Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Some thoughts on consumer mobile email

I've been giving some thought to consumer mobile email today. My view is that it's more about viewing and staying in touch than it is about responding/compiling email. Most people will wait until they're in front of a PC before they write anything lengthy.

Therefore the priority should be on getting the application onto as many devices as possible rather than looking to optimised email devices like the Blackberry. This is particularly true if we're focusing on the consumer market.

Essentials
  • Headlines/preview (i.e. you don't need to download the whole email if you don't want to - that could be expensive on a limited MB plan)
  • Back up on server (rather than storage solely on the device)
  • Access to contacts - so if you do need to communicate with people, you can
  • Backward device compatibility

Non-essentials

  • Push - useful but not essential for the average Joe.
  • Calendar
  • Qwerty keyboard
  • Reading attachments

So basically, web-based email is going to be enough for most people, in the same way that web-based is fine for PC-based email. Most people don't use Outlook or Lotus Notes at home. Why would they do so on the mobile? The experience is a bit better, so if it's easy to set up inboxes and so forth, why not? But most people will be happy with web-based. So what's required then? A good experience (i.e. mobile-optimised sites) and cheap flat-rate data bundles.

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