Mobile vs TV

flurryFlurry has a new press release on how people, in the US at least, are now spending more time in mobile apps than watching TV – and that excludes mobile browsing…


Flurry expect the success of apps to extend to (Apple) TV…

“And just as they did on the iPhone and iPads, consumers will download these apps and spend plenty of time on them, leaving the dozen or so cable channels lost in a sea of apps”

I am not so sure. I don’t think people are spending more time in apps just because they are, well, apps. Mobile devices are personal things while apps on TVs are more of a shared experience with other people in the room. I really can’t see people starting up, for example, Facebook, Twitter, eBay, Amazon or Tinder on their TV where it’s harder to navigate and less private. From a personal perspective, at home we already have set top boxes with apps, fire/chrome sticks with apps, a TV with apps and I can’t say any of the extra 3rd party apps have been used on our TV.

Instead, I think the future lies with smartphone/tablet apps that integrate with the TV. For example, in the UK we have a YouView set top box service that has a great app where you can set up recordings when you are out and about. There are also opportunities for TV program makers and broadcasters to better engage with viewers through apps.

Serving Mobile Addicts

flurryLast week I highlighted how, with in-app purchases, 1.14% of paying customers generate 30% of the sales. This links in well with a recent report by Flurry on Mobile Addicts. These are super users that use apps between 16 and 60 times daily. Flurry has worked out that this class of user has grown by 34% over the last year…


This group of users isn’t necessarily that small. Flurry says…

“If the number of Mobile Addicts there were in 2014 had been the population of a country, such country would have been the 8th largest in the world last year, slightly below Nigeria. In 2015, the growth of the Mobile Addicts population would have propelled that country to the 4th spot, just below the United States”

Here’s what these people are actually doing…

What does this mean for 3rd party developers? First, I think it vindicates the use of ‘Messaging & Social’ if it works within your kind of app. It also shows that there’s plenty of opportunity in ‘Utilities & Productivity’.

As well as thinking about short term retention, think about longer term users. Try to design your app to also help your best and longest users. How? For example, let them save things, let them see what they have done in the past, allow searching when data gets larger, allow old or unwanted data to be purged to save space. Reward your longer term users with things like larger quotas or extra features. Over time, migrate their existing data as the app gets updated. Allow them to backup data so they can use the app when they upgrade their smartphone. Think longer term.

Multi Device Habits

campaign.pngAn article at Campaign highlights OMD UK’s Future of Britain research that shows that people swap devices 21 times an hour while watching TV in the evening. People are flipping to other devices at times when they are bored with the TV. I can certainly believe this, especially when multiple people are watching the same programme. Often there’s at least one person is less interested in what’s being watched by the group.

The article concentrates on what this means for TV ads. However, I find it more interesting that while TV manufacturers are integrating the Internet and apps into smart TVs, people are instead accessing via their personal devices. Apart from viewing Netflix or YouTube, most people want to do more personal things such as access social media, view sites or shop rather than share all this with other viewers in the room.

World Going Multi Screen

thinkinsights.gifGoogle’s Think Insights has some free research on The World Has Gone Multiscreen: How The Mobile Internet Changes Our Lives. The key takeaway is that multi-screen is the new normal. The global average is nearly 2 connected devices per person. The majority will soon own smartphones and tablets are rapidly catching up.


I believe too few companies/developers think about multi-screen when designing apps. Multi-screen is much more than data sync and functional and UI replication. If budgets allow, avoid the lowest common denominator. Instead, think about designing the app for typical use on that device and retaining each device look and feel. In some cases syncing settings can be more useful than syncing data. Consider catering for multiple users on particular types of device. For some apps, explore funnelling your users onto the device where you are most likely to make a sale. Also, there can be opportunities to control one device via another.


silverpop.pngIf you are into mobile email marketing then you might take a look at SilverPop’s "Beyond Mobile-First: Think Multiscreen". Loren McDonald explains how mobile email marketers should think about how mobile email fits into an overall multi-screen strategy

However, the same message also applies to some kinds of app. For some apps it’s becoming just as important to think about how your app ties into use on the desktop, tablets, and increasingly on the smart TV. Do you need to sync data so that users can do everything everywhere or should you customise functionality based on the particular platform? Should you create smart links so people can easily navigate from one platform type to the next? Should other screens support multiple users or just one as on the smartphone? Digging deeper and further into the future, is it possible to remote control one screen from another, for example doing something on the phone that’s actioned on the desktop or TV?

If you think about it, most of today’s successful apps, to some extent, work across multi-screen. Maybe yours should?

MoMo London – Living in a Multi-Platform World

mobilemondaylondon.gifLast night I was at the MoMo London event on ‘Living in a Multi Platform World’. Here are some notes and, as this is the domain I work in, a few of my thoughts in italics.

The event was kindly sponsored by Microsoft. Alex Reeve, Director of Mobile Business Group gave a presentation on how Windows Phone 7 represents a new scale of investment in mobile for Microsoft. ‘This side of Christmas’ we should see new devices that…

  • Implements what Microsoft are calling ‘Glance and Go’. Aggregating people/contacts/social.
  • Provide transparent sync of images, wherever (device, PC, web) they are stored.
  • Integration of IE, Search (Bing), Outlook and Zune  (music).
  • ‘Real’ Office apps (with full roundtrip to PC and back support).
  • Developer tools to ease development.

As mentioned in a previous post, technically, I am sceptical about Windows Phone 7. Also, like some other people I spoke to at at MoMo, I question whether people always want the MS way of doing things (Bing, Outlook, IE, Xbox). These days, many people use other apps and services (e.g. Google Search, GMail, Opera) and these should be just as easy to use.

The remainder of the evening was a panel format moderated by Marek Pawlowski (MP) of PMN. The panellists were Oded Ran (OR)  from Microsoft, Tom Hume (TH) of Future Platforms, Jerry Ennis (JE) from Flirtomatic, Ilia Uvarov (IU) from RG/A and Nick Lansley (NL) from Tesco.

  • In order to provide some perspective, MP gave a reasoned estimate that the smartphone installed base, at the end of this year (2010), is likely to be only 11% of the 3.5 billion unique users.
  • MP went on to ask the panel what platform people should target and why. NL reasoned that it makes sense to develop for the platforms your target audience uses. However, it their case this meant targeting a platform that can’t provide a great user experience. NL mentioned targeting a ‘Hero’ device so as to derive marketing, news and traction. JE started with Java and moved to the mobile web when it became too difficult to support a large number of different Java devices. Would they make the same decision again? They are now seeing a large number of iPhone users on the mobile web which might change things. TH mentioned the possibility of using AdWords to do consumer research to catch the type of end users you wish to target and then working out their phone type. IU said the selection of platform also depends on geographic region as different countries have different phone market shares. OR suggested an approach of going for a platform that’s about to launch (hey Windows Phone!) so as to piggyback the launch PR.

My thoughts on this were that little was said about phone capability as a criteria for platform selection. Many projects I work on are only possible on some platforms.

  • Someone in the audience, from TouchNote, mentioned problems on the Ovi store due to store user experience issues. In particular, problems due to the lack of push for updated applications.
  • MP asked what developers need of platform providers. App stores where seen to be critical. App update was seen to be important, not just having the capability to update, but also to manage updates to so many apps that might need updating at any one time.  NL suggested developers encourage people to upgrade by bundling new features with bug fixes otherwise users might not see the advantage of upgrading. There were thoughts that you shouldn’t just rely on the app store mechanism. There were ideas from the audience on a traffic light system for updates showing the urgency/priority and/or ordering updates by most used.

My thought on this is that it’s not just about apps. Ease/desirability of development also involves tools, documentation, support (forums, wikis etc), examples, SDK restrictions (yes, thinking of Apple here), availability of devices for testing and an ecosystem where developers are eager to help one another. In my opinion, Android seems to have managed this best.

  • MP asked how long multi-platform providers can continue funding these competing platforms?

My thought on this is that they will do this as long as they continue to make money. As it’s a large market, many will be able to co-exist.

  • MP asked how platform providers might help developers make more money with the increasingly lack of visibility due to a ‘sea of apps’. There were comments that platform providers should be more transparent with statistics and charge less commission so that it becomes viable to sell real items within an application.
  • JE was of the opinion that payment in general is holding back mobile. One example is Apple’s disallowing of in-app purchase for virtual currencies. This has caused the strange situation that some developers have created further apps to add features to the first app. Also, payment via operator, while preferred by most end users, doesn’t work well internationally and is especially troublesome for users in the US.
  • MP widened the discussion to multi-platforms outside mobile. NL of Tesco explained how they have opened up their APIs rather than trying to support every platform themselves.
  • NL went on to explain how he thought initiatives such as JIL, BONDI and HTML5 might not be successful in uniting platforms because people now want the best user experience and not one that is the lowest common denominator. Users don’t share the concerns of developers – they won’t compromise what they want just because it’s easier to write that way.

I tend to agree. See my previous posts below. I also feel that developing for the lowest common denominator just opens you up to competition from people who have implemented a better solution via ‘native’ apps. Also, it’s my experience that to get anywhere near the look and feel of a native app you have to use lots of javascript libraries specific to that particular platform. This kind of defeats the write-once run-on-everything claim for HTML5.