When we were at iPhone Dev Camp this summer the running joke was ‘the phone app is the new web site.’ Perhaps you recall the dot com days when you had to have a site, even if you weren’t quite sure what you were doing there. Well, the phone is the new web site. And it’s not just the iPhone & other smart phones driving this discussion. The combination of social apps, local interactions and mobile devices (what Fred Wilson calls the golden triangle of interesting web work right now), should have you thinking twice about what you’re doing for phones.
A lot of Blinksalers are photographers, for instance. So, you might take a look at what commercial photographer Chase Jarvis has done. He’s simultaneously pushed a new application (Best Camera), a book about photos taken with an iPhone, and a community site anchored in the photos people take with the app.
The key thing is that the set of projects is not about the technology, but about Jarvis wanting to change the way people think about making images.
“I’m trying to shift the perception that an image is about megapixels and dynamic range and all the things it’s not,” he says.
Or, consider how designer Mike Rohde has taken something he does all the time (makes sketches to visually capture conference presentations) and made it much more widely available via a mobile app. After making his visual notes of loads of conferences available via his site & flickr for a long time, Rohde teamed up with interactive conference SXSW and an iPhone dev shop to create Sketchnotes, a free app that showcased his visual notetaking from SXSW 09.
Not only do you see lots of Twitter chatter about the Sketchnotes app itself, but Rohde’s promotion has started to create an expectation that most conferences are going to have this kind of documentation, and advances the general goal he has of promoting visual thinking. It surely can’t hurt his design practice, as well.
Even if making or piggybacking on an app doesn’t make sense for you, think hard about how you can use existing mobile apps to connect to your best customers. Lots of local retailers have jumped onto Twitter, for instance. Hype aside, it’s a super simple way for them to communicate (for almost free) to people who want periodic updates delivered in the way they want them delivered. Don’t get caught up in the numbers game, either. While we hear a lot about accounts that have massive numbers of followers, maybe you just want to be able to give real-time updates to 5, 10, or a 150 of your peeps. Gourmet ice cream shop Humphry Slocombe, for instance, does a simple homemade flyer at their store inviting people to follow along for updates on daily flavors offered.
So, get cracking. People are walking around with these supercharged phones now. People who want to hear from you & know what you can do for them. How are you making your expertise available in bite-sized, real-time chunks? Might be something there.