Another Year In Review — Revisiting 2012 Mobile Trends

Thomas Husson

Every year for the past few years, I've been revisiting our mobile trends predictions. So let’s do it again for the 2012 Mobile Trends post I put together a year ago with my colleague Julie Ask.

So many things happened in 2012 that it's difficult to sum up the year. We’ve passed three key milestones in 2012: more than 1 million apps available, more than 100 million tablets and more than 1 billion smartphones in consumers’ pockets!

Let’s take a look at some of the key trends we highlighted last year. We expected product strategists to work with other roles to:

·         Develop a scalable approach to delivering mobile services. Most advanced organizations took a more strategic approach to building and spreading institutional knowledge as well as governance for the development of mobile services. However, the majority still do not coordinate their approach between marketing, IT, agencies, and vendors.

·         Craft a mobile strategy that expands beyond phones. Only the most advanced players differentiated their tablet strategies. I know of a leading online retailer that is now generating 10% of its overall online sales via tablets because of the launch of an iPad app only eight months ago! However, most players still lump smartphones and tablets into the same “mobile” bucket without understanding the differences in the context of use.

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What You Can Learn From Facebook's Approach And Mistakes In Building Mobile Services

Julie Ask

I listened to the Mark Zuckerberg interview from the  TechCrunch Disrupt event in San Francisco this week. 

There were a few choice quotes (I'll paraphrase them here - these are not literally a transcription. You can find the video/audio on the TechCrunch site):

"The biggest mistake we made (with our mobile services) was relying too much on HTML5 and for too long." 

"We finally realized that a good enough mobile experience would fall short. We needed a great mobile experience. The only path to great is native on iOS and Android." 

"Our mobile users are more engaged and use our services more frequently." 

"All of our code is for mobile."

"We'll build native code for iOS and Android." (And it is building for iOS first)

"Ads can't be standalone on a sidebar in mobile. They need to be integrated into our product." 

"We reorganized. A year ago, 90% of the code check-ins were from the core mobile team. Now 90% comes from other parts of the organization." 

"We reorganized. We were in functional silos. We now have product teams (responsible for delivery)." 

"A Facebook phone doesn't make any sense." 

Some context. Certainly, Facebook is unique with it being a media-centric company and very global. It does need mobile Web to reach much of its audience - now nearing 950M. For many companies, mobile Web will continue to be a relatively low-cost, broad-reach play to get to most of the phones. Mobile Web doesn't go away, but it is not where the differentiation will happen - at least in the near term. 

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HTML5 – Maturing Desktop Browser Support Opens The Door To Enhanced Commerce Experiences

Peter Sheldon

 

eBusiness and channel strategy professionals are no strangers to HTML5. Ubiquitous support for the next generation of open web technologies (HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript) across smartphones and tablets has made it easy for mobile development teams to start leveraging these technologies. However, fragmented browser support for HTML5 and CSS3 features on desktop browsers has thus far dampened the appetite of developers to embed HTML5 into their desktop eCommerce sites.

As we roll towards 2013, the tide is turning; leading online brands, including Apple, Best Buy, Four Seasons Hotels, and Rue La La to name a few, are now putting the features of HTML5 to use on their desktop sites with the goal of enhancing the online experience for customers using modern browsers like Chrome, Firefox, and IE9. We are at an inflection point: With consumer adoption of HTML5-“capable” desktop browsers widespread and web developer understanding of the technology rapidly maturing, HTML5 is no longer an emerging toolset for mobile and tablet development. Instead, it is fast becoming the de facto standard for web experience innovation across touchpoints.

As eBusiness teams evaluate the business case for HTML5 on the desktop, it is important to remember that this not an all-new technology— it is a collection of individual features that extend the existing W3C HTML standards. The decision to start using HTML5 or CSS3 does not require any changes to or throwing away of existing code. Instead, eBusiness teams can simply enhance the user experience of existing sites by incrementally using the new features of HTML5. HTML5 puts more tools in the box, but it doesn’t change the fundamentals of how to build the website.

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2012 Mobile Trends: What’s On Your Strategic Roadmap?

Julie Ask

Let’s take a step back, first. You started as the “mobile person” two to three years ago. You siphoned a hundred thousand dollars or so from the eBusiness team budget and got a mobile optimized web site and maybe an application or two built. You measured your success by engagement – web traffic and application downloads. Maybe you measured direct revenue. Life was easy.

Two to three years later, as eBusiness professionals, you’ve got some experience with building, deploying and maintaining mobile services. You’ve added tablets to your portfolio. Hopefully you’ve convinced your organization that you need at least a 7-figure budget. Most industries have seen clear financial returns on these investments so that hasn’t been too hard. As eBusiness professionals working on mobile, you were feeling a lot of love.

In 2011, you benchmarked yourselves versus your competition. You looked at native applications by platform and key functionality on mobile web and applications. You took a deep breath and said, “ok, we’ve done it. We have mobile services. We’ve checked the box. Mobile web traffic and sales are growing. We’re good.” Perhaps others with fewer services are thinking, “I can see what we need to do. I think we can catch up if I can get some budget.”

The thing you are seeing though is – the finish line is out of sight. Mobile has only gotten more complicated – not less. No one feels comfortable. No one feels they can slow down, stop spending, or rest. Anxiety levels are high.

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2012 Mobile Trends And What They Mean For Product Strategists

Thomas Husson

When revisiting our 2011 mobile trends, Julie Ask and I concluded that many, if not all, of them were still evolving and relevant. We have placed the main new trends for 2012 into four categories: business, ecosystem, consumer expectations, and technology.

Mobile Is A Key Business Strategy Enabler

Product strategists must work with other roles in the organization to:

  • Develop a scalable approach to delivering mobile services. Organizations will need a strategic approach to building and spreading institutional knowledge as well as governance for the development of mobile services.
  • Craft a mobile strategy that extends beyond phones. The emergence of tablets in particular will require a different approach than smartphones.
  • Differentiate on the delivery rather than the content of mobile services. In 2012, “how” mobile services are delivered will differentiate them — not what they offer.
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Embracing The Open Web: The Technologies You Need To Know

John R. Rymer

The open Web is a culture, a community — and a set of preferred technologies for Internet applications. While HTML5 is the best known of these technologies, the open Web also includes JavaScript (client and server), CSS3, Representational State Transfer (REST) application programming interfaces (APIs), and mobile frameworks such as jQuery Mobile. Together, these technologies comprise a new application platform for the Internet that will gradually replace today’s web platforms (HTML4, Adobe Flash, Microsoft Silverlight, Simple Object Access Protocol [SOAP] web services, Java EE, and .NET) for most applications. Forrester recently published research outlining the open Web platform’s key components, their readiness, and how the platform is evolving.

Open Web developers tend to use a variation of the façade pattern for their applications but refine the pattern to focus on standard web formats and protocols and services delivered via the Web — so we refer to it as the open Web façade. Developers draw on three bodies of de jure and de facto standards to implement the open Web façade pattern:

  1. Client standards. Application clients based on a body of emerging standards collectively labeled HTML5.
  2. Service plane standards. A service plane that exposes interfaces using the REST pattern and resource-oriented architecture principles. These services are often called RESTful web services.
  3. Virtual infrastructure standards. A highly virtualized server tier (often a public cloud service) that is easy to deploy initial solutions to but that is also able to scale up or down on demand to meet surges in capacity.
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