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November 12th, 2015

Here Are The Biggest Issues Facing Today’s Mobile Leaders

When something is everywhere, it ceases to be interesting.

A running list of what keeps today’s mobile leaders up at night:

Millennials and digital natives, delivering mythical omni-channel experiences, frictionless interactions, fragmentation of ecosystem, app discovery, notification fatigue, the influence of social media, content creation and consumption, the Web, brand messaging, user acquisition and engagement, bugs and performance issues …

You get the idea.

Mobile First: A Quaint Concept

Attendees at this week’s Open Mobile Summit in San Francisco could have been forgiven for thinking that every speaker on every panel was singing from the same hymnbook. Mobile first has been supplanted by mobile only, which has then been overtaken by user experience and engagement. Underpinning everything is the knowledge that having an app is no longer enough.

Skyhook’s vice president of product David Bairstow said at the conference that 95% of all apps are abandoned in the first month. Localytics points out that 76% of users will abandon an app after opening between two and five times. Dynamic user experiences and achieving what Bairstow referred to as “appticipation” were what companies needed to focus on both now and in the near future—in other words, giving users what they need when they want it.

Listen to the Voice of Your Customers Improve Your Customer Experience With App Store Analytics Get It Now

This refrain was repeated so many times throughout the two day Bay Area conference that it could have almost been the event slogan: I am a user, I want what I want when I want it. People want a unique experience every time they launch an app and expect that the journey will be tailored to their requirements.


Brian Solis, Principle Analyst, Altimeter Group, talks about end users at Open Mobile Summit

People want moments of delight—another oft-repeated phrase—and this can cause issues for brands that haven’t optimized their app or even a device to provide those moments. Mobile has become our constant companion and requires our attention on a regular basis.

Millennials, for example, are rarely without their mobile device—87% of Millennials said in a recent survey that their mobile never leaves their side, cited by more than one panel. They are not the only ones that are joined at the hip to a smartphone.

See also: The Mobile Downturn: “An App For That” Is Not A Business Model

Managing director of design and innovation company Fjord Steve Weinswig said 70% of people watching television are actually on their phone at the same time. Dorth Ralphaely of Bleacher Report said that 80% of people on its service are mobile and 84% of all time is spent on only 5 apps—Facebook and Twitter being the obvious contenders.

People Want To Be Appreciated

Assuming that these figures are accurate, then it becomes even harder for mobile leaders to predict the future with any real accuracy. Yes, people want seamless experiences and frictionless interactions but that is not always possible. UStream CEO and founder Brad Huntstable said that consumers don’t actually enjoy the current landscape. People are bombarded with too much content without enough noise filtering which lead to stressed experiences.

How can mobile leaders improve the experience and optimize it for each and every user? Personalization is certainly one way and an increasingly popular option, but mobile leaders need to appreciate that it is the entire ecosystem that could do with a new coat of paint.

In an interview with ARC, Weinswig said that delivering frictionless experiences and removing things from your thinking list was likely to be the way for mobile to evolve in the future. Citing Uber as a prime example of how an app makes the user interaction seamless, he said that the next generation of devices—including wearables such as smartwatches—would define mobile and touch every aspect of our lives.

He said:

Mobile is the remote control for your life and if clients and customers are not thinking that way, then they are not thinking about themselves as people. I would rather have this [smartphone] change the channel, schedule my DVR, use a QR Code to re-fill my drug prescription, show my boarding card … I want this to do everything.

Weinswig’s ambitions for mobile are not unique—mobile can already do (almost) everything. Financial transactions, live video and music streaming, sports, gaming, entertainment, date, photography, news, shop, social media, the sharing economy—there is an app for everything and thousands of companies that believe that they are offering what the people want.


Kevin Weil of Twitter at the Open Mobile Summit

The problem is that just building a mobile app is not enough. The panel sessions at the Open Mobile Summit showed that time and time again. The people want more. As mobile has become the dominant way in which we interact and engage, user expectations have followed a similar upward trajectory. Raising expectations is not mobile’s fault, rather it gives mobile leaders an insight into how they can potentially mold the future.

Mobile Is Not Going Away …

Customers now come to brands through mobile and although not every interaction is always successful, understanding where the human interaction points are is a useful step to take. Mobile leaders know that interactions can often be anonymous and users are accustomed to a certain degree of self-service. The challenge is matching what consumers need with what can actually be offered and this comes back to more than simply providing moments of delight.

Mobile leaders should be concerned about some of the more prevalent issues affecting the industry, but that does not mean that users are going to abandon mobile at any point in the near future. Instead, users are going to expect mobile to give them the experience they need at a time of their choosing and brands need to go to where the audience is as opposed to waiting for them to appear.