Hi! I’m Eric Kim. I a co-founder and vice president of user experience design at Modo Labs. We’re a mobile software company based in Cambridge, MA, with premier customers in higher ed, healthcare, and enterprise. Marketo was kind enough to invite me back to speak today about mobile trends for 2015.
In order to look ahead to 2015, we’ll start with a recap of some key developments we saw in 2014 and how they lay the groundwork for what to expect in the year ahead Because while 2014 was an amazing year in mobile, when we look back at it a couple of years from now we’ll say that the real significance of 2014 was in how specific things that happened this year were hugely pivotal in the evolution of the mobile marketplace for years to come. As a UX guy, I’m going to focus not just on technology but on user behaviors and the relationships between technology and the people who use it.
Let’s start with a summary visualization of the mobile marketplace in 2014…
And that pretty much sums it up! Another superlative year, in every sense: the most unit sales ever, the most internet traffic, the most m-commerce, the biggest devices, the biggest M&A deals, you name it. I’m sure you’ve all been seeing some of the record-breaking stats.
In other words, it seemed like just yet another amazing year in the mobile marketplace. But it was not. I think 2014 was a really amazing year in ways that aren’t immediately obvious, because of a remarkable alignment of user behaviors and new technologies and what they mean for the years ahead.
I'm going to call out some specific developments that are remarkable not just in themselves but for how they lay the groundwork for more seismic shifts to come.
Some of the splashiest news in any given year is usually the announcement of new hardware. We love our toys! Apple dominated the news cycle with the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus – this is Apple giving in and making the big-screen phones the market had clearly been demanding. Killing it in sales – the 6 Plus already has nearly half the market in its size class. Not just about size, either: under the hood, something potentially more important NFC, which is the hardware support for Apple Pay. People have been trying to popularize mobile payments – paying for stuff in physical stores and online using nothing but your smartphone. Google has been trying unsuccessfully to popularize its version, Google Wallet, for over four years now, but has very little real market traction. Apple Pay is Apple’s bid to crack that market, which is estimated to be worth $145 Billion, and it only works the 6 and 6 Plus.
Just kidding! This is actually a Fossil Wrist PDA, powered by PalmOS, from way back in 2003.
We’ve come a little ways since then. The real Android Wear smartwatches look appropriately more modern. Not the first smartwatches – Fossil (like you just saw), Pebble, Sony, Garmin, Microsoft, and others have been trying and failing for years – but Google’s Android Wear is the first viable smartwatch PLATFORM, with a robust dev kit and well-documented design patterns for a UX based on momentary glances and tiny bites of information. I bought a Moto 360 a month ago and it’s been pretty awesome – very clearly a first-generation, early-adopter device, but already showing some of the tremendous promise of the Android Wear platform.
Ok, I’m cheating here of course – the Apple Watch was announced this year but won’t ship till early 2015. But the SDK has been released, and some prominent developers are already working on Watch apps. Like Google, Apple is pushing this not just as a device but as a PLATFORM. Notably, like Android Wear, the Apple Watch platform is built around momentary interactions and snippets of content. And like Android Wear (and Microsoft Band, which was also released in late 2014), Apple Watch will be essentially useless on its own. It really only works when attached to a smartphone in a kind of multi-device symbiosis.
And multi-device symbiosis is also what dominated 2014’s major overhauls to the big mobile platforms. Google did its part with Android 5.0, called Lollipop. Lollipop introduced Material Design, Google’s new, card-based, layered approach to UX and UI. It’s remarkable for two things: First, it’s incredibly thorough and well-thought out, both in its look and in its interaction patterns. Reading google.com/design is like reading the Apple Mobile Interface Guidelines for the first time back in 2007: it’s like taking a master class in interaction design. Second, it was conceived from the beginning as cross-platform and cross-device. It’s not just Android, it’s everything from Google Maps to Gmail to Google Docs to Hangouts, on Android, iOS, Chrome OS, and desktop web apps. Google wants you to have a consistent Google experience, with access to the same cloud-hosted information and services on every device, no matter what devices you’re using. Some other very useful things that are Android-specific: interactive notifications on the lock screen Speaking of lock screen, allows the phone to automatically unlock and stay unlocked when you’re in a trusted location, or near a trusted device. My Android phone senses when my Android smartwatch is nearby and automatically stays unlocked.
Apple is emphasizing similar things with iOS 8 and the latest version of Mac OS, both released in 2014. Interactive Notifications micro-interactions taking seconds without leaving your current activity Cross-device Continuity Encouraging users to take their activities seamlessly from Mac to iOS and back Get a call on phone, answer on Mac Edit a doc on Mac, pick up editing on iPad without having to launch app, navigate to doc, navigate to same spot Browse web on Mac, open to same page on iPhone right from lock screen without having to remember and type in URL HealthKit More personal than ever before – lets devices and apps and services not just collect your health and fitness data but securely share it with other apps and services Google Fit is the equivalent announced on Android Lollipop this year. Apple Pay More convenient than ever before – another quick, momentary mobile interaction at the point of need. Requires iPhone 6 or 6 Plus, or the Apple Watch
Extensions - No screen snaps – ability for one app to extend the functionality of another. So I can take a photo, tweak it in a third-party photo editor, and share it on Pinterest, I can do all that from within Apple’s Camera app, without ever having to go back to the home screen to launch another app or use the app switcher to manually bounce around between apps. This enables all sorts of powerful, much more seamless experiences, and Apple is actively encouraging developers to create those sorts of seamless experiences that break down old silos of functionality on your iPhone.
So some really cool stuff we saw this year!
But the most important change in 2014 wasn’t gadgets or platforms. It was a hugely important milestone in user behaviors.
In 2014, we really became a mobile-mostly world.
More connected mobile devices than people in the world.
More than half of all our total time spent online is spent in mobile apps.
Think about that. As of 2014, Americans spend more of their online time in the smartphone and tablet apps than all their online time on their PCs. This makes 2014 a hugely important watershed year: the tipping point to mobile-mostly.
Now, notice that we’re talking about native mobile apps.
People spend the overwhelming majority of their mobile time in native apps, not mobile web browsers – 80% or more in 2014, according to Flurry, Gartner, and others. That percentage is rising every year.
In fact, when we look at comScore’s numbers, almost ALL of the growth in total time spent online in 2014 was in mobile apps.
So the mobile-mostly world is, for the most part, a mobile APP world.
We’ll get back to that point a bit later.
Since we’re in the midst of the biggest shopping season of the year, let’s use shopping as a case study for how the world has gone mobile-mostly in 2014.
We’ll focus on the weekend that kicks it off after Thanksgiving
90% of us used mobile devices for at least some of our shopping. 50% of all online shopping traffic was on mobile – there’s the mobile-mostly world! At some big retailers like Target, mobile is more like 2/3 of all online shopping traffic.
In 2009 – just a few years ago! - mobile was just 5% of Black Friday online shopping traffic and almost none of the actual sales.
But look at this next bullet point.
But this is curious. Half of all online SHOPPING is on mobile. But nearly 3/4 of all BUYING is on a laptop or desktop! When they do click the “BUY” button, they spend $20 LESS per online order placed on a mobile device vs when they buy online using a PC.
So SHOPPING is mobile-mostly as of 2014, but BUYING is still predominantly a desktop and laptop activity.
Some other interesting numbers: Though Android has long passed iOS in market share of devices sold, iOS users still account for the most of the mobile shopping traffic, and the vast majority of mobile sales. iOS users also spend more per sale than Android users.
Why am I harping on this? Because one thing did NOT change in 2014, and it’s something that marketers, IT buyers, strategists, and pundits often forget:
People use different devices differently!
This may seem blindingly obvious, but it’s so often overlooked.
By device class: smartphones vs tablets vs PCs By platform: iOS vs Android
Something to keep in mind as we go on.
Going back to shopping… 77% showroom. This is obviously mobile-only, because of the physical context. But again, if we do find a better price online using our phone, most of us go back to our laptop or desktop PC to actually place the online order. A great illustration of the fact that in a mobile-mostly world, mobile and PC are not either-or; they’re also-and. We’re using multiple devices to complete a single activity or reach a single goal. Not just shopping; according to studies by Mobify and Google, 90% of us move between multiple devices to accomplish a goal. But our expectations and behaviors tend to be notably different on different devices, on mobile vs. PC.
How is mobile different? Numerous studies in the past couple of years have quantified those differences. Mobile interactions tend to be: bursty: a Google survey on multi-screen use found that mobile interactions are more frequent, 56% shorter, and come in bursts of activity. spontaneous: searches on a mobile device are much more spur-of-the-moment (80% vs 52% on laptop/PC) simultaneous: much more likely to be used as 2nd screen in simultaneous multi-screening actionable: A Nielsen/Google joint study found that 28% of of searches on a mobile device lead to a visit, call, or purchase, and more than half of those within 1 hour. Mobile users are disproportionately looking for information they'll act on quickly. different based on type of device on 'found time': the Google survey respondents talked about moments that were previously lost to them, where they couldn’t be informed or connected or entertained or productive but now could be – what I call interstitial moments
These don’t characterize EVERY mobile interaction, of course, but they do measurably describe most mobile interactions.
So within the flow of a user’s day, as they move from device to device to accomplish their goals, these are the characteristics of the times they spend on their mobile devices.
Luke Wroblewski, currently VP of Product at Google, famously summed this up as “one eyeball, one thumb”
Reiterating this characterization, Forrester just published a new book on mobile that says: users expect mobile to be efficient, contextual, personal: glance-able, actionable information at the point of need.
We’ve been noticing and measuring these behaviors for some time as they sort of bubble up organically from how we’ve all been teaching ourselves to use these newfangled handheld devices.
Forrester’s new book says that as we head into 2015, it’s more than just observed, emergent behaviors. It’s now become a feedback loop of expectation and behavior and evolving technology.
As Forrester puts it, “Mobile has reprogrammed your customers’ brains. They now turn to their smartphones for everything.”
What Forrester and other analysts are seeing is that in the past year or two, the user mindset has changed from asking “CAN I get what I need on my mobile device?” –this implies an expectation and willingness to seek out content and functionality, which has often been adapted from desktops – the user mindset has shifted to a new mentality of “My mobile device SHOULD OFFER me what I want, when I need it”
So we’ve spent some time reviewing important technologies and shifts in behaviors and expectations in 2014. How can we know what to expect n 2015? I think it’s a pretty straight extrapolation. We look at the evolution of user behaviors. We look at where the big industry players have doubled down. Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon. At the hardware and platform and services levels All responding to that turn of the corner, that watershed moment in 2014 when we became a mobile-mostly world. All betting big on that world where people move fluidly between devices, but mobile is dominant, and mobile is different, and the moments we spend with mobile tend to be quick, glanceable, actionable, and contextual.
This is what many analysts have started calling the mobile micro-moment.
What are some concrete examples of mobile micro moments?
These are very simple, built-in examples. The more powerful ones are really the ones that third-party developers are creating. We see that even these simple examples are: Personal Useful at the point of need Highly distilled – down to the minimal useful information and interaction Digestible in a glance Actionable in a few seconds with minimal taps. One eyeball, one thumb.
Returning to this definition – notice that key word, APPS.
Mobile micro-moments are largely NATIVE APP moments, because all those cool features that are being baked into the platforms and devices are only available to native apps. Interactive notifications Inter-device continuity Mobile health Mobile payments Integration with wearables Integration with everything the device already knows about you – calendar, address book, location, level of activity, noise level, what you’re saying!
Performance: We live in a world when the average web page is 1.8MB per page and set to cross 2MB per page soon. 2MB per web page! Mobile penalty: According to Akamai, average mobile page load time is 60% slower than the same page on desktop – 9 seconds or more But study after study shows that people get dissatisfied, abandon their goals if made to wait more than 5 seconds Amazon: every 100ms delay drives conversion down 1% If mobile micro-moments last just seconds themselves, who’s going to wait 9 seconds for that moment to begin? So just as the web world is going gaga for RWD and the one-size-fits-all approach, plus design trends like parallax, HD images, video backgrounds
So, heading into 2015, if your approach to the mobile-mostly world is just web, your users are probably going to leave you behind. I’ve been saying this for years, and the data from Flurry and others backs that up –
But it’s even more true now. Why? Because as Forrester says, it’s become an active feedback loop. It’s not just users’ emergent behaviors and expectations. With the big players doubling down on these types of interactions, in their platforms and their own apps and with their developers, they’re actively encouraging these types of micro-moment interactions.
Now the idea of the mobile micro-moment is contrary to the big trend in web design in the previous few years: RWD: the same content, organized the same way, with the same navigation and structure, regardless of the device – just formatted to fit the device at the point of display.
It’s a tremendously useful set of web techniques, backed by some of the smartest people in our industry. But it’s never been enough in and of itself, and as we head into 2015, if RWD is your whole approach to mobile, it’s going to be more and more of a disadvantage to you and your users.
When I talk about RWD and different approaches to mobile engagement, I like to use food as a metaphor.
Now this is NOT MONOLITHIC, NOT DETERMINISTIC.
By no means am I saying that EVERY mobile interaction is a hyper-condensed energy shot. Users are also watching more long-format video on their phones – minutes, even hours of steady usage at a single task. Somewhere, sometime, there will be users who do want the full meal that they’ve heard you offer. RWD and other web-centric techniques will continue to have their important place at the table.
There’s a need for all of these!
But what users are increasingly expecting, and what the big platform players are all actively encouraging, is the growing importance of the mobile micro-moment.
So…getting back to the big picture, I’ll read a few more tea leaves for 2015. Here are some more mobile trends to watch for in 2015, based on foundations laid in 2014.
Health tracking to reach critical mass Hardware support there for the past 2 years (for wearable integration) Market demand: 25% of adults already track health/activity on their phones, often via a connected device – solidly in the early-majority phase Another 15% plan to start doing so. OS/platform support solidified this year, and both Apple and Google are encouraging their users and developers in this area. Straightforward to say we’ll see mass adoption by the end of 2015. By “mass adoption” I mean that by this time next year, 40+% of smartphone users will track at least some health or fitness data on their smartphones, via OS services, apps, and/or connected wearables.
Mobile payments: Critical mass 2 years away. Off to a good start as of late 2014, driven by Apple Pay. Critical mass is ~2 years away due to adoption/upgrade cycle of hardware that supports it. High likelihood; 70% of users are dissatisfied with the convenience and security of their credit cards.
Smart wearables: Juniper says from 27 million units in 2014 to 116 million in 2017. Current generation is, and first Apple Watch will be, early-adopter devices. I think it’s definitely going to happen. One thing I’ve been realizing about wearables: they counterbalance a usability problem with the big-phone trend, which Apple gave into with the 6 and 6 Plus. Big phones can be really inconvenient sometimes. I realized what an issue this is by watching my wife, who upgraded to an iPhone this year and now never seems to have her phone with her around the house because womens’ pants don’t have pockets that will fit it. A female co-worker actually went with a 6 Plus for the same reason - she said that as long as she’s going have to have a phone that’s big enough to need its own carrying case, why not get the biggest phone? If you can’t physically have your phone accessible at all times because it’s in your purse or in the next room, a wearable that brings the most time-sensitive stuff from your phone to your wrist can answer a real daily need. Another factor is that there are social contexts where it’s just rude or disruptive to pull your big phone out of your pocket or purse to check on something, in a way that a quick glance at your wrist isn’t.
Contextual and predictive interactions: Google Now, Siri/Spotlight, Cortana: all trying to guess what you’ll want based on what it knows about who you are, where you are, what you’re up to. Offering it up super-streamlined at the point of need rather than waiting for you to go digging for it. This is the apotheosis of mobile in 2015: micro-moments offered up personally to you.
These are all technologies introduced in 2014, but which will really start to drive mobile user interactions in 2015.
What does this mean for people like us, who work to reach out and engage with our audiences?
First, remember that we’re reaching our users on a broad range of devices throughout the day As of now, more often than not, it’s on a mobile device Across many different types of activities, 90% of us touch a mobile device as part of completing any online activity So all roads lead THROUGH mobile. Mobile may not be the end of a given activity, but it’s an essential part of it. Think about showrooming and comparison shopping on mobile, en route to clicking “Buy” on your laptop. Design with the mobile micro-moment in mind. Not everything can be condensed into an energy shot, and not everything should. But are there ways in which your apps can offer momentary interactions that meet your users’ needs at the point of need, iin a way that’s quick, contextual, and designed for one thumb and one eyeball?
For your content, for your audience, does one size fit all?
Most of what we’ve talked about – the big bets that Apple and Google (and Microsoft, too) have made in 2014 and the trajectory analysts see for 2015 – these are all the domain of native apps. Mobile-friendly web will continue to be an essential part of your mobile strategy – social sharing, low friction. But with few exceptions, web cannot be the ONLY way you engage with your audiences on mobile. For the majority of us, native apps MUST be a part of how we engage with your audience.
Users don’t want mobile silos. Apple and Google are going to great lengths to make sure you don’t have to bounce between multiple apps to accomplish your goals. What can you be doing in the mobile experiences you offer your constituents to foster the same sorts of seamless mobile experiences?
Marketing automation tools like Marketo are all historically strongest on the web. In the past year or so, the Marketo ecosystem has gotten richer in terms of tools and techniques for capturing, tracking, and scoring user behaviors within the native apps where the users are spending their time. My company, Modo Labs, was one of the first to offer real integration with Marketo in its native-app products.
When I say non-technical people, I mean it – a huge insurance company is creating micro-sites for their clients using Modo Labs’ mobile publishing tools, and it’s all being done by totally non-technical people in the marketing group – not a single developer involved.
The world has gone mobile-mostly, and multi-device The big players have all bet huge on mobile micro-moments: personal, contextual, highly mobile-specific and mobile-optimized information and functionality at the point of need In 2015, based on trends in user behaviors and where the big players are pushing users, those micro-moments will increasingly dominate how people use mobile and what they expect from it To meet those needs and expectations, you cannot be relying on a web-only, one-size-fits-all approach to your online audience All this is hard, but next-gen mobile platforms like Kurogo make it all possible and even easy, even for non-technical people