The Design Journey: Creating a Mobile Test Prep Application in South Africa is an ICTworks post I wrote with Nicola du Toit. The post describes the development of a mobile-based test and exam revision tool for high school learners called X-kit Achieve! Mobile. Nicola was the UX Designer at Pearson and I was the project lead.
I’m at the O’Reilly’s Publishing Tools of Change (TOC) conference in New York. Twitter hashtag is #toccon. Everything I learn here I’ll be applying to the m4Lit (mobile phones for literacy) project that I head up in South Africa.
Day one is workshops day, and first up is Selling in Mobile Markets, presented by Rana Sobhany, author of Marketing iPhone Apps.
The big question: How can publishers stay relevant in a digital world?
Great content. Curation. Quality. Subscription?
What’s special about mobile content:
- Mobile phone is readily available
- Engagement on the user’s terms
- Short bursts of usage
Questions we need to ask ourselves:
- How do you make your content most appealing?
- How much is your content worth?
- Apps? Mobile Web?
- Small screen
- Short attention span
- So, very high demand for quality
- Development costs ($20K-$100K dev costs for an app on any platform)
- Gatekeepers (e.g. Apple for their App Store)
- Custom (e.g. you can publish a whole book, or chapter by chapter)
PLATFORMS for mobile apps …
- Coexists with Apple’s iTunes Music Store
- Divided by category
- >2bn downloads to date
- Approx 200,000 apps available
- Dev language is Objective-C (must be developed on a Mac)
- Android is an open source operating system for mobile
- Dev language is Java
- Android market:
- Payment is a recent addition to Android Market
- Self-service model for developers to publish their apps; no iTunes gatekeeper scenario
- No friction, but no quality control either
- Dev language is Java
- BlackBerry App World:
- Expensive apps (=>$2.99)
- Limited functionality
- Multiple handsets
- No centralised payment system (need to use PayPal)
- Market stronghold has dropped off
- Dev language is C, C++, webOS for newer Palm devices
- About 1m webOS devices out there, more women than men own one
Windows Mobile platform:
- Dev languages Visual C++, .NET, Java
- Windows Mobile 7 recently launched to much fanfare
- If wanting to reach business users, seriously consider Windows Mobile 7
- Very popular abroad; Nokia+Symbian relationship makes it more compelling for the global market
- Nokia is Symbian’s biggest customer
- Dev lang mostly in C++
- Traditionally it’s the most expensive to develop for
STRATEGY: Pitfalls of each platform …
In her opinion, there are 4 primary mobile development platform.
- Most attention from users and media, but very crowded space
- Apple is a gatekeeper and it’s very difficult to plan launches
- Hardware is expensive and there is a “application etiquette” to adhere to on App Store
- Open platform, pros and cons associated with this
- Not very high adoption rates
- Hardware fragmentation
- OEM relationships make it harder for developers
DISTRIBUTION of apps …
- Don’t dilute your app too much — choose the platform that your target audience is using
- Also, committing to one platform can give you leverage/support from them
- Pricing is key; $4.99 on App Store is the sweet spot
- Adhere to the pricing guidelines of the platform you choose
- Launch day: Speak to press 1-2 weeks before launch. Provide them with screenshots and value prop to users.
MEASURING success …
- 1:1 mapping of mobile phone to user (this very unusual (think of TV and radio) (My note: Maybe in the USA, but not in developing countries)
- Have someone on the team be responsible for analytics. Not necessarily the developer.