We get confused when building applications; the technology should be incidental to delivering the experience, it should be the means rather than the end. Sadly both IT and marketeers usually don’t see it this way.
I was recently working with a telco who were running a campaign for a single application that sits on a Symbian phone and gives the user access to all their mobile services (rather than having to access them individually via the mobile web). This is not unusual, organisations marketing the technology rather than the benefit or the experience. The technology should be incidental to what you are selling.
It is hard to put it better than what Duncan Cragg writes
“What most people want on their mobiles is not the applications, but the stuff they animate.
People only accept the concept of applications (whether a native app or a Web app) because that’s all they’ve been offered, and it’s largely good enough. But no-one actually wants to download and launch and register and log in to a local find-your-friends application – they just want to find their friends in the area – now! And they shouldn’t then have to flip between the find-your-friends map owned by that application and the restaurant review map owned by another.
They don’t want Facebook videos and YouTube videos and phone videos. They just want to share videos. They shouldn’t have to think about whether to send a picture by MMS or to use an upload app, after remembering the login. They don’t want multiple ways of sending messages: IM, SMS, Twitter, Facebook, etc. They shouldn’t have to think about how to tell their friends about some news item – whether to post a TinyURL link on Twitter or copy the text manually into Facebook.
They only want one shared calendar, not the phone calendar and a Google calendar and events on Upcoming.org, that need two more logins. They shouldn’t have to think about how to synchronise music or contacts lists on the phone, the iPod, the PC, some memory card and online. “
He goes on to introduce the ‘U-Web’ Mobile 2.0 platform. This is exciting stuff and well worth a read. The challenge is not just about the IT industry getting excited about U-Web, the drive needs to also come from marketeers focussing upon “what” experience they want the customer to enjoy rather than “how” it will be delivered. They shouldn’t be distracted by the application that the experience will be delivered through, they should focus on delighting the customer and driving value to the organisation.