The rush to make everything mobile has generated new ways to do business, new ways to organize ourselves and new ways to communicate, but mobile apps aren't your father's mainframe, desktop or laptop applications.
Nope, mobile apps exist in a world where not only is the underlying network transport anything from great to non-existent (which leads to all sorts of complexities), but also the polish and brio of leading mobile apps has created user expectations that, if I were to hazard a guess, are an order or two of magnitude greater than enterprises are used to delivering!
The issue of vastly greater mobile app user expectations is, I'd suggest, pretty much all Apple's fault. If only Steve Jobs hadn't been so obsessive about design values and perfect execution, all of the mobile app development shops would have a much easier time of it. But no, Apple DJ (During Jobs) produced the iPhone, the iPad and iOS, and along with those platforms the idea that apps should be slick, polished, responsive and beautiful became the norm.
If you doubt that users feel that way, consider a recent survey: The 2012 Mobile App Review by Apigee, a company that provides API-based services to support mobile apps. This survey (conducted online in October) of more than 500 U.S. mobile app users aged 18 and older, revealed some interesting stats.
First of all, 44% of those surveyed said that poor performance would make them delete an app immediately! Moreover, 18% of them admitted they would delete a mobile app if it froze for just 5 seconds. Just think of that. Five seconds at best, immediately at worst!
What's interesting about this low tolerance is the app could be trying to retrieve data from a slow remote server over a slow network, but if the app appears to be non-responsive, users will more-or-less immediately rate it to be a fail. Apps need to be built to deal with users whose patience has shrunk from minutes in the 1990s to seconds in the 'aughts, and now to milliseconds here in the 'teens.
The survey also found that freezes (76%), crashes (71%), and slow responsiveness (59%) were major deal-breakers, as was heavy battery use (55%).
The survey also found that how the app publisher responds will make a big difference in how users feel about a problematic app. Almost 90% said the No. 1 thing that will make them feel better about a failing app is if the publisher fixes the problem quickly with 46% wanting personal responses and 21% wanting a public apology (it's worth noting that failing to apologize appears to get 100% of Apple execs fired).
So, when you plan to release your next mobile app for your enterprise, whether it's developed in-house, bespoke developed, or a commercial product, think very carefully about how the app looks, feels, communicates, how it might fail, and how you'll handle problems if anything goes wrong. One hundred percent of users will "like" you for making the right decisions.
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