Mobile adoption is still growing. A good example is Facebook with 1 Billion+ users and around 56% of its user-base being mobile-only users as of July 2016 (see source). Mobile adoption has matured — apps are not dying. Instead when you have the “late majority” / “laggards” part of the adoption curve adopting mobile as never before, it points to the technology being mature. It has taken close to 20 years for this disruptive technology to mature with exponential growth over this period of time.

Disruptive Tech Adoption (Source: Wikipedia)

(Image source: Disruptive Tech Adoption, Wikipedia)

Today we are in what I like to call the 4th generation of mobile:

  1. The first generation was Operator/Carrier-controlled with closed distribution, where apps were “On Deck”, and to get on deck was very costly and time-consuming. These apps were typically productivity and utility apps, with some games, mostly “local apps”. (1999+)
  2. The second generation was driven by the Ecosystem (and away from operator-control), with open distribution and app/content discovery via app stores and a new revenue model that encouraged formidable growth. Apps were connected and content was king. In this generation, apps started to be touch-based and much smarter and richer. Also, this is when the mobile lifestyle began to take center stage. All this was thanks to Apple and Google. (2007+)
  3. The third generation is when apps become more user-centric, where context is king (with related back-end intelligence), and apps became easier and cheaper to create and deliver, thanks to the combination of Mobile plus Cloud technologies. (~2012+)
  4. Today, the fourth generation is similar to its predecessor, but the trend is on how content is broken down, and how content is discovered and consumed. This directly affects revenue. In this generation, content and functions and apps are discovered (1) via social networks (today Facebook is king), (2) via intelligent agents and robots that parses the Web and collects content from the Web and the Deep Web (for example Facebook news feed, Google News, Vocativ, etc) and then brings such recently discovered and classified content to readers, and (3) Search — all these methods moves discovery away from the centralized “website or app or app store” and to external discovery methods that then points to your content and functions at your servers, website or app. Even newer to the block are (4) “conversational experiences via intelligent software/bots”. To be successful in this generation, the UI must be hybrid even more than ever before, and content must be very easy to find by these intelligent software agents or robots, and content and formats must be very good –this includes messaging, notifications, video and new formats such as “conversational formats” (think Amazon Echo). To have the upper hand, meaning, to have better and smoother integration and offer better user experiences, deals ($) may have to be struck. (~2015+)

Key to the fourth generation is how information is architected. In this new generation, information (and features/functionality!) should be organized as “individual but related pieces”, perhaps as MicroServices or MicroContent, that are fine-grained and very specific, that lives on the “cloud”, that can be discovered and consumed or presented individually and in different ways — text, video, voice/audible, Chatterbots, via Mobile device/app, Web, on the desktop, Amazon Echo and so on, with user interfaces that adapt and perhaps are hybrid depending on the user context, with conversational user experiences starting to become most important (and real) type of interactions.


Related: See Three Generations of Mobile Apps (Aug 2014)