Tuesday, February 9, 2010

User Behavior Changes Mobile Device Design Priorities

Smartphones get used for work purposes, to be sure, but what really seems to make mobile Web and Internet access behavior different from PC behavior are the things people do on their mobiles. And the Apple iPhone, as much as anything else, points to where we are going.

It isn't so much that users increasingly listen to music, play games, use social networking sites and send instant messages on their mobiles. Users can do those things on their PCs as well.

They use the Web, catch up on news or watch videos on both mobile and fixed PC platforms. But there seems little doubt that, for most people, it is personal and entertainment apps that increasingly are important, not keeping up with work activities.

We used to describe this behavior as requiring smartphones that balance work and personal life. These days, the emphasis for device design seems deliberately skewed to personal usage modes. That isn't to discount continuing use of smartphones for work purposes. But it is to note that device design has moved well beyond "productivity."

In fact, design priorities seem almost to have flipped. Where it once was important to handle email and calendar well, it now seems important to handle Web, music and navigation applications well, while also supporting email and calendar functions.

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