If there’s one thing that is absolutely impossible to ignore it’s this: The rapid growth of mobile technology. It’s not just technology either – our entire way that we interact with it, the rest of the world, and especially with each other (e.g. relationships, communities). More people are experiencing the internet via mobile devices primarily than desktop. Full stop.
What’s probably most scary is that most of us have experienced this fundamental shift in our own adult lifetimes – we know what it’s like to spend 100% of our internet time on a desktop computer, and now, we’re spending much, much less.
This isn’t scientific, but, I did a quick personal survey of my own use over the last week and I spent more than half of my time on my mobile device doing anything from work to entertainment.
I also calculated this for my spouse and she’s way above 90% usage on mobile vs desktop and the only reason she engaged with our iMac or notebook computer is because she needed to do some “larger content writing” for an event she’s planning.
The mobile device is our favorite screen, all the time, not just on-the-go but at home as well and this fact has profound implications for us as product designers and product developers as we need to start rethinking almost everything when it comes to successful customer engagement.
And, if we’re going to make successful businesses out of these products that we must start thinking differently, not just “mobile first” but perhaps “mobile native“:
Now, though, I think we can see an evolution beyond ‘mobile first’. What happens if you just forget about the PC altogether? But also, what happens if you forget about feature phones?
What happens if you presume all of the sophistication that a modern smartphone has and a PC does not, and if you also presume that, with 650m iPhones in use and 2.5bn smartphones in total, you can build a big company without thinking about the low end anymore?
It’s a powerful and important mental exercise and one that every company should be engaging with regularly. I don’t have any specific advice for any existing company or any newly formed one for that matter but I am capturing this thought here publicly because it’s something that does matter for our own product development, customer engagement and business building strategies.
So, I share this question with your publicly:
What does a mobile native experience look like for software developers and engineers? What would it look like to build a tool with “mobile native” in mind?
I don’t think that this means that we’ll find ourselves writing and building software on our mobile devices any time in the near future but I can’t entirely throw that out for the not-so-distant future either.
And I’ll admit: I could be entirely wrong about it and so biased in my own experience and perspective that understanding and appreciating a true “mobile native” UI/UX is just outside of my brainpan (and I feel comfortable admitting that)!
But I’m willing to give it more than a few cycles and I’m willing to engage with what I feel is inevitable – the future generations are here and they are growing up in a post-Facebook and post-GitHub world and their experiences and expectations on how software is being built is grossly different than mine.
Bottom line? If we are to build a business that is lasting and sustainable and exceedingly profitable then it is in our best interest to encounter and engage with this demographic with open arms and an even more open mind. It doesn’t mean we need to start building for them today but it behooves us to put it on the roadmap.