Howard Rheingold was kind enough to refer Geoff Koch who was writing an article about mobile application development to talk to me about my thoughts on the subject. Not that I'm the expert, but I've thought about it enough to feel comfortable pontificating publicly. The Keys to Mobile Application Development Success:
There are at least two good examples at the other end of the design simplicity spectrum. "What do Google and SMS have in common?" asked mobile blogger Russell Beattie. "In terms of interactivity, users just have to contend with one field."
While living in Spain a few years ago, Beattie observed that texting is so easy, and so embedded culturally, that on New Year's Eve, it's now a ritual in Spain and across Europe to send a short SMS greeting to everyone in your address book.
"There are hundreds of millions of messages sent that night," said Beattie. "It's a massive cultural change."
Beattie advises developers to think carefully about adding buttons, fields or any ounce of complexity to their mobile applications. Given how the masses use mobile devices and cell phones, these additional efforts might be wasted.
Since I usually repeat in person everything I've written here in this weblog ad-nauseum, if you've read this weblog for any time, you know most of what I said to Geoff. :-)
But I have to say the last quote from me in the article isn't exactly right. The idea that Americans are already used to advanced messaging like IM and Email combined with the availability of *unlimited* data services here in the U.S. which is going to allow us to leapfrog the rest of the world. I actually don't like qwerty keypads on phones... they'll never reach ubiquity, which IMHO is the key to the success of mobile applications.