Mobile technology. Smaller, faster, lighter, thinner. It’s more portable, easier to use with touch interfaces, and- in the case of cell phones- always connected to the Internet.
But what is it that mobile devices such as the iPad and iPhone show us about consumer needs/wants? What is the real secret to Apple’s success, not only in the mobile market, but in all markets (media, personal computing, mobile, etc…)?
After analysis of consumer culture and technology trends, I have brought the secrets of successful consumer technology to three fundamental needs:
We should all know by now that “content is king”. We read a newspaper or a book, or a blog because we are looking for some sort of content. But so many people, when looking at Apple’s products, focus on the elegance of their designs and critique or praise them for their aesthetic. Until the iPod Touch, it was abundantly clear that the device was all about the music. With the release of the iPT (and subsequently the iPhone), the content available was expanded to better movies, photos, phone calls and then apps. While their products look (and often feel) pleasant, Apple seems to know that the packaging is all about the content.
But we also know that content is not enough. In a consumer culture, the most important thing is convenience. A consumer wants the least amount of perceived effort when selecting and using a product. Apple has had this in mind since the beginning, with their blue boxes (making long-distance calling more convenient) and then their Apple I (making personal computing more approachable). It was never about creating something new technology-wise; it was about creating something new cultural-wise- a new cultural experience. Apple has always known that a thing is of no cultural value if it is not easily accessible to the cultural consumers. In the words of Steve Jobs: “Real Artists Ship”.
And now we come to the focus of the mobile devices themselves- context. As the Internet has become more available to all people, technical or not, alike, the ways of accessing it have become friendlier to those who want the convenience of retrieving their content. Web pages have become friendlier, Google has made it easier to find what we want, and web services have allowed native applications to access specific, contextual relevant content. No longer must we navigate through the wilds of the web to find and consume the content that we want. The most popular websites seem to all do the same thing- give us immediate, relevant content for the context we’re in:
- Facebook – the friends/social experiences we want
- Twitter – the news/statuses we want from the sources we choose
- Youtube – the movies/videos we want, when we want them
And now, mobile computing brings even greater convenience to our contextual content. Simply push an app icon, and you get only the content you want.
What examples might I have missed? Let me know your thoughts in the comments, and/or Twitter @beninati.
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