Much has been written about the Microsoft-Nokia partnership and the dismal market performance of Windows Phone 7 (interesting reaction here). And though many pundits view Microsoft’s mobile platform as an inevitable failure, I honestly believe that it’s not too late for these companies to reinvent the “smart-gadgets” market rather than piggyback on it. Here’s why.
(This article was originally published at VentureBeat on November 14th 2011: http://venturebeat.com/2011/11/14/the-lean-startup/)
The Lean Startup concept, developed by Eric Reis roughly two years ago, has been embraced by the startup community. And though I think it’s the best and most consistent framework available for entrepreneurs to methodically evaluate their ventures, what happens when you get a product into the market that customers actually want and your business starts to grow? Does the “lean” focus end there?
There is a fundamental difference between web development and mobile app application development that many people don’t think about: when you develop for the web, although you own the intellectual property of that piece of the software, the page or service is available publicly. Therefore, it’s an asset of the web. When you develop an app for a smartphone, regardless of what it does, it is a product that will be owned by the person who decided to download it. So, even though you will keep the intellectual property of the app’s code, the app itself doesn’t belong to you anymore – it belongs to the user. The user will then decide to use it, to keep it, or to delete it. Once an app gets deleted, it’s hardly going to be downloaded again. Think about how many times you did it.
(a shorter version of this article has featured on both Dr. Dobbs and InformationWeek magazines: http://drdobbs.com/architecture-and-design/231902070)
Lean User Experience (Lean UX) is a discipline that will likely become a game changer in web and mobile development of digital experiences (apps, websites, gadgets, etc.) as it introduces changes in the design process that better align with agile methodologies for development.
I am openly standing on the shoulders of people who put forth a lot of effort to bring Lean UX to light, despite all the criticism and pushback from traditional UX professionals and digital agencies that might see Lean UX as too much of a change, or even a threat to their status quo. The Lean UX professional naturally works together with other designers and developers, as opposed to the traditional waterfall model where the UX professional is the “hero” in charge of finding all the solutions and getting the client’s approval before development starts.
I was at the Googleplex the day Steve Jobs passed and there are two things about Google I will never forget from that day. First is the fact that Google paid a lot of respect by linking its homepage to Apple’s. The second thing is what a Google VP of sales sarcastically said during his partner summit speech: “Apple says they launched yesterday a revolutionary voice recognition system, something that we introduced to the Android OS more than a year ago.” Well, I did not expect anyone to react at that moment, but I immediately felt that he was missing something.
After comparing my experience with both Apple’s Siri and Google’s voice actions, I am absolutely positive that he was, indeed, deadly wrong. Maybe the approaches are not so different in a feature-by-feature dry comparison. However, from the user experience perspective and potential implications for the future, they are far apart. Apple did launch something with a potential to be revolutionary.