News was released yesterday that the iPhone 3G S sold over a million units over its first week of availability. That’s a hell of a number (especially on top of the 40 million+ iPhone and iPhone Touches Apple has sold to date.
That number does beg further questions as well. How many of those million units were sold to existing iPhone customers (i.e. upgrades)? How many were sold to existing AT & T customers? And how many were brand new users? Whatever the answers to those questions, the ability of Apple to generate at least $200 million in gross retail sales (based on the lowest 3G S price point of $199) is quite a feat in our current economic climate.
So what has captured people’s imagination to such a degree? In an earlier post, I speculated on how the lowering of the 3G price point to $99 could be the fuel for making Apple the dominant platform in mobile computing. I thought that the combination of functionality and economy would be irresistible to the consumer and the 3G would be every consumer’s new choice for a smart phone. Time will tell if that speculation is correct. But what has people so psyched about the 3G S? Is it the new video functionality? An improved camera? The compass?
My personal speculation is it’s the speed of the new model. The “S” might as well stand for sexy. Broadband penetration has become ubiquitous in the US and that speed of delivery has become every users expectation. That same user requirement may now be carrying over to the mobile platform and nothing delivers like the 3G S. With people relying more and more on applications like Yelp, UrbanSpoon and others to plan their social and personal lives, instant access to information is becoming a driver.
What does that mean for digital designers? A lot.
In fact it may actually evolve in to another whole category of design. The UX of the iPhone (and mobile in general) is radically different from going online via a PC. Site design needs to be optimized for a smaller screen and the bandwidth restrictions of the platform. Flash is obviously out (although if Apple continues to sell iPhones at this pace, Adobe needs to solve this restriction ASAP). But allowing a consumer to view your existing online offering via a mobile web browser may be leading them to frustrating navigation and bad user experience. Designers need to provide a new information architecture that allows users to quickly and easily access the information they need. And this new IA and UX may be radically different from current offerings.
Take a look at your current site on your own phone. Is it delivering an optimal experience for the user? Or is it time to start thinking about building something specifically for your mobile user’s needs?