Opinion: Mobility Is Dead.

Brad Shafton

This may sound cliché, but it’s true. Mobility is dead not because it is no longer important, but because experience overrules devices. Think of it this way, is a tablet a mobile device? Of course it is. For your average user though, what’s the difference between a tablet and a laptop. We can argue intricacies, but generally speaking, the difference is the application ecosystem and the user experience. I can name half a dozen things I could do in BES 10 years ago that I cannot do today to a corporately managed iPhone, but as of Q4FY16, Blackberry officially hit 0% market share.

Now those six features aside, we can name plenty of reasons why iPhone and Android left Blackberry in their e-dust (or iDust?). But give me one reason that does not tie back to user experience. Performance, apps, and flexibility are just factors of user experience.

So what does this mean? I'm not going to tell you anything new here, however, you should keep these three things in mind when designing your mobile experiences:

1) Do one thing very well – How many photo editing apps do you have on your phone? I have 5, not including all the apps (Facebook, Instagram) that do photo editing within a set of other features. I’m sure there is overlap between them, but each one does one thing very well. Your apps must do one thing very well. Do not try to solve every last problem, because you won’t. Start with one problem, and address that as best you can, then build from there. 

2) Update, then update again – The best way to see a sudden drop in your utilization? Get outpaced by alternatives. Do you have a login prompt? Adopt Touch ID or facial recognition. Want people to take quick actions? Build a widget. If you wait too long, users will migrate towards something else, and good luck getting them back. Even for enterprise applications, we know that people will pursue consumer class applications if our applications do not meet their needs. Stay on top of new features and continually build them into your experiences. 

3) Be seamless – The idea that mobility is dead really just means that mobility is omnipresent, but the devices we use vary as much as our users. Even with the proliferation of mobile devices, it was not until very recently that mobile web browsing surpassed desktop. We’re beyond the stage of pointing out the necessity for reflexive design, users need fundamentally seamless design. Actions and buttons should do the same thing, regardless of the platform I use to access your page.

So is mobility really dead? Of course not. Mobility continues to evolve into a new beast, unrecognizable to use currently, morphing around new experiences for the ever-evolving customer. But seriously, can we do something about battery life?