Revisiting ‘The 12 Myths of Mobile UIs’- Part2

Aaron Marcus, the founder and President of Aaron Marcus and Associates, Inc wrote an article “The 12 Myths of Mobile UIs” for Software Development Magazine and was published in May 2003. Its been more than three years since then and lots of things have changed in the Mobile world across the globe. So let us revisit those 12 myths and see if there is any change in the stand.

In part-1, I discussed about the first myth 'Myth 1: 3G is here!', and found that the myth is still a myth. In this part, I will try to address the remaining myths.

Myth 2: Features are everything : This is quite complicated and difficult to assert any view. I disagree that it was a myth when the paper was published to an extent. Users always wanted more features on thier mobiles. While it is beyond any doubt that users not only want features, but they want a simpler and intuitive interface to use those features. Feature or killer apps are going to drive the demand for mobiles and services. So features are key. Along with that interface plays a much more important and vital role in adoption of mobile as a lifestyle. So my take would be, it was not a myth then. It is a not a myth now. And it will not be a myth in the near future. NOT a myth.

Myth 3: The Swiss Army knife approach is best : Again, I disagree to the original myth in concept. The Swiss Army Knives approach means, that you will build all the functions you can ever think of into one mobile device, means all-in-one device. This is not a myth. I strongly believe that you can not have specialized device for each function, but all common applications and devices must merge into one for ease of use and wider adoption. It is so painful to carry a seperate device for each function. As I mentioned earlier in many posts on this blog, "You can carry an ipod, olympus recorder, Palm PDA, a cell phone, a digital camera, a gaming console, a GPS navigator, a jump drive, a laptop to access internet, …………….. or you can have a smart phone that can do all of these and more. " So one device that can do all of it is a much  better choice than having one device for function. It is NOT a myth.

Myth 4: Focus groups and market analysis tools are the best way to detect user needs.: I agree in totality, that this is a myth at any point of time, nothing in particular to Mobile world. The consequences are much more serious in mobile world, though, if we follow these so called market analysis tools.  The best and the only approach is to try it out. The traditional ways of guess work does not work for mobile devices and mobile applications, just like web applications on internet. Yes, it is a myth.

Myth 5: If it works in Silicon Valley, it will work anywhere:  This is certainly a myth in general in most aspects of a market. And this a myth beyond any doubt when it comes to Mobile world. One of the striking part of Mobile revolution is that it does not start from Silicon Valley or USA, unlike other industries where Silicon Valley leads the innovation. Silicon Valley and USA are far behind in mobile technologies. Europe is leading in mobile adoption and The technology revolution is now happening in Finland, where Nokia is head quartered and Korea where the latest 4G technologies are introduced to the world from the likes of Samsung. In the world of Mobiles, Silicon Valley doesn't lead the innovation or has an relevance or influence, so there is no question about this myth. Yes, it is a myth.

Myth 6: The killer app will be games—er, sales force automation; oh, no, I mean ... : This myth is about the uncertainity in coming to a conclusion about some application or feature as a killer application or feature that will drive wider adoption and usage of mobile. This is nothing in particular to Mobile world. This is quite true for any thing in the digital world.  This is a general view and is true almost at any point of time. Yes, it is a myth.

Myth 7: The most popular device will be a combination phone-organizer-music and video player: This may seem to be a myth when the original article was published, but based on the recent hike in purchase of mobile phones which are equipped with video player, music player, a camera and full pledged organizer, I must say that this is quite a trend. Not a myth anymore. My belief is that pretty soon, mobile phones will be equipped with lot more features.  Look athe picture above. There are mobile phones available with all those features in the picture are quite favourites in Japan and Korea, which are undoubtedly leaders in creating a new cellular life style. And I believe that this will be THE trend in the near future across the globe. NOT a myth.

Myth 8 : The industry is converging on a UI standard. : Personalization and variety are very important aspects of mobile devices. This is quite true that every key player in the Mobile world has its own agenda, so converging on a UI will never happen. And I hate if it ever happens. That would kill the innovation. Differentiation is the key to attract and retain customers. And converging on to a single standard on UI makes it highly difficult to differentiate.  I hope the manufacturers just make UI more intuitive, thats all. I don't want to see same or similar interface on each mobile. Its a myth.

Myth 9: Highly usable systems are just around the corner: It quite depend on what you want from your mobile. If you want plain old voice calls on your mobile, you have a highly stable and usable systems available. From devices to networks, from features to applications, they are in pretty good shape at this point. However, if you want rich content and applications, faster networks, integrated systems that will enable to carry out your business or any business task, it is still a long way to go. And with so many influencers in the standards bodies and variety of platforms and frameworks, it will take a long time to offer meaningfully richer applications. Also the technology is constantly evolving. So at no point in future, there will be a stable system. It will be always on evolutionary path. So it is a myth.

Myth 10: One OS will dominate. No point in discussing it. It is a myth forever.

Myth 11: Mobile devices will be free—or nearly free. :  To an extent, this is true that you get a free mobile device or at a fraction of cost when you signup for 1year or 2year contract with any leading mobile operator. So in a way, it is not a myth. Also, with manufacturers from Asia are on the rise, like Samsung, the cost of mobile devices are going down, for a given feature set. So, in the near future, mobile devices will be almost free, when compared to what you pay for a nice dinner.

Myth 12: Advanced data services are just around the corner: This is directly connected to availability of networks and applications as discussed in myth 1. So, as long as 3G networks myth is true, this myth is still a myth. Networks to be setup, applications to be developed and subscribers have to adapt to new life styles for advanced data services to fluorish. May be 3-5 years down, atleast
.

Technologies, Networks, Mobile Devices and applications are fast evolving. And users in Asia and Europe are adapting to the new cellular life styles equally faster. But USA is lagging behing in both fronts. So these myths will be alive for a longer duration in USA while they are becoming completely irrelevelent in Japan, Korea and most parts of Europe already.

What do you think?

[tags]12-myths, 3G, Mobile-Life-Styles, Mobile-Applications, Mobile-Markets, USA, Aaron-Marcus, Samsung, Japan, Korea, Europe[/tags]

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