Mobile App Use

Flurry has an interesting new post on mobile app usage over the last year.

“overall app usage grew by 11% and time-spent in apps grew by 69%”

Most of the growth was in use of ‘messaging and social’ as well as other areas such as sports, news and shopping that demand that the user return to the app to discover new content.

Thoughts on the iOS and Android Duopoly

CSS Insight has a new article on The iOS and Android Duopoly and asks if there will ever be a third platform:

“Many mobile platforms have come and gone during the past decade, some created by start-ups and others by some of the world’s largest technology companies. Mobile platform projects such as Firefox OS, LiMo, Jolla, Maemo, MeeGo, Tizen, Sailfish, Ubuntu, WebOS and Windows 10 Mobile have had little impact on the market.”

The conclusion is that the chances of a new mobile platform succeeding aren’t good. Instead, it’s the services on top such as artificial assistants that will alter behaviour.

This is good news for mobile developers and those companies creating apps. After two decades of uncertainty, we can now develop for Android and iOS in the knowledge that the two main mobile platforms are not likely to change in the next decade. However, we need to remain alert to new mobile platform APIs provided by the ‘artificial assistants’ as these might increasingly be the chosen way to interact with apps and services.

Android to iOS Porting

It’s taken a long time, but we have finally reached the stage where a significant number of companies are looking for Android to iOS porting. There was a time when most development was iOS only, followed by a time where there was significant porting from iOS to Android. After this, there followed a period of enquiries for work on Android AND iOS. Now, finally we are seeing Android being ported to iOS.

The main problem with Android to iOS ports is that Android allows you to do so much more. More specifically, there are lots of things you can do on Android AND iOS, but the Apple Store T&Cs tie down what’s allowed. There’s even been an Android to iOS porting project this week that I wasn’t able to quote on because I knew two main features were not possible. Therein lies the problem starting with Android and porting to iOS.

Mobile Payments Growing

The news arm of GSMA, Mobile World Live is reporting that the Mobile payment market tipped to hit $780B in 2017.

This is based on a TrendForce report that cites increased availability of NFC chips and related security infrastructure as the reasons behind the larger takeup of mobile payments:

“Mobile payment multi-factor authentication techniques, which combine elements including fingerprint, iris and vein recognition technology, in addition to existing security protocols, will also help to drive adoption”

I have also seen this from an app-development point of view. More apps I am involved with are including payment integration using payment provider SDKs.

Opportunities When Device Shipments are Flat?

With Gartner predicting Flat Worldwide Device Shipments, including smartphones and tablets, where do you look for growth? Where are the opportunities? CSS Insight provides some clues. Today’s article on Mobile Business Subscriptions to Outgrow Consumer Segment in Western Europe says:

“In Spain, 21 percent of all cellular subscriptions are currently billed and used by businesses…

The UK is not far behind; with 16 million subscriptions, businesses account for 19 percent of all mobile connections”

Over the next four years, business subscriptions will outgrow the consumer segment in the five biggest European markets of France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom.

Businesses need apps both for internal use and by their customers. These kinds of apps tend to be of more use and better longevity than ‘fun’ consumer apps. Also, most don’t rely on app purchases or being accidentally discovered. The best current and ongoing opportunities are in business apps.

Android Growing, iOS Declining?

MobiForge has an interesting post on how Android seemingly grew at the expense of iOS last year.

What makes this data particularly useful is the fact that it’s based on web traffic, not device sales. It’s the closest we can get to determining changing mobile OS use based on the installed base rather than new device sales.

At one time it was said that Android would grow due to market saturation in developed markets and takeup of Android in other countries. However, looking at the numbers, even the developed countries are losing iOS and gaining Android.

It remains to be seen if this is due to people becoming disappointed with new Apple products or whether it’s just a ‘blip’ caused by something else such as Apple’s device release dates.

Being Found and Discovered

Google has a useful new post on Tips to be better found and discovered on Google Play that is just as applicable to iOS as it is to Android.

The main themes are building for quality, requesting only permissions that are needed and listening to users. If you think about it, contrary to the title of the Google post, these have less to do about being found and discovered and more about retention. For all but the largest of companies, being found and discovered on the app stores usually only comes through marketing and PR activities.

From Mobile First to Mobile Native

benedictevansBenedict Evans has a post on From mobile first to mobile native where he says he is seeing an evolution beyond ‘mobile first’ to what he calls ‘mobile native’. This is where we forget desktops/laptops and low end phones and only provide a service to modern smartphones.

At first I didn’t think there was much in this idea until I suddenly realised the app I have been working on for a client for the last few months is just this. While I can’t yet say, for confidentially reasons, what the app is, it’s in a sector that’s currently very manually resource intensive and the current ‘state of the art’ innovation tends to be companies trying to take the service fully online via the browser. Conversely, the service I am helping create is fully mobile – skipping the ‘online’ part altogether. While I can’t talk about the service yet, here there some generic observations and insights.

Such strategies are implicitly suitable to target millennials who haven’t known a time without mobile and as Benedict says, the

“mobile-native generation that takes this for granted”.

Going fully and only mobile requires simplification of (business) process flow, simplification of the offering and generation of new value via the facilities offered by the phone.

Part of that added facility is the carry everywhere, always available capability that can make services immediately available. Tied to the immediacy is communication. If you want to engage and retain then the app will need to have in-built communication. The app I am working on uses Intercom.

Further ‘facility’ is the use of context, sensors and the camera to provide utility associated with the service. For example, in the app I am working on we use the camera to check the user’s id using microBlink. An id can be checked in seconds as opposed to relying on days or weeks of manual processing.

As benedict says, think about

“… how many different reasons there are that it would be impossible to build the same thing on the desktop”

If you can answer this question for your service than you might have something suitable for implementing mobile native.

On reflection Benedict coining the term ‘mobile native’ is confusing as, in mobile, ‘native’ means Java/c/c++ as opposed to web technologies. However, his ideas have value and provide opportunities for many sectors to circumvent or skip current ways of doing things and build services that fully depend on rather than just support mobile.