In my post on mobile yesterday, I mentioned that the mobile internet is changing people’s conception of what a mobile can do.
Initially, a mobile phone was purely about communication. This is no longer the case. Broadly speaking, there are four main ways in which a mobile phone is now used:
To illustrate the multiple ways in which a mobile phone can now be used, I shall give personal examples of how I have been using my iPhone in the month or so I have had it.
Foursquare is Mashable’s tip for the tool that makes location-based services acceptable for the masses. It is not yet available in London, but offers a nice title for the below 4×4 (i.e. four squared) examination of my behaviour.
By the way, I am not going to do a Morgan Stanley and extrapolate one person’s experiences into the behaviour of an entire generation. This is anecdotal only.
- Phone – this has been relegated to the position of “just another app”. On the iPhone, it has equal prominence with Mail, Safari and iPod
- Mail – I have both my Essential and Gmail accounts set up, and reply to emails when away from my desk/home
- Tweetdeck – my preferred Twitter client, which is free and works extremely well as an app
- Facebook – A big driver of mobile internet use, according to this report
- BBCReader – this is an unofficial tool; the BBC should bring an official version to market as it is incredibly useful. I cache all of the top stories onto my phone memory, and then am able to browse the news while on the tube
- NYTimes – similar to the above, except that it is official and thus much smoother. They’ve started experimenting with disruptive interstitial ads, which I am willing to put up with in exchange for free access
- London Tube Deluxe – there are free versions available, but a handy tool to keep abreast of closures and delays, as well as planning journeys
- Flixster – it is US focused, but it does recognise my UK location and tells me my local cinemas and the showings. I can see the Rotten Tomatoes ratings, and review films I go on to see.
- Slugger – the game that has seen most usage. An addictive home-run derby game, which uses the iPhone motion detector as the aim for your swing
- iPod – ingeniously, this continues to work in the background while other apps are used. Apps themselves shut down when not in primary use, which means that if the Spotify app is approved, listeners will not be able to do anything else while using
- Tap Tap Revenge – a Guitar Hero esque game that provides free tracks to play along to, with the option of going on to buy them
- Simon The Sorcerer – I only downloaded this Monday and haven’t played it yet, but loved it when I was a kid. And at £1.19 it is far cheaper than any (legal) PC version
- Calendar – it automatically syncs with Outlook but not Gmail (annoyingly)
- Clock – I use my phone as an alarm clock. I’m not alone.
- Camera – I still carry around a digital camera for events, but the camera is good enough for basic daylight photos that can be quickly emailed
- Voice Memos – I haven’t had a great deal of need to use this yet. Aside from Twin Peaks impressions – “Diane, I am holding in my hand a small box of chocolate bunnies”.
In terms of weight of behaviour, I would estimate the majority of my behaviour is centred on information and entertainment. My phone is incredibly useful in particular situations (thanks to my dodgy sense of direction) but I derive the most consistent usage on my commute. Reading material (whether free newspapers, a book or the Economist), my “standalone” iPod and my Nintendo DS are all seeing far less usage as a result.
However, this is just one anecdote. Some may use it primarily as a communication tool (whether telephony or social media) and others as a utility (e.g. Nike+).
One of the greatest things about the App store is the customization it affords us. Rather than just changing the look of a phone, we can now alter the functionality.
Therefore, if we are to understand how mobile media is to be used (and potentially how it can be monetized), we first need to understand people’s motivations and interests. And since customization is near limitless, we need to try and do this at the individual level.