Why Your Mobile Product is Destined for Failure

1024 576 David DeWolf

I have bad news. It’s more than likely that your mobile app will fail. Regardless of how brilliant the idea, how innovative your technology, how strong your development team, or how social your marketing team, unless your mindset is wildly different than the vast majority of “experts” out there building mobile software products, your initiative has failed before it even started. Why? Your way of thinking.

Across the mobile landscape, product managers and innovators are adopting one of three mindsets. Which one are you?

Mobile for the sake of itself

The most immature mindset was prevalent early on in the mobile adoption cycle. This mindset was focused on deploying a mobile presence for its own sake. For some, their motivation was as simple as being able to say they had a “mobile app.” Others sought to be first to market. Product implementations that grew out of this mindset remind me of the early days of “portal” software. They are shortcuts or simple click-throughs to the “real” product. The more robust versions may provide a bit of content aggregation, but nothing more. They are an advertising mechanism. They are a window into the “real product.”

Apps that are built from the “for its own sake” mindset can barely be called apps, never mind products. There is little to no innovation in these apps. They may leverage a touch screen or integrate with phone features. Their value is oriented in one direction – towards driving awareness and usage to the identified brand or product. Because of this, they do not build loyalty or drive usage. These apps may be downloaded thousands, or even millions, of times, but they will seldom be used more than once.

Mobile as a feature

As consumers began to grow weary of low-value apps, their attention turned to apps that drove real value. Both forward thinkers and those that quickly realized the flaw in a presence-oriented strategy began to produce feature-rich apps that were intended to deliver real consumer value. Product managers began to think about how they might deploy mobile features of their products in a portable manner. These apps build loyalty and stickiness and consumers appreciate the ability to harness the power of their favorite web app in a simple, mobile-oriented interface. Apps that provide rich mobile experiences are intentional about retaining users and expose real value to users.

While feature-rich apps provide a “do anywhere” convenience that is otherwise difficult to attain, they also share very similar usage patterns as traditional web applications. Why? Because their features are limited by the same constraints as the web. Their features are driven from a web paradigm, so naturally, they share similar traits.

Mobile First

Enter Mobile First, a product strategy that considers the portable device the primary deployment target and leverages its unique characteristics to innovate new ways to engage users. The tactile nature and portability of these devices, combined with their location awareness, propensity for bi-directional audio interaction, and other emerging features all provide opportunities for new levels of engagement. Innovators are finding new ways to engage business through these realities that were impossible in a laptop-oriented, web-dominated world.

A Mobile First strategy embraces the device, and by doing so, opens up a new world of feature possibilities that drive adoption and, even more important, loyalty. Forward-looking teams are deploying mobile software products that leverage these features without ever considering a standard web-based companion. These teams have flipped the traditional paradigm on its head. They consider enterprise and web deployments an add-on to their mobile product. Unfortunately, these teams are still rare.

A Mobile First strategy embraces the device, and by doing so, opens up a new world of feature possibilities that drive adoption and even more important loyalty.

Albert Einstein once said that “we cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” Today, most mobile apps that have been created with a presence-oriented strategy are downloaded and used once. Those that provide portable features for an existing product provide a new convenience. Both of these mindsets fail to deliver the loyalty and increased usage that has been promised by the mobile world.

If you want your product to break from this mold – change your thinking. Your Mobile Product will not be the success you imagine without a Mobile First mindset.

What is your mobile mindset? Are you developing apps because your marketing department declared that you need a presence? Is your CEO hot to trot and catching up with the competition and adding mobile features? Or, do you have a mindset that considers the mobile device an extension of the human person and innovates new ideas regarding how you might drive more value to the consumer, and as a result more adoption, usage, and market share?