The Mobile Context is comprised of many elements that distinguishes it from the desktop context. Some of these elements are time, space, the mobile perimeter, the social and personal aspects, and other, and how these define and effect the mobile usage and/or behavior – I will cover more of this at another time.
But one attribute makes mobile very different from the desktop – the mobile context is mostly actionable. It is important to realize this, as it has a direct correlation to the types of relevant applications to be developed. For example, mobile searching is about finding information now! – movies, or directions, news, who is online, and so on, information that is needed now rather than later – this is in contrast to a search from the desktop for directions, where such information is to be used later; if you are looking for directions from your mobile you are probably lost or must tell someone now how to find a place. Voice and messaging, or communicating with friends and family, is also actionable and about “now”. Casual gaming is another example of a “now” application – as in killing some time “now” while waiting for the bus to arrive.
It was refreshing to read that Dipchand Nishar, Director of Wireless Products at Google gets these concepts… From a BBC article on Google targets mobile future, “Dipchand believes that when people are out and about, they want very different answers from Google than they would if they were sat in front of a PC.” And I will add that the reason the answers are different is because mobile answers are by nature actionable. Not only information must be found “right away” (in other words, returning 10 pages of results to a mobile handset is not desirable or of much help), but must be straight to the point and accurate. In the aforementioned BBC article I find of interest the reference to “Japanese do make very heavy use of e-mail on mobile devices”, which goes back to a previous piece I wrote titled Analysis and Opinions on the Future of Messaging.
The BBC article has a number of quotes by Dipchand that are of interest, and that I totally agree with:
- “There are many emerging markets where people do not have a PC and will never have one,”
- “A PC is much more of a shared device,”… “But a mobile is not something I share with anyone.”
- “On a mobile it's important that you find it right away.”
- “Search on mobiles is about finding not browsing.
- “The same search query, because of the context, means very different search results,”
The last quote above is very powerful, because Dipchand is talking about search queries that takes in consideration the mobile context – time, space/location, calendar, and so on. That is the future of mobile searching, and mobility in general – it is about the mobile context, usage patterns, and the mobile experience.