Her & The Potentiality of Mobile
I have been thinking about my year-end blog post for some time. Usually, I put together a summary of key mobile industry-themed posts from the year. But then I saw the movie Her, starring Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johansson, on Saturday. I realized that what has happened in 2013 pales in comparison to what’s in store for us in 2014 and beyond.
Her is relevant, prescient, interesting, layered and original. Beyond Spike Jonze’s exploration of human entanglement and his inexorable directorial search for connection is a massive exploration of our relationship with our mobile devices. And that’s what this blog post is about…
As we endeavor into 2014, we as marketers, as mobile measurers, as mobile thinkers and mobile users have the power to shape it. I live in Los Angeles, the setting for this film, and it’s wildly realistic. If I imagine a future based on present day L.A. – elongating time appropriately – we would be where Joaquin and Scarlett intertwine. Where our mobile devices and ourselves intertwine – where they and we simply become we. Our mobile devices are an extension of ourselves. They enable and are capable of so much more than we have built in 2013, more than even we have considered building in 2014, but after watching Her we can start to collectively fathom what’s possible:
- Enabling: Mobile can make every experience better. It augments and complements, adds color and depth and nuance to all digital experiences and maybe all experiences.
- Additive: My life is better because of my mobile device. No question about it. Isn’t yours? Sure, there are times when I wish I could be a little less connected but the value exchange of incredible access is to know when to meter it.
- Unique: Joaquin most definitely had a unique experience with his mobile device. That made me realize how incredibly great the chasm is between what consumers expect from mobile and what we’re actually delivering. We have a one-size-fits-all mentality in mobile. We built a mobile site and hope it serves all well. We do not deliver unique enough experiences for each mobile visitor to our sites and apps. What about purchasers? Researchers? Lookyloos? First-timers? Offline purchase preferrers? People who are engaging with your brand for the first time in mobile? We need to do better here in 2014 and beyond.
- Predictive: Shouldn’t your mobile device be able to predict what you should purchase for yourself or as a gift for others? In Her, we get that. Scarlett chooses, purchases and has shipped – all via mobile – the perfect gift on Joaquin’s behalf. He didn’t even have to think about it. After all, we already give our mobile devices permission to use our location and our Facebook and other public personas (LinkedIn, etc.). Add in permission to use our previous purchase history (easily accessible from our own credit card statements), and what’s available on our friends’ profile pages, we can have a curated set of what we should buy next for ourselves and predict what our friends want as gifts. If you manage analytics to enable cross-selling and upselling, this is it! Talk about the future of mobile shopping!
- Fun. Joaquin laughed more and more deeply when connected to his mobile device. Mobile should be fun. As mobile experience creators, we have a responsibility to deliver on the most personal of consumer devices. It is always with us and consumer expectation is continuously on the rise. We have given the mobile device permission to wake us up, interrupt us with push messages, show us the world around us, augment the reality around us, and so much more. Sure, in cases where mobile is an extension of a more serious experience like your finances or insurance or healthcare, it can be less fun and more utilitarian but still easy and additive and unique.
- Cloudy: In the movie, everything was in the cloud, literally and figuratively. Literally in that every scene except for three scenes (the beach, the surrogate, the lunch) took place in a high-rise building, on an elevated walkway or a raised commuter rail, and eventually on a rooftop. Figuratively because the characters never connected any of their devices to anything. The screens were wonderfully crafted art-piece monitors with touch-everything. My hope for mobile in 2014 is a world with no iTunes, with no dependence on ‘connecting’ to anything beyond a charging cable (and come to think of it, why do we need that either?!). Why do we need these things? To back stuff up? No. To manage our libraries? No. iTunes and its corollaries are a product of a client/server age. Please, mobile developers, let’s never do this again. Apple Inc., are you listening? We need to be thinking about mobile’s future in an elevated fashion.
- Not Wearable: We’re on a charge now for wearable technology. Watches, GoPro cameras on our heads, etc. I just don’t see it. I have thought for some time – and clearly Spike Jonze and I are on the same team on this one – that it’ll resolve to a singular smartphone-style ‘brain’ of computing power with an infinitely scalable screen externalized from the device. It won’t be unlike Joaquin’s Bluetooth-style singular earbud (offering incredible stereo sound in one ear; don’t ask me how, it hasn’t been invented yet) accompanying a small business card case-style form factor in size and weight. It certainly won’t be the ungainly things you see now. No phablets; they’re a phad. The display will be elegantly externalized from the device itself. Count the days because when that finally happens the word ‘mobile’ will no longer be relevant; we’ll be an experience everywhere culture. I look forward to that.
- The Mobile Moment: As in this movie, there will come a moment in the future when all that exists is the omnichannel experience, with little/no demarcation between mobile and desktop and tablet and contact center and store. Preceding that, in the reality of the present, the next and biggest fundamental step ahead for many ForeSee clients and friends is The Mobile Moment. Things change for companies when the majority of their usage and traffic shifts from desktop to mobile devices. For Facebook, it was two years ago. When is your Mobile Moment? Or has it happened already? Are you at 10% of your traffic from mobile? 20%? 30%? 50% or more? Wherever you are, when you don’t measure you simply don’t know what you’re missing. The mobile audience is different and difficult to conceive of their needs and wants when you don’t measure them.
What do you think? What am I missing here?
The New Yorker’s Christine Smallwood had a strong summation: “It’s a good twist: humans who have given all their attention to their devices find that they can’t hold their devices’ attention in return.” I saw this movie Her on the big screen and I am thankful for it. There are big ideas in the movie about the future state of and the potentiality of mobile. We have come to expect a lot of mobile. As we should.
As a measurer of mobile, I see the experience from the consumer’s perspective and they want more than what we’re giving them. Her sure takes it to the extreme but somewhere between there and present day here is something wonderful. If you want to read about how 2013 wrapped up, check out The ForeSee Experience Index (FXI): 2013 Editions. If you want to see how the mobile world unfolds in 2014 and beyond.
Looking forward to a great 2014! Happy New Year!