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The future of mobile apps: fragmentation

This is a cross-post of my answer to a question on Quora:

My answer:

In the near future– in terms of time spent per app category (time spent on games, social networking, news, etc.)– increased fragmentation of the app marketplace.  More non-game apps (particularly, social networking apps) are moving into the mobile space and claiming smartphone users’ time—something that mobile game developers traditionally dominated.

The growth of indirect competitors in the mobile app space should be taken seriously by mobile game developers.

As late as Q1 2011, the average smartphone user spent 25 minutes a day consuming games on their phones—far and above the largest category of time spent per user on mobile phones.   A year later, in Q1 2012, time spent in social networking apps had increased 60% year over year from 15 minutes per day to 24 minutes per day (time spent on gaming decreased 4% to 24 minutes per day).  For the first time, another app category is rivaling games.  This trajectory of time spent per user per category is expected to continue; it’s possible that time spent on games on mobile devices will begin to trend down as the smart phone app market matures and fragments– and users are forced to make trade-offs between the ever-growing list of apps vying for their limited time and attention.

Image(Breakdown of time spent on smartphones, courtesy Flurry Analytics)

How to develop product strategy

This is a cross-post of my answer to a question on Quora:

My answer:

When developing product strategy, I would start broadly to understand the landscape and ecosystem, and then dive down deeper with a series of questions.  If you start with this data, you’ll have lots of ammunition to start brainstorming and eliminating ideas in an informed way.

The best strategy I’ve seen has been informed in some way by the answers to the following questions:

  • What is our current market share?
  • User behavior- what technologies are users using to  consume our product, where is this trending?
  • Who are the players in the space- who are our indirect and direct competitors?
  • What is our direct competitors’ market share, and what is their growth year over year?
  • What is happening in the landscape – how big is the market, and how fast is it growing?
  • What is our market share, and how are we growing relative to the market?
  • What are our competitors doing, broadly, that’s coordinating with their growth?
  • Who are the new players to watch, and what are they doing that could give them an advantage?
  • What can we learn from our competitors?
  • What are broader industry trends— things that are possibly cutting into margins, increasing user acquisition costs—that could  affect us?  What are the implications, trends, opportunities and threats there?
  • What opportunities do we  need to double click on to think about?
  • What are some ideas – first based on our current capabilities and market opportunities- we know how to get into?  What are some ideas that we don’t know how to do—because we don’t have the resources to do it?  If the idea is compelling, what can we do to get those resources?
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