Technology and media researcher Mauro Cherubini has posted a compelling argument for why mobile applications fail, a list of nine reasons he and other likeminds came up with at the LIFT Conference currently underway in Geneva:

Applications should be self-contained. No need to access data remotely as traffic is often charged separately and people do not want to pay extra money; Lack of market model. E. g., Mobile blogging did not really address a real user need; Lack of advertisement; Lack of awareness / lack of certainty. For instance applications might show an inconsistence mechanism of use or either they did not offer appropriate feedback. People could feel uncertain that the application will accomplish their communication intentions; Lack of culture. Either there is not a culture around a new service or the service might offer something which exist in other forms in other contexts; Ergonomic barriers. Usability issues like extremely complicate installation procedures or interaction mechanisms; Pricing/cost model. The user might feel uncomfortable if s/he is not sure of how much s/he is going to pay for using the system or the service; Tradeoff between responding to needs and creating new needs. I actually think that we should design following the first principle but most of the time is the other way around and this lead developers to design for false needs; Lack of standards. One of the biggest barrier for mobile development is the lack of standards. Devices offer inconsistent features and APIs and multi-device programming is extremely costly, and buggy…

Perhaps Cherubini’s points can be boiled down to a mutual lack of understanding between application producers and their users. Consumers don’t know how to use mobile applications effectively, often because they’re uninformed; and creators of mobile apps don’t understand what their users really need, want and will be willing to adopt.

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