If there was a gold rush it may be over. One in ten thousand mobile apps are considered a financial success.

Consumers are increasingly turning to recommendation engines, friends, social networking or advertising to discover mobile applications rather than sorting through the thousands of mobile apps available. As a consequence, Gartner, Inc. predicts that through 2018, less than 0.01 percent of consumer mobile apps will be considered a financial success by their developers.

“The vast number of mobile apps may imply that mobile is a new revenue stream that will bring riches to many,” said Ken Dulaney, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner. “However, our analysis shows that most mobile applications are not generating profits and that many mobile apps are not designed to generate revenue, but rather are used to build brand recognition and product awareness or are just for fun. Application designers who do not recognize this may find profits elusive.”
Gartner: Less Than 0.01 Percent of Consumer Mobile Apps Will Be Considered a Financial Success …

A key differentiator might be a solid UX strategy.


Of course, teen behavior is a product, at least in part, of parental attitudes. As a father myself, I recognized a number of widespread smartphone- and social media-oriented habits that I have internalized myself and inadvertently presented to my kids as acceptable behavior. These include, of course, an addictive propensity to check one’s smartphones, often at the expense of remaining present in real world situations; the habit of sleeping with a phone by one’s bedside or even with the phone in bed; and the reflex of looking at the phone before literally any other function upon waking up in the morning. These have all become normalized over the past decade, and it’s pretty clear they’re not doing much good for anybody.
Are Smartphones, Social Media—and Designers—Ruining Teenagers?


6 points on mobile UX

Some key points from 15 Mobile UX Facts & Insights (2017), that are relevant to what I am working on lately.

  1. Cellphones are ubiquitous. A Pew Research report suggests that 95% of Americans own a cellphone; around 77% of U.S. adults own a smartphone, which is up from 68% from last year’s report. Smartphone ownership rate is highest in South Korea (88%) and lowest in Ethiopia (4%). This rate also varies by age, with 97-98% of millennials (18-34) owning a smartphone.
  2. Mobile applications are predominantly used for killing time, but a large percentage of online shopping now happen on mobile phones. Mobile commerce is expected to reach 45% of the e-commerce market or $284 billion by 2020.
  3. People use their phones around 80 times each day; 69% of digital time is spent on mobile, versus 31% on desktop.
  4. Mobile delays are worse than standing in line and are considered more stressful than watching horror movies!
  5. On average around 27 apps are used per month and around 6-10 are used in a week.  People spend, on average, about 40 hours a month on their mobile apps. Women spend, on average,about 42 hours a month, whereas men spend 39 hours a month. App usage also varies by age. Smartphone users, ages 18-24, access around 25 apps per month. 25-49 year olds access 28 apps, 50-60 year olds access 25 apps, and 65+ access an average of 21 apps per month.
  6. Though portrait orientation is slightly more preferred to landscape (60% versus 40%), users noted that how they hold their devices depends both on the device size and on the activity, such as watching videos, playing games, reading, or web browsing. This may be changing.

We are addicted to our phones not because we rely on them, but to the extent that we recruit them to a harmful project of self-avoidance. They do not mean to hurt us. But we may – and probably do – use them to injure ourselves. Addiction sounds horrible. But it is a hard name for a normal inclination: a habit of running away from the joys and terrors of self-knowledge.
How to Live More Wisely Around Our Phones


Luke Wroblewski on mobile design


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Luke Wroblewski


Words on screens are not substitutes for words on paper

The differences between page and screen go beyond the simple tactile pleasures of good paper stock. To the human mind, a sequence of pages bound together into a physical object is very different from a flat screen that displays only a single “page” of information at a time. The physical presence of the printed pages, and the ability to flip back and forth through them, turns out to be important to the mind’s ability to navigate written works, particularly lengthy and complicated ones. We quickly develop a mental map of the contents of a printed text, as if its argument or story were a voyage unfolding through space. If you’ve ever picked up a book that you read long ago and discovered that your hands were able to locate a particular passage quickly, you’ve experienced this phenomenon. When we hold a physical publication in our hands, we also hold its contents in our mind.

The spatial memories seem to translate into more immersive reading and stronger comprehension. A recent experiment conducted with young readers in Norway found that, with both expository and narrative works, people who read from a printed page understand a text better than those who read the same material on a screen. The findings are consistent with a series of other studies on the process of reading. “We know from empirical and theoretical research that having a good spatial mental representation of the physical layout of the text supports reading comprehension,” wrote the Norwegian researchers1. They suggested that the ability of print readers to “see as well as tactilely feel the spatial extension and physical dimensions” of an entire text likely played a role in their superior comprehension.

Paper Versus Pixel. The science of reading shows that print and digital experiences are complementary.


China now has 1.104 B mobile users

Statistics released December 23rd by China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) say that as of the end of November 2012, there were 1.104 billion mobile phone users in that country, an increase of nearly 118 million people during the first eleven months of 2012 (tech crunch).

This would mean that about 82% of China’s population currently uses a mobile phone (though as commenters noted below, many of these mobile phones could have dual sim cards, which was not taken into account in the MIIT’s report). The number of 3G phone users reached 220 million, or about 20% of mobile phone users. Broadband Internet service users increased by 24.03 million in the first 11 months of the year, while the number of mobile Internet users increased by 111 million to 750 million. From January to November 2012, mobile communications revenue in China totaled 724.53 billion yuan (or about $116.26 billion US dollars), an increase of 11% over the same period last year.

Full report on techcrunch.


Not Science Fiction: The dream of the medical tricorder

mobile-ultasound-device

Along with teleportation, speech-driven computers and hand-held wireless communicators that flip open, the medical tricorder was one of many imaginary future technologies featured in “Star Trek”. Ever since, researchers have dreamed of developing a hand-held medical scanner that can take readings from a patient and then diagnose various conditions. Now, nearly five decades after “Star Trek” made its debut in 1966, the dream is finally edging closer to reality.

…[AliveCor] has developed an iPhone case with two electrodes that can perform an electrocardiogram (ECG). Dr Topol recently used a prototype to assess a fellow passenger on an aircraft who was suffering from chest pain. He concluded the passenger was having a heart attack, and the plane was diverted. Other firms are also developing medical add-ons for smartphones. MobiSante, based in Redmond, Washington, has devised a smartphone-based ultrasound system that was granted FDA clearance in early 2011. A hand-held ultrasonic probe plugs into a smartphone, which generates and displays an image. It costs $7,500, a fraction of the price of a conventional ultrasound.

Medical technology: The hand-held diagnostic devices seen on “Star Trek” are inspiring a host of medical add-ons for smartphones


Rise Alarm Clock


Rise is a "delightfully simple and unique" alarm clock, now available for your iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch. Shows promise. I prefer UI’s like this to the more heavy handed skeumorpic style seen in most of Apple’s offerings.


‘Magic’ Phone Booth Lets Children Talk With Santa

Brazilian telecom company Oi sets up a phone line to the ‘North Pole’ for the holidays. PSFK reports.

In Rio de Janeiro, Oi set up a ‘magic’ pay phone that allows children to call and speak with Santa Claus. As the children were talking, retired actors on the other end of the line could see them on a video monitor, allowing for real-life conversations as opposed to an automated script.
The holiday magic didn’t stop there. While the children were talking with ‘Santa,’ small gifts would appear on the step behind them. It even began to ‘snow’ as the building opposite the pay phone was lit-up into a winter wonderland using projection mapping. For the icing on the cake, there were passing ‘elves’ and children’s choir that would emerge to sing holiday carols.

Read more.