Mobile-First isn’t about Phones

Phones have emerged as the primary device on which we consume digital media, or the device on which the journey to consume digital media begins. Thus, companies have shifted their attention to the development of “mobile-first” strategies with the intent of crafting a product experience that leverages the primacy of mobile in the life of consumers.

It’s not necessary, I think, to insert graphs and statistics on smartphone usage and its ascendancy. That’s a given. Sure, phone sales have slowed below double digits for the first time. But, that’s not because a new device has unseated the emperor of consumer life. Rather, when nearly everyone in the West has one, continued and incessant double-digit growth becomes a challenge, especially when phones reach a degree of homogeneity in terms of speed, features, and design.

I’d like to posit that “mobile-first” doesn’t and shouldn’t refer to any particular device. Even “mobile” in the phrase is misleading. A large percentage of content consumption on phones doesn’t occur when a user is literally mobile; rather, much of our phone usage occurs while seated in front of the television or, more comfortably, relaxing on the porcelain throne.

My hypothesis is the following: it is we who are mobile. The user view on content is a frog perspective, hopping to and fro a increasing collection of screens. Tablet, Phone, Watch, TV, Laptop, Desktop. You are mobile! Sure we lug our devices and annoying cables around like gum stuck to the bottom of a shoe. But, the experience of consuming a company’s crafted experience moves and grooves seamlessly across all these device. Or, at least, they should.

So, let’s start talking about the users being mobile, and how we can better craft seamless and compelling experience across the many screens that demand our attention.