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Mobile in the Future | Luke Wroblewski

Apr 3, 2018 | An Event Apart 2018

April 3 @ 2:15pm
An Event Apart Seattle 2018
Jeremy started us off this morning by starting with the future, but he was talking about flying cars and other fancy things.
He’s here to talk about the future but he’s primarily talking about what’s going on with computers.
There have been 3 main ‘Eras’ with computing:
  1. “Mainframe Era” – computers take up rooms and you don’t have one.
  2. “PC Era” – computers fit on desks and more and more people have one
  3. “Mobile Era” – everybody’s got one, and they’re with them all the time and are always connected.
This Mobile era of computer kicked off 10 years ago when the original iPhone was released in June on 2007.
“What we wanna do is make a leapfrog product that is way smarter than any mobile device has ever been…” – Steve Jobs. He references this leapfrog affect where he wants the iPhone to ‘jump over’ where they were then and move to the next era.
The first ‘smartphones’ were things like Blackberry and Palm brand phones.
In 2007 there were roughly 70 million personal computers (desktops) shipped per year. In 2016 / 2017 the number of desktop personal computers being sold kind of plateaued and it really doesn’t look like much has changed in 10 years.
But then if you add in the ‘mobile line’ (smartphone and tablets), it’s skyrocketed and ‘plateaued’ around 1.7 billion devices. Pretty good place to plateau.
Skype took 630 days to 40M users.
Supermario Run which was only available on the iPhone app store took 4 days to get to 40M downloads.
So there are all these devices with all these audiences, but the audiences aren’t just for companies that are established. It’s not uncommon for something new that has emerged to hit millions of people quickly.
Clearly, building audiences is a totally different ballgame than it was before based on the computing era we’re now in.
Ok but is anybody making any money?
Let’s go back 10 years and analyze annual mobile payment volume for PayPal. In 2006 they did less than $1 million. Last year, it was $155 billion in 2017. More devices, more people, more money, right? And it’s also interesting to compare where we here in teh United States relative to the rest of the world. In United States the biggest shopping day of the year is CYYYBERRR MONDAAAAAAYYYY.
Cyber Monday
10 years ago did $610 million in online sales in one day
Last year it was $6.95 billion in one day for Cyber Monday
China: Their largest online shopping day is Single’s Day. They do $25 billion in online sales that day. 33% of sales in the US on Cyber Monday happened on a mobile device, but for Single’s Day in China its 90%!
We are hitting a point where all the addressable people start to become connected. And if you draw a line about 10 years ago to cut off the previous 20, you see a lot of change in a small amount of time. Seeing this change happen over the past 10 years or less, and making products that work on the backbone of the internet, and bring people data and services and connect them…. he’s very interested in ‘what have we learned?’
It looks like things have changed pretty dramatically, but HAVE WE?
Have we kept pace with this change?
To go back to the introduction of the iPhone – he likes looking at the iPhone because there’s a certain level of stability there. The original iPhone camera had 2 features: 1) take a picture, 2) look at your pictures.
But then came iOS 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7… and the introduction of flat design. And then of course iOS 8, 9, 10, and today we are at iOS11 where you can:
  • Take a picture
  • view it
  • take a square photo, a panoramic photo, a live photo, a portrait photo, a video, etc etc etc. 
Some people look at this like a case of ‘feature creep.’ It sure got complicated!
Other people look at this and say this was a great example of giving people a minimal viable product, and then you improve it.
If you go to a flat design you might not get the same impact you were hoping for… Lol.
Let’s look at messaging. In the first version of the iPhone, you could message some people, but you could text message them. There were NO EMOJIs. You could only send TEXT.
Now, not only could you send text, you can send images, you can record a video live, you can search for GIFs and embed them, you can use it as a walkie talkie, you can freaking record your heart beat and draw on top of it….
And back to the camera, you could share photos but you had to EMAIL them. What a terrible cruel world. Now, you can send images a ton of ways, you can customize those options, tweak them…
When you look at these 10 years of additions across all aspects of this operating system, what is the cumulative effect? Are we empowering people or terrifying people?
If you work on apps or websites, you do 1 or 2 things: add stuff or redesign stuff.
So let’s look at redesigning:
10 years of the evolution of the iPhone calculator app… have we come full circle? Does this ‘add up’ to a set up well rounded designs? Are we just going round and round? “I’m a dad, I could do this all day” lol
Let’s look at something else. Let’s look at the Twitter iOS app:
With Facebook Mobile, there are at least 72 versions of the mobile navigation live right now!
Looking at 10 years of eBay app design, he asks:
  • How many hours of meetings went into 10 years of this?!!!!?!
  • What is the weight of the emails if you printed them out of doing this?!!
  • How many cumulative lifetimes were spent working on this over 10 years?!”
I guarantee things got better. I’m sure the latest version of the eBay app is working better than the first one. I’m sure it’ better, iteration is great. But he has to ask, “are we just moving pixels around?”
Have we just spent 10 years and x number of human lifetimes moving pixels around on a screen?
As we build for mobile are we just taking the same processes for desktop design and moving them over to mobile design?
Where are all of these iterations taking us?
Yes, it’s good to learn and iterate and make things better.
Login screens are important for lots of reasons. When we moved to mobile is we took usernames and passwords and just plopped them onto the small screen the way they were on desktop. Even though the keyboard is tiny and it’s super easy to screw up your password which makes it very hard to get it right, your password still appears as dots. So that was iterated on and improved a bit but it’s still just desktop procedure smushed into a phone.
75% of people that forget their password don’t complete the password recovery process and then don’t checkout. Seeing their password as they type it in makes everything easier for them and increases business for the company.
75% used SHOW to unmask the password. 88% of people unmasked the password after typing their first character.
But all of this makes him wonder if we’re just doing our damndest to make desktop stuff not super bad on mobile?
Amazon now lets you sign in with your thumbprint if your phone has that ability.
We need some kind of vision to drive us – something that’s really far out that is our North Star. As we optimize for today, where can we be tomorrow?