What I know about mobile so far

Yesterday’s AVC post sparked a mini-conversation about mobile and just what ‘working’ means on mobile. In that conversation, I left the following comment:

Here’s what I know about mobile so far:

1. It’s rapidly reaching *everyone* around the world.

2. You have seriously limited 'in-app’ attention from most people. They may go back to the app many many times throughout the day, but they aren’t spending a large amount of time 'hanging out’ once they are there.

**This might simply be a side effect of not having solved enough *serious* problems with mobile yet…

3. Partially because of #2 People currently prefer *very* specific and focused experiences (the OS is the portal).

4. Combine #2 and #3 and you realize that the only models that can possibly work have to be in-line with the intent/use of the app (hence the 'native’ mantra).

5. Distractions to the core intent/use of the app (advertising being a big example) will not generate serious revenue *and* will seriously hinder engagement and growth.

I’ve had this thought on my mind since posting it yesterday, and after thinking about it some more, I would add a few more things:

6. The app stores are designed around the idea of apps being a 'hit driven’ business. If you can crack into a top ten list somewhere in the app store then you’ve got a chance at making some serious cash.

7. The ideal still seems to build a *brand* that you can take out of the 'app’ and into the real world for insane success/profits. Take Angry Birds or Minecraft as examples here.

8. A large part of the cost and work behind mobile is front-loaded (ie. risky). Because of this, you are almost forced to do this with small teams, and small budgets, right now. Even the teams that have had huge wins, tend to remain small and lean as they attempt to repeat with another 'hit’.

9. Network effect driven services, with the exception of search, have translated well to mobile engagement. Their common advertising model has not (yet).

10. Search on mobile has yet to be really defined in the mobile user’s mind.  Does it mean search the internet (only for mobile friendly stuff)? Does it mean search around me in the real world? Does it mean search my mobile device?  The answer is 'yes’…it’s the 'context’ part that is expected with mobile but not quite there yet in any of the solutions I’ve seen…

11. The mobile experience is still fairly complex and messy for users. No clean way to go from app-to-app or email-to-app or web-to-app yet. This makes it difficult to market in many traditional/proven 'online’ ways.

I can and probably will come up with more as this continues to sit on my brain…but I’m interested to know, what would you add? What do you *know* about mobile so far?

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This is the personal blog of Kevin Marshall (a.k.a Falicon) where he often digs into side projects he's working on for digdownlabs.com and other random thoughts he's got on his mind.

Kevin has a day job as CTO of Veritonic and is spending nights & weekends hacking on Share Game Tape. You can also check out some of his open source code on GitHub or connect with him on Twitter @falicon or via email at kevin at falicon.com.

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