I remember B.i. (before iPhone) when applications on mobile devices were something only hardcore travelers, geeks, and gamers had tried. But now, you say mobile, and the nearest marketing person responds with “So when can I get my app”? For the first time, it’s easy, and really fun to download an app. I currently have 253 apps on my iPhone – I don’t think even Apple saw this coming.
We had Forrester come out to our $largecompany about a year or so before the iPhone, even then – people were trying to make the decision on what to do in mobile. This was before apps were easy to download and mobile browsers were converging on a standard. Forrester at the time said what pretty much everyone was saying, if you don’t REALLY need an app, STAY AWAY! It’s amazing how quickly things change in the mobile space.
With Apple’s desire to own the entire experience it’s no wonder they got it right. You can’t string together a series of unrelated things and expect them to work together. It takes owning the experience, which is something Apple excels at. But even with the success of the iTunes music store, when the first release of the iPhone OS – apps were nowhere in sight. The web app was enough. But when they finally opened up that SDK to create apps, wow did the iPhone get way more useful.
Again, I think Apple surprised themselves this time – and the interactions used to access these apps on the iPhone home screen show they didn’t think people would have more than 15-20 apps, if that. Someone like me with my 200+ apps, loose apps, forget about apps, and have a hard time finding some apps. And my 5 year old, once he fills his screens, he can’t really spell yet, so searching is out for him. It’s time to fix this, and I hope with iPhone OS 4 they will. But let’s think about how they could fix this problem… How do you make it easy to sift through 250+ apps?
For me it’s GAMES. I’m amazed the quality of games coming to the iPhone, they keep getting better and better – and both me and my 5 year old are big fans. In fact, when I asked my five year old if he was interested in a Nintendo DS or an iPod, he went with the (what he calls) “phone”. I’ve had gameboys, PSP, and other handhelds, but combine the fit and finish of Apple, with some really creative game designers, and you have the ultimate gaming device.
I also have a lot of useful apps that I’d say I use daily to weekly, and a large set for when I travel. Apple needs to devise a way for our pages to reflect the different contexts we’re in on a mobile device. When I’m around town, one screen set – when out of town a different set – and how bout a “lounging around” context? Maybe we need “sets” that we can flick up and down? Or use voice command to put the iPhone in a home/work mode? How about a category switcher using a little page curl at the bottom of the screen? I’m sure Apple will figure this out, but they need to do it soon… I can’t find my Plants vs. Zombies