Friday, 23 November 2012

The not-so-smart market shares of smart phones

We shouldn't be surprised if the latest IDC figures make Andy Rubin do it the Gangnam style. Android notched up 75% of the smartphone market share last quarter.

It's true that Android signs-up about 5 new users for every new iPhone user. But what the  statistics fail to highlight is that at least 3.5 times out of that 5, it's a fairly basic, relatively low spec & most likely buggy Android smart phone activated in some corner of the world. Since top-end Androids are Ice cream sandwiches or Jelly beans (or the fresher Jelly Bean 4.2)*, the Android version market share numbers make it a no-brainer to infer.

Let's talk about a Mr. Average Joe. Joe wants a new phone. And Joe picks up an Android phone be…cause: 
  1. Everybody around Joe is buying a ‘smart’ phone. Who wants to stay un-smart?
  2. The phone shop guy (sales girl on the phone) sings paeans about smartphones and how one would change Joe’s life (everyone’s pushing smartphones hoping to make some money once you enter that eco-system)
  3. The Android smart phone is a fairly affordable choice. It costs Joe the same/ a tiny bit more on contract as a non-smart phone. Who wants to stay un-smart when ‘smart’ costs just a few bucks more?

Joe does not buy the Android phone because he wants an ‘app for this & that’ or to leave an indelible mark on everybody’s timelines or to become the Superstar of the cafeteria he has lunch every day at with his mates. He may eventually try some of it because others are doing it. But these things don’t really matter when he picks up the Android. These are just nice to hear possibilities that made the few extra bucks worthwhile to spend. Most Joes end up regularly checking emails, indulging in a lil FB'ing, clicking & sending photos to family & friends and locating addressees on the map.

Now let’s talk things, ‘i’. The hallowed iPhone. Even Joe had heard on the news that the 5th avatar had come. But when the phone shop guy/ sales girl on phone tells him it’s ₹45,000/ $750/ £530 or a proportionately exorbitant amount every month, Joe doesn't pursue the topic any further. But then the phone shop guy/ sales girl tell him the happy news of the affordable Android that does all things that the iPhone does. And Joe loves it.
Joe would have made the necessary sacrifices to spend if was a believer in the Apple religion. But he isn't  For the middle-class budget conscious, the non-geek & the Comic Sans people (that’s most normal people), when they invest the kind of money that you have to spend to own an iPhone, it’s an unjustifiable overspend. It’s not the conscious ‘investment’ decision that fanbois, geeks & designers make driven by the desire for a digital lifestyle they wish to maintain; there’s hardly a correlation between their average monthly bank balance and the purchase decision. Or the nonchalant spend of the “my dad’s an ATM” tee wearing teenager, the rich show offs or the well-off professionals.

It’s amusing that many articles talk of the differences between the iPhone user & the Android user like it were of genetic origin. Doesn't this popular infographic about iPhone user vs. Android user just illustrate the rich –poor divide? The affluent buy iPhones. And the less privileged end up buying Androids because they don’t want to lag behind in the smartphone race (or simple they don’t want to look stupid.)

With Google starting to wage a price war with the new Nexus devices – the 4, 7 & 10, this divide would widen. If every Android device cost as much as an iOS device, the users would be similar, behave the same way and spend the same on a variety of apps. After all, there's nothing more behaviourally equalizing than affluence - the rich are the same, world over. It's the poor who add diversity (& IMHO make the world an interesting place.) And market reports & statistics would never capture this.

* Diabetics, steer clear of Androids! And someone investigate if people with a sweet tooth are more likely to buy an Android smartphone.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Sarit Arora talks about Emerging UX Trends & Practices at 'd+b Talks'

Few days ago, Sarit Arora from Yahoo! visited our campus to give a talk on 'Emerging Interaction design trends and User Research for Innovation'. Sarit touched upon areas of evolving nature of UX complexity and providing emotional, rational and meaningful solutions. Particularly interesting was leveraging the new interaction patterns of touch devices, Natural User interfaces and thinking of bigger ecosystem to derive at a concept. You can view some of his thoughts in the presentation he showed us below -

Monday, 21 May 2012

This week at d+b talks

This week at d+b talks, Sarit Arora from Yahoo talks on 'Emerging Interaction Design Practices'
and 'User Research for Innovation'.

25 May 2012 (Friday), 3:30-4:30 PM IST. Leave a comment if you want to attend.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Mobile Barcodes, The Next Generation mode of marketing

Is there a segment of the communications market more exciting and more rapidly evolving than the mobile space? Hardly. While it wasn’t the first to introduce a smartphone to the market, Apple’s iPhone has provided a boost to the mobile industry rivaled by none and a leader in mobile strategy. Only Motorola’s introduction of the StarTAC back in 1996 helped pull the industry forward to any like degree, but the application and content development the iPhone has driven sets it on a stage above all others. Users are more in to costly Apple device because of what it provides more than just a device just to make call rather do anything and everything on the fly.
There are currently more than 500000 applications available on the App Store, and more than 25 billion application download is the most hyped market till date. Sources tell almost 50% of apple revenue is generated from application downloads. Applications are available for nearly every use case, some offering business productivity enhancements, others pure entertainment, and still others delivering information to mobile devices. The same holds for the Android Market andBlackBerry AppWorld, though both pale in comparison to the volume of applications available to iPhone users.
But, despite the proliferation of mobile apps, they engender little interaction between users and brands other than the device manufacturers. However, another mobile segment is quickly coming into its own, highlighted at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, which will change that: the 2D mobile barcode. In addition to creating an interactive experience between the user and the vendor, the use of mobile barcodes in marketing and advertising campaigns provides an opportunity for network operators to monetize their assets.
A variety of mobile barcode use cases have proven not only its viability, but the breadth of application scenarios that are possible. Here are just a few:
  • Masabi has enabled rail U.K. rail system users to purchase tickets by sending an SMS and receiving a barcode on their phones that can be scanned by conductors in lieu of paper tickets.
  • The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is including barcodes in its print editions directing users to its mobile reader, which will soon also include additional content, including images and videos.
  • Pepsi placed barcodes on 400 million products in the U.K. last year, looking to better connect with the 18- to 24-year-old consumer group, offering mobile content specifically targeted for that audience.
  • In South America, Telefonica is using barcode technology to enable access to telecom services, such as adding SMS bundles.
  • Sports Illustrated included barcodes in its latest swimsuit issue that would allow users to receive short video clips of models on their phones.
  • NeoMedia ran a fundraising campaign at MWC to benefit Haiti, where it contributed $1 for each scan of barcodes on promotional posters at the event.
Currently, most mobile barcode applications focus on marketing and information dissemination efforts, where users are directed to Web sites or receive additional information via SMS or MMS, though the barcode-based purchases, like train tickets, are growing.
Two obstacles stand in the way, however.
One is use acceptance. As Chris Drake, Neustar’s vice president of marketing and product management, converged addressing Services, explained that the key to a successful mobile campaign is being able to deliver content and offers that are contextually accurate. In other words, they have to be tuned to the interests of users, which means they must be augmented with user profiles and even location-based information, driving higher conversion rates. Personal data of the users when mixed and ventured with the business scenario provides the added advantage then plain pale application. Users are highly motivated and driven by the scenario as they feel they are the part of the application and drives users to use it to the limit.
This also means mobile campaigns must be driven by user opt-in, rather than mass dissemination to broad user groups, which is why initial campaigns, like those of Pepsi, SI and the Post-Gazette, are likely to play a significant role in increasing acceptance of mobile barcode use. Once consumers begin to understand the convenience and ease of use of barcode technology as a means of retrieving information, they will be more likely to accept its use for revenue-generating transactions.
The other challenge is that most barcode applications are tied to operators and particular barcode readers. Neustar is also helping overcome that with its mobile barcode clearinghouse, designed to facilitate interoperability between readers and barcodes, which will also drive adoption of mobile barcodes as a mobile medium.
“The Neustar clearinghouse will unleash interoperability and allow you to understand any barcode, regardless of your reader and get to the offers you receive,” Drake said. “That’s a significant enhancement in ease of use and the customer experience.”
The great advantage the barcode market has over other mobile applications is that there is really only one prerequisite – a camera, which is now included with most devices. Readers can be downloaded at any number of Web sites (visit the Mobile Barcode Innovations Center at for an extensive list of downloadable readers and the latest barcode news and information).
Given the availability of the technology to end users, the mobile barcode space offers a significant opportunity for vendors to connect with consumers, regardless of device and, with the help of Neustar, mobile operators. Also, because mobile barcodes employ pull technology – campaigns rely on an action by the user to trigger a message – they comply with privacy requirements and regulations, which often preclude major brands from engaging in cutting edge campaigns for fear of alienating their audiences or potential litigation.

And, for all you trade show attendees out there, including media members, who are used to weighing down bags with marketing collateral, mobile barcodes offer a green alternative. By scanning a barcode at a vendor’s booth, we can retrieve documentation electronically at any time from a Web site instead of worrying about luggage going over prescribed weight limits. So all in all it can be said you come empty handed in to the show but you get a bag full of datas that you can use for whatever needs you want and that too you carry in your pocket. Smart simple and effective way of managing your needs with barcodes.

Friday, 4 May 2012

Can Gamification help achieve better adoption?

You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink. This proverb holds a lot of meaning in almost everything we do in our life, especially when we implement technology to do ‘stuff’. Technology can enable enterprises to become operationally more efficient and accurate, or help them connect with customers better. However, it is difficult to visualize and guarantee the long-term success of technology implementation without weighing it against underlying motivations and intrinsic human behavior (essentially of the people who are supposed to use these systems).

Almost all organizations have issues with respect to technology adoption, such as:
  • Users not filling time sheets accurately and on time, leading to revenue leakages
  • Delay in expense filing, leading to wrong financial data reporting
  • Employees not using newly developed intranet portal for information access
  • Employees not utilizing travel budget wisely

Behavioral psychology says that human beings have an inherent tendency to seek out novelty and challenges, to extend and exercise their capacities, to explore and learn. This is exactly what Gamification as a system design concept leverages to deliver more persuasively, and by engaging human and computer interactions, leading to a system that is not just adopted but loved by its users. Stephen Anderson describes some of these principles quite well using the Mental Notes that he developed to help designers design more persuasive interactions.

For example:
WebsiteDesign ChallengeGamified SolutionPrinciple – It is one of the top designer communities showcasing quality design work by individual designers.
How to get people upload quality design contentDribbble intelligently puts the challenge back to its users by allowing them limited number of slots to post their work.

Additional slots are only opened when a user has significant amount of “likes” on the work currently posted. People are awarded with badges as they gain popularity among other users.
Deliberate scarcity: We infer value in something that has limited availability or promoted as scarce. It is also used by airline and hotel sites where they show limited number of seats or rooms available at a certain price. - It is one the popular music sites that allows users to listen to their favorite music.
How to get users to find their favorite music easily out of millions of artists and bands has an interestingway of on-boarding new users by predicting their taste and preferences for music.

As part of the registration process, they simply ask users to “click on your favorite artists.”

As part of this process iLike learnt
a whole lot more about what a user likes to listen to and is able to immediately predict and present more relevant music choices to the user. This exercise is certainly mutually beneficial.
Feedback loops: We’re engaged by situations in which we see our actions modify subsequent results. iLike made a very small suggestion: “The more artists you rate, the better.”

Curiosity: When teased with a small bit of interesting information, people want to know more. I was curious about how would clicking on the artists I like affect results on the next page!

A few people may think that Gamification is the solution to all technology product adoption problems, which may not be. Moreover, a bigger misconception around Gamification is that, it is an added “layer of fun”. I think it is much bigger and more powerful than just adding a pinch of ‘fun’ because it can potentially impact human behavior in positive ways.

A more relevant discussion would be around ‘sustainability’ of some of these concepts that are derived out of game design thinking. When it comes to games, people have the tendency to either master or trick the games and then find them not so challenging and relevant after sometime. Given this, should designers rely completely on these concepts or should they continue to seek newer ways to design engaging interactions?