The Rise of the Mobile-Only User


harvard business review

The Harvard Business Review blog summarizes the rise of mobile versus desktop in the article, The Rise of the Mobile-Only User.

Their conclusions and stats are no great surprise. I think we have all seen our own personal usage of mobile become more and more important in the last few years.

One of the most persistent misconceptions about mobile devices is that it’s okay if they offer only a paltry subset of the content available on the desktop. Decision-makers argue that users only need quick, task-focused tools on their mobile devices, because the desktop will always be the preferred choice for more in-depth, information-seeking research.

This was the consensus in the early days, perhaps, but now the importance of mobile is no longer overlooked. Any Website that wants to remain accessible is ‘responsive’. People are becoming more and more dependent on mobile devices.

I would guess that, for most, there is now a clear division of tasks between the mobile devices and the desktop. Social media interaction is very, very easily managed on mobile, as is email, and organization and planning. Information gathering is also quickly accomplished on a smartphone or tablet.

I think we’ll see a rise in online shopping, reservations, banking, etc via mobile as well. Amazon and a number of large chains have made this really easy. The smaller retailers are bound to follow.

The rise of smartphones means that more and more people are going online from a mobile device.According to Pew Internet, 55 percent of Americans said they’d used a mobile device to access the internet in 2012. A surprisingly large number — 31 percent — of these mobile internet users say that’s the primary way they access the web. This is a large and growing audience whose needs aren’t being met by traditional desktop experiences.

I would have guessed that more than 31% use mobile as their primary access to the web. The primary users are definitely younger, while older people may still favor desktop.

The big tasks will likely remain desktop driven. And those whose work relies on desktop will never abandon it. Writing long documents is just not possible or comfortable on mobile. But, I would not be surprised to see a marked decrease in desktop sales to parallel the rise in mobile sales in the coming years.

I Love Clever Software

This is icon for social networking website. Th...

This is icon for social networking website. This is part of Open Icon Library’s webpage icon package. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You start using it and think, wow, that was a great idea! Evernote, Dropbox, scores of other fantastic ideas. Then there is that class of applications that start out as great ideas but never really reach their full potential. They leave you wondering what’s coming – then wondering if anything is coming at all.

Getsocialize is a great idea. An out of the box social plugin that is super well-documented and pretty obviously necessary. Why didn’t everyone think of this? Why should every mobile or web designer have to reinvent the wheel? Social sharing is now an essential part of mobile and web development.  ShareThis is a great software that truly covers web-designer’s needs for social sharing. Getsocialize has not quite reached it’s full potential.

I think part of the problem is that now that they are one company, one might expect for Getsocialize to do the same for mobile as ShareThis does for websites – but they are not the same beast.

My first impression is that GetSocialize is a great software for app publishers, not for end users. Thumbs up for the metrics. If it manages to measure what you really want to measure, then this tool is worth it just for that alone.

However, incorporating Getsocialize into my app leaves me scratching my head and wondering if the designers understand the basics of social sharing.

Or, is it just that Getsocialize is appropriate only for certain types of apps and useless for others? Word in the forums suggest that it is really for gaming and maybe not much else. This might be true because there is a fundamental conceptual difference between ShareThis and Getsocialize.

If an app user wants to share content with a friend via Twitter, Facebook, email or whatever else they’ve got going. Do they want to share the information directly? Of course. Do they want an interesting piece of software in the middle that let’s them see how many other people have shared the same bit of information? Hmmm . . . not so much. Emphatically not!

Sharing with friends is direct, and Getsocialize seems to be more about community building. We can all gather around and see if others experience the app as we do. This may be a great thing if community building will enhance the user experience. If it get in the way, it can set your teeth on edge.

My main beef is that everything centers around the Socialize landing page, which makes me wonder how widely this software is used. Who really wants all roads to lead to Getsocialize? If you want to share the content, whoever you’re sharing with will be forced to take a look at the Getsocialize landing page, see what other people think and then, maybe if they are still interested, move onto the content you wanted to share. You have the potential to lose people at the middle man.

That’s a showstopper for me.

Thumbs down: Things that should be totally customized by the app publisher seem to be hard-coded – like the text that appears in email, believe it or not. I posted something to Twitter with my own comment and my comment was not seen because all the Getsocialize hard-coded text got in the way – Geez . All formatting of the sharing should be in our hands. All of it!

While I’m hot into this little rant, I’ll say that I question the company’s commitment also. Looking at questions in the forums, (the same questions I have) it seems that they could do a lot better to close open issues. Same questions open for over a year? Important ones at that. Hmmm. I can see by their replies that they are understaffed (“gee, I’ll ask our iOS guy”). Take a deep breath and wait a year.

Nuff said. I’m finding a way around the shortcomings, but it is not really easy to customize locally, and it should be.

If I manage to iron out the kinks, I’ll stick with this. Otherwise, back to reinventing the wheel.