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Stepping out of the parallel world: Going mobile-only for a week

Some 48 per cent of UK Internet users are mobile only. Not mobile first, but mobile only. This stat is way higher than I thought.

I spend the majority of my work life developing products for businesses such as BettingExpert, the social network for sports betting, and marketing them from my MacBook. It is on this computer I plan, spec, review, give feedback, test and market products. I only use my phone to test when I remember it every now and then. But more than 50 per cent of our users are using our products from a mobile device. The result: I increasingly risk living in a world parallel to a raising majority of our users. I see our products different than users do. Not good.

So I decided to change my behavior radically and only use one device for an entire week: my iPhone 6. No MacBook, no iPad. Nothing but my iPhone. Here is how it went.

Unexpected feedback

I gave feedback to several colleagues that turned out to be unexpected to them. Their opinion was based on desktop version while mine was based on mobile. This has been very eye-opening and backs the initial assumption that we risk living in a parallel world to a majority of our users. Definitely succeeded in emphasizing more with users.

Different work style

I spent more time reading and learning than I normally do. I spent less time writing specs and communicating over email. I am more reactive than usual. Probably because it’s easier to read and more time consuming to execute stuff on a phone. I also postponed some tasks that require a lot of writing till next week.

More face to face communication

As email is significantly more time consuming on iPhone, Ive written fewer emails and spent more time on face to face communication. This is probably the most positive behavioral change I noticed.

Return of paper notes

Started using paper notepad again. Mostly because its faster. But it made me express myself in more diverse forms than just text. More diagrams, graphs and drawings.

More focused meetings

It is often considered rude to use a phone during meetings. Less so to use a laptop. I think people assume phone use is procrastination while laptop use is work related. Even though actual usage might be identical. In order to not break conventions, I attended meetings with no devices, resulting in less task shifting and more focused.

Things I couldnt do

Upload images to Itunes connect;
Order a photo mug at Vista print;
Open files created in Google drive extensions;
Create a publication or restore previous drafts at Medium; and
Book meeting room in Google Calendar.

Concluding thoughts

Not surprisingly, my mobile only week has been quite different to normal weeks. There are still a lot of tasks that are crazy inefficient on the smartphone but it might as well be that the phone can never handle all tasks. Or as Ben Thomson and Clayton Christensen argue: the opposite is true, as iPhone is here to disrupt the PC. In this case there are still vast opportunities to increase work flow and efficiency.



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