What makes a great mobile experience

Discussing with some Content Service Providers, some told me that the traffic coming from their apps was now at roughly the same level as their website. And these CSP were just in the biggest in France. So the Internet market in transforming itself into an Internet App market. I don’t think HTML5 will change much the trend. It will help developers in app portability.

I’ve found this interesting chart on visual.ly on how to make a great mobile experience. Nothing rocket science, but a good to-do list for beginners.

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An Android phone or a Samsung ?

Samsung has a problem : it depends too much on Android

Google has a problem : it depends too much on Samsung

Android accounts now 70% of smartphone sales and Samsung devices accounts 70% of Android. Google is trying to push other manufacturers not to say it is pushing hard its device device arm Motorola.  On the other side, Samsung is not betting on Windows Phone and has dropped its proprietary Bada platform. So what’s cooking? Samsung will apparently launch a few Tizen phones on the marke thi year.

And what is Tizen? Don”t be mistaken, Tizen is not a Samsung proprietary OS like Bada. Tizen is the merge of Intel efforts (previoulsy Meego) and Operators works (LiMo) in a fully open source initiative. Unlike Android, there won’t be one company in the driving seat but Operators (Vodafone, NTT, Orange,…) and Manufacturers (Intel, Samsung, ZTE, …).

> Tizen association website

We can imagine Samsung will customize its Tizen devices with the same Touchwiz UI it is using on Android. Hence consumers will hardly notice the difference.

Tizen screenshots

Tizen screenshots

Samsung with operator backing sounds very promising. Google seems to have now a bigger problem. Now the question will be on the application side. Will Tizen have enough applications to compete with the other platforms?

Microsoft pampering its developers

Microsoft is in the final rush to launch the awaited Windows 8 and Windows RT this fall. Developers have submitted their applications and compiled and re compiled (and re re compiled and re re re …) their code from the Consumer Release, the General Preview, the Release to Manufacturer.

Now Microsoft is hesitating between two stances:

  • Being very strict on the UX guidelines by rejecting all applications that are off the target then offering a compelling windows UX
  • Being easy-going and certifying nearly all applications to have at launch a market place with a huge number of available apps

This is certainly a thin line to follow. But if Microsoft does it wisely it will surely lead to both a good app portfolio and a great user experience.

So little space to differentiate

HTC has announced that it is shutting down HTCSense.com, the device firm’s portal that enables users to sync their contacts, messages, footprints and call history.

HTC has been caught between Microsoft and Google. There is no room for customized UI with Windows Phone and it is the same with Android and its non-fragmentation agreement. Furthermore, the services provided by HTCSense have been commoditized by the OS vendors: Microsoft Live and Google Mail are backing up all the device data in the background so you can access these data from your PC, tablet or a new device.

HTC Sense UI

The real question for device makers is ‘beyond hardware how can they differentiate from one another?’. Except for the ones with a fully integrated approach like Apple, the solution is to come from the outside.

Customers are lost in the zillions of applications available from the Application markets. I think they would appreciate some help from their preferred device manufacturer to pick up the best ones.

Which games? Which weather application? etc.

Device makers need to do something quite unusual for them: open to third parties, discuss partnerships and not try to do everything by themselves. The same service has much more value if provided by the top Internet brand than by the manufacturers. In these times of hardship, device makers need to focus on their hardware core business again and again.

STB vs. Smart TV

With the arrival of SmartTV, triple-play ISPs are facing a huge challenge. The connectivity and interactivity coming through their Set-Top-Boxes is no longer a unique feature. Smart TV are now rich with interactive services. ISPs don’t like at all Smart TV as they are flooding their network with data and stealing their customer. What VoD service will the end user use? The one from its ISP or the one embedded in the TV set?

There are 2 tracks that ISP can follow:

  1. The first is to offer a 2-tiered service. Over the Top (OTT) services coming with SmartTV have no QoS whereas they guarantee the QoS of the services coming from their STB.
  2. The second track is to push further their STB experience with more features. It is the track followed by Free in France offering a STB featuring an Atom processor, a full browser, a remote control with an accelerometer, a blue ray player, etc. On the other hand TV set makers cannot compete as they cannot subsidize all these features. With these specs the STB is more like a smartphone capable of running games and advanced applications. E.g. the new Freebox revolution can run Asphalt 6 Adreline game (picture from last Aug.).

Free STB apps

By increasing its specs the STB is now eating in the console plate and some console like the Xbox is starting to feature interactive services. Frontiers between these product categories are blurring.
Some small ISPs are currently considering another route. As very soon, TV sets will be able to display multicast streams for the additional TV channels, they want to withdraw back. Their plan is to save some CAPEX in not offering any STB at all. They are just assuming their pipe positioning.