User Experience: Is it Getting Better or Getting Worse?

At yesterday’s (informa media & telecoms) Off-Deck Mobile Content 2008 conference panel “Distribution in the off-deck world (the wild, wild west!) – where are all of the traffic and users coming from?” one of the panelists asked if the use of “Wild, Wild West” should be changed to “Ghost Town.” (See my blog posts from this event “Off-Deck Content Distribution – Wild, Wild West,” “Numerous Off-Deck Market Challenges, But Billing is a Big One,” and “Off-Deck Conference Highlights Pain Points for Ecosystem.”) The panelist was Soren Schafft, SVP of North America, Fox Mobile Entertainment/Jamster. He was referring to the limited audience (and indirectly the theme of the event – Off-Deck Mobile Content – where currently the money is hard to come by). His point was that unlike the early days of the Internet when bandwidth and security hurdles were overcome, which led to the subsequent boom in ecommerce, the mobile marketplace is not getting it right. Yes, the devices and networks are getting there, but there is continued fragmentation (OS) and the business models aren’t working (the exception being Apple). This was subsequently shot down by some of the other panelists.

After this session, I took pause and tried to think about my experience as a user. I hate taking the middle of the road here, but I sort of agree and sort of disagree with Soren. While I certainly think that Apple has set the standard around discovery and purchase of Apps, on the whole I don’t find it very easy to find what I want and purchase it on my cell phone. Search is only moderately better. And, the mobile content experiences varies by device and by carrier. There is nothing uniform in mobile, so I guess that it is all relative.