What creates great mobile phone user experiences?

As I had mentioned in earlier posts about mobile phone technologies here and here, this is a discussion about designing user experience to become consumer friendly.

Highlights include:

Products/Services were created from human needs.  For example, with Twitter, there is the need for continuous status updates.

Mobile phone manufacturers need to be able to control all processes in the value chain in order to create effective user experiences.  For example, with the iPhone, the user interface, core applications, industrial design are all completely seamless.  This creates consistency in all facets of the user experience.

Creating user loyalty seems to be more difficult for the carriers versus the mobile phone manufacturers.  This is maybe resultant from the pervasive short-term outlook, as carriers are capital intensive, and cash flows can vary monthly.  Whereas, in order to create effective user experience, it typically takes a longer time and requires a long-term outlook.

Carriers are somewhat at fault for not emphasizing user experience when purchasing handsets from the manufacturers.  They have a tremendous influence because of their purchasing power as well as their proximity to the consumer’s purchasing cycle.  Mobile phone manufacturers (e.g. Apple, RIM) that have strong competencies in software design and development have an edge versus ones that do not because of the challenges fraught from the design and development of user friendly software.  Mobile phones have changed its function from consumption-based to now creation-based (e.g. Flickr, Twitter, camera phones, etc.).

Other ideas to create a good user experience would be to capitalize on current technology that the user already understands.  For example, Twitter already uses technology that is SMS-based.  Many start-ups fall into the mistake of creating a handset or an application that have a gorgeous user interface however, because of the novelty of this interface, users do not know how to use this.

Examples of good user experience include:  single-devices that perform one task well, in other words, with simplicity; having some software that is multi-platform compatible (able to use on mobile phones, PC, etc.); being able to pay and receive alerts through SMS, finding existing technologies that function well in other parts of the world and importing this to other areas of the world that this technology is a novelty (e.g. public transportation payment systems through SMS).

I think to create a good user experience for the mobile phone requires ameliorating the daily lives of people.  Being able to pay for parking, public transportation, at convenience stores, fast food places with a mobile phone would be ideal.  When more people use an application or platform, the margin of utility increases.  As someone in the video mentioned, taking an application or platform that is widely used, and spawning new technology that makes people’s daily life better would be ideal. Mobile phone manufacturers not only need to have influence and control over the value chain, but it would be best if it can work in sync with the mobile phone carrier to oversee and control the user experience.  This partnership may change the short term view from the carrier, and the same time bring awareness and consumer insights delivered from the short term view to the manufacturer and making the user interface better.


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