Tag Archives: BlackBerry

Decisions, Decisions… Android, iOS, Windows 8 or HTML5?

Article first published as Decisions, Decisions… Android, iOS, Windows 8 or HTML5? on Technorati.

The last month has introduced much new food for thought if you are trying to decide which mobile platform to build on first:

It has definitely been an eventful pre-Holiday Season in mobile.

Which Platform To Build On First?

With all these different metrics and shifts in leadership, which platform do you pick? The market share leader (Android)? The eCommerce leader (iOS)? The one most familiar to enterprise (Windows)? The one most open of all (HTML5)?

If you are Fortune-500 company with a big mobile budget the decision is easy: build on several. If you are smaller, you probably can only build one or two at most (or at least one to start on first). Which one do pick? The answer is actually simple—if you ask two key questions about your intended user base.

Question 1: What is the (Intended) Usage Pattern of Your Customers?

Notice that this question does not ask, “What is the Intended Usage Pattern for Your App?” Why? Because sometimes building an app is the wrong thing to do.

Apps are really fun to build. However, they require a lot from your customers. First they have to find the app. Then they have download and install it. Then remember to open up and use it. That’s a long chain of dependencies required for success.

If your customers use your product regularly—and this use is transactional or highly interactive in nature—then build an app. Open Table is a great example: I book dinner reservations several times a month, on the spur of the moment. It is much easier to do from an app, especially one that needs to interact with other Apps on my device (i.e., calendar, telephone, maps).

However, if your customers only use your services intermittently, don’t waste (their and your) time and effort with an App. Instead, use HTML5 to make your site work really well on mobile. The same is true if your customers only consume content from one source. There is no need to download an App to read a news site. As the Financial Times has shown, HTML5 is much better for this.

Question 2: If You ARE Building an App, What Are Your Customer Demographics?

If an App is the right thing for your customers, then you are really lucky: you get to pick from a great set of mobile platforms. The question now is which platform best suits your needs.

Whereas back end technologies are hidden from customers (allowing the freedom to pick based purely on technical considerations), mobile platforms are virtually “joined to the hips” of your customers. Picking a platform that your customers do not widely use will not provide the results you want—no matter how great the platform and app is.

To avoid this problem, pick the platform that best fits the demographics of your customer base. If you are building for gamers, build on Android (do the same if you are building for users in Emerging Markets). If you are building for doctors, build on Apple (do the same if you are building for high-end commerce). If you are building for internal enterprise IT use, Windows 8 or BlackBerry 10 may be your answer.

There are many ways to find out what platform you customers use most: industry analyst reports, Xyologic stats, or even your website’s Traffic by Operating System in Google Analytics. As long as you pay more attention to these metrics than the latest attention-grabbing mass mobile headlines, you will be using the right technology for your customers.

How Can BlackBerry Regain Leadership? Go Android

Article first published December 16th as How Can BlackBerry Regain Leadership? Go Android on Technorati.

Yes, it has been a really bad year for BlackBerry. Their security architecture was almost blocked by several national governments. They have lost significant market share. Their PlayBook has not sold well. Their earnings have dropped precipitously. And now, their new line of BlackBerry 10 (f/k/a “BBX”) smartphones have been delayed until the end of 2012 and their stock hit an eight-year low today.

Right now it would be really easy to pile Pelion on Ossa and bash BlackBerry. However, that would not be terribly productive. Instead, I’d rather offer some unsolicited—but potentially very useful—advice as to how to turn around their brand and market position: get rid of the BlackBerry OS move to Android—at least on a few new smartphones

This may sound like surrender. It is not. It would be one of those rare situations when a company applies creative destruction to itself to regain leadership. Here is how it could work:

  • BBandAndroid-200pxwBlackBerry’s OS and Enterprise Server Architecture—the very thing that let them create the smartphone market—is now exactly what is holding it back. It is more vulnerable to outage than newer mobile architectures. It has a smaller developer community and much fewer apps. It does not have the features Android and iOS have. It is no longer a competitive advantage for BlackBerry. It is time to move away from it. Luckily for BlackBerry, Android is open available for their use—without license fees
  • However something far less technical—the BlackBerry keyboard—remains a key unique selling proposition for them. Many people stay on their BlackBerry’s (or at least keep one for work) for one simple reason: BlackBerry’s (patented) keyboard remains the easiest, fastest keyboard to use for “power” email and text users. Imagine how compelling a smartphone would be with Android OS, Android Market and BlackBerry’s Keyboard.
  • Finally, BlackBerry has something else of enormous market value: established enterprise relationships with near every Fortune 500 company (and many, many SMEs). BlackBerry sales reps and re-seller partners could bring a new Android-powered BlackBerry to the enterprise, introducing this new product to a “captive” audience of enterprise-issued smartphone users faster than anyone else. Pleasing these users would later lead to a return to growth of BlackBerry’s consumer market share.

The interesting thing is that BlackBerry does not have to do this for 100% of their product line. They can try it on a few smartphones, in partnership with Google (I am sure Google would be happy to oblige). I am also betting this innovation would create a lot of buzz around their product lime and give $RIMM a much-needed price bump.