Mobile-only, not Mobile- First
Last year, we all were observing the impact of mobile adoption on consumer businesses in India. Mobile was often referred to the “second screen”, but it was changing in India due to rapid mobile adoption in India as well as globally. I don’t need to repeat huge mobile internet users compared to broadband internet in India. Unlike developed economies, India jumped the stage of “desktop internet” and a huge population was introduced to internet first time through mobile. It’s very similar to the way India jumped the wireline phones stage to come to mobile phone or as some people argue that we are jumping organized retail stage to directly come to e-commerce. Mobile-first was the obvious design as products were solving for a segment that was using mobile as their primary screen. But, 2015 shows us that for consumer businesses, mobile-first may not be enough, we need to go mobile-only.
What’s the difference?
The difference is in the mind-set of businesses and organization alignment. Mobile-First can be confusing and distracting. As an organization, I would still be working on web application for at least some part of my customer interactions. I will think about what screen sizes are best suited for different context. My product development process and road map will account for that.
Let’s look at the overall customer journey, which is the most important aspect for product development. Let me provide some data points for global markets:
- According to Neilson, 50% customers believe that mobile is the most important resource in their purchase decision-making. More than 1/3rd confessed that they used mobile exclusively.
- According to ComScore, mobile platforms accounted for 60% of total time spent on digital media last year
For India, this data would be even more in favour of Mobile.
It is practically impossible for a mobile-first consumer to undergo a digital experience on one screen without being forced, by design, to channel hopping to accomplish a desired task. Mobile experience should not be focused on an isolated aspect of customer journey. As an organization, I would like to take control of the entire customer journey involving awareness, research, engagement, purchase, service & support, loyalty. Mobile needs to be viewed as a self-contained platform rather than an isolated piece of customer journey.
So, what’s the lesson?
India is different than other economies due to high mobile penetration and usage compared to broadband and web applications. Consumers aren’t simply shifting from web to mobile, but many of them have never actually used web applications. Indian consumer is more comfortable on mobile apps and mobile website compared to web applications. This presents a great opportunity to designers and product managers to build mobile experience journey and innovate. In future, we can also see smartphones at the forefront of new technology changes, which will involve interconnection of other smart objects such as smartwatches, virtual reality devices. As a business, I would consider mobile-only as the basic foundation for the next generation of digital customer experience.
Don’t just build applications- build entire journey!