Mobile is now the primary way we search, use social media, manage our money, stay informed, and entertain ourselves. You can still find a few activities where mobile is not primary, but it’s shrinking ground.
The smartphone has become a remote control for the world. We won’t even vacation without one. But mobile not about a device, it is a context where we have the entire power of the internet available to us at all times. It’s smartphones, tablets, wearables, drones, and connected devices.
Consumers and employees are already mobile-first. Mobile is affecting every industry. The required adaptations are often counter-intuitive. We are in the biggest transformation since the internet. Change is happening so fast that it’s hard to make sense of it all.
The goal of this newsletter is to help professionals understand the impact of mobile on their organizations, and how they can adapt to the new mobile-first world. I need to learn fast too, so your feedback and questions are always welcome.
This first issue I dedicate with great respect to Benedict Evans. He is is one of the best strategic thinkers about mobile in the world. I highly recommend his 16 mobile theses for anyone looking for a level-set and his newsletter for anyone looking to stay on top of tech overall. I hope someday to have contributed half of what he has to our understanding.
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In the news
Becoming mobile-first is probably good for your market cap, it certainly doesn’t seem to hurt. 5 of the top 10 biggest companies in the world are at different stages of becoming mobile-first (Facebook, Apple, Google, Amazon, and Microsoft).
If you want to understand mobile, there is no replacement for immersion, even if you’re one of the top technologists in the world. Every organization should have their executives to try acting as mobile customers to understand the gaps they need to address. Google’s SVP of Search has been living mobile-first for over a year.
If you have an app, continuous improvements are the only way to keep customers. Just because you had someone yesterday doesn’t mean you don’t need to innovate to keep them today. 1/2 of smartphone-dominant users replace apps with better ones every week.
Having an app isn’t enough. Regulatory protectionism isn’t enough. Consumers and talent will both go to where they can find a mobile-first experience. San Francisco’s biggest cab company is heading for bankruptcy.
Get ready to make your mobile-ready sites richer, your apps denser and for your mobile-ready videos to be more important in the marketing mix. Phablets had twice the share of Christmas holiday activations that they did last year. If you’re in the news, sports or media industries you need to prioritize them even more, as sessions on phablets grew at 4-5x the average.
Investment in mobile experience can mean accepting that a lot of individual investments won’t make sense over time, but the mobile-readiness you develop overall is still worthwhile. Disney isn’t taking their magic wristbands to China because they can just get consumers there to use their phones.
Your inbound sales and customer support should be looking at becoming mobile-first through messaging/live chat with customers. You can reach more customers on messaging apps than you can on social networks. Travel agencies are the next target, which is smart because digital travel bookings are projected to become mobile-first by the end of this year.
Just because you’re in an industry that you think mobile doesn’t affect, it doesn’t mean you can’t lose talent to mobile-first employers. The appeal of Uber driving for cooks is making it hard to find a good curry in London.
Even virtual reality is mobile-first. Google Cardboard, which uses your mobile phone as a display, has shipped over 1M units. That makes it the #1 virtual reality device right now. And if you think cardboard means it’s not to be taken seriously, it’s already used by surgeons to save lives.
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