Tag Archives: platform selection

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.

Social Networks for Business Tip #4: Use the right tool for the Job

I have found ten common themes that apply irrespective of what your enterprise does, your market is or what technology platform you are using. The post below is my fourth of 10 tips; each with a particular theme. These are intended to be read in the order presented, as they will build upon each other…


If You Only Have a Hammer, Everything Looks Like a Nail

hammer-and-screw1One of the biggest mistakes I see when enterprises build communities to advance their business is automatically creating a mini-Facebooks based their brand. This type of community is great for internal networking (and even better for business to business networking). However, it more often-than-not far less-than-idea for business-to-consumer communities.

fbliWhy is this so? The reason is simple: people only have so much time in the day. They have enough trouble trying to keep up-to-date on Facebook (likely their personal networking community) and LinkedIn (likely their professional one). They do not have time to join half a dozen other networks where they are going to have to create profile, check messages and post content—especially if the network is not focused on something central to their everyday lives.

So what do you do when you want to build an effective community to advance your business-to-consumer interactions and realize that trying to create yet-another-mini-Facebook is no more successful than when companies tried to create mini-AOLs ten years ago? The obvious: get another tool from the toolbox

There is More Than One Tool to Use When Building Communities

In Steps 2 and 3, we defined the problem we are trying to address and what success looks like. Now that we have defined this, it is easy to pick the right tool for the job.

There are a lot more tools out there than simple mini-Facebooks. Below are three that I see and use (as end user and provider) everyday in business environments :

  1. Mobile social media communities to call consumers to action to attend events of visit stores (physical or online)
  2. Social-based contest communities to excite people to share information to win points, makeovers or simply build social recognition
  3. Crowdsourcing communities that elicit ideas and “bubble up” the most popular to the top

As these “tools” combine and present underlying social networking widgets (e.g., blogs, forums) together in ways that focus on solving specific problems, I usually call them Business Services or Business Solutions.

A Simple Imaginary Application of This

Would you join a social network to blog, chat and post about gas stations (someplace you visit every week)? Probably not. (I can’t image why I would do this or what I would talk about.) Would you visit a contest community where people could share (via mobile phone pics) which gas stations have the best price in your zip code? Yes! Would you post there, if you could win points on your gas card or a free car wash if you find the station with the lowest price? Very likely. Would you ask someone to build this for you if you could get a good combined ROI from the ad revenue and increase business (vs. petroleum companies who do not have this)? Even more likely.

Real-world Examples of Businesses Who Have Applied This Well

Here are four examples of companies who picked the right tool to address the problem they were trying to solve via a community:

ADIDAS’s Mobile Social Network

ADIDAS wanted to drive in-store sales during the NBA All-star Week (while people were walking around the venue). A full-feature social network community would have been a poor choice for this. Instead, they went with a mobile social network. Click here to see a video on this initiative and its results.

Dell’s IdeaStorm

Dell has embraced social networking in many forms to continue to advance their mission for online- and call center-based tailoring of computers for consumers. The single initiative that resonated the most was IdeaStorm, a crowdsourcing community that asked customers to give Dell ideas how to provide better products. This has been their most effective community to-date.

Sometimes a full-featured destination community IS the right tool:


GovLoop is a community for government leaders and vendors to collaborate around their shared interest in using social media to make government – something they work on every day – better.

American Express OPEN Forum

American Express’ OPEN Forum is a business-to-business community that lets small business do what they do every day – build networks with other to get what they need and sell what they have – better than they can do without an online community.