paper. This version features some slick new animations and what Google likes to call meaningful transitions. It seems that, in terms of design and intuitiveness at least, Android is starting to catch up with iOS.
I’m a Digital Strategist passionate about the intersection between technology and creative marketing. I recently moved to London after 11 years living in Dubai.