Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Reimagining Smartphone Experience – How ‘Surfaces’ Can Play A Key Role In Making The Phone Smarter

Smartphone already feels like an extension of our bodies; a typical smartphone user picks up the phone 70-80 times in a day.

50% of the times the consumers pick up their smartphones out of habit – they do so without any explicit intent.

Our report below unlocks the secrets of current smartphone usage habits and reimagines the interactions between humans and smartphones.

The Boston Consulting Group today released a report titled “Reimagining Smartphone Experience – how surfaces can play a key role in making the phone smarter”. The report provides interesting insights into how the smartphone is being used by today’s users – revealing the key activities with phones, frequency of those activities and some interesting nuances across demographics. 1 out of 2 times users pick up the phone they do so without knowing why they fired up their smartphone. BCG’s research reveals varying clarity of intent in three such unique journey types– Pre-Determined, Exploratory and Spontaneous. While ~50-55% times the consumer has no clarity of intent, ~45-50% of the times consumers are very clear on the task to be accomplished and 5-10% of the time consumers have partial clarity.

The findings in the report are based on actual clicks/swaps data of 1000+ users and in-depth consumer interviews conducted across India.

Below are the key findings of the report:

Over the last decade or so, use-cases enabled through smartphones have proliferated from just socializing to a spectrum of 9+ use-cases (streaming, shopping, searching, scoring/gaming, saving & payment, seeking (news), studying and storing/tracking)

Research indicates that across 3 journey types, there are multiple friction points in terms of inconvenience, irrelevant information (in form of ads / suggestions) and lack of discovery (are we building echo-chambers showing the user same information over and over again?) – even in case of a pre-determined journey where the consumer is clear about the app and intent they find toggling across apps / visiting multiple screens to check for key updates – as challenges worth solving for.

‘Surfaces’ the next frontier in human device interaction has an enormous potential to delight consumers – by providing a seamless, smart and serendipity-rich experience while showing the potential to address challenges pertaining to broken experience and much more.

Leading innovators for example Glance for Android ecosystem (circa 2019)and Apple for iOS ecosystem (circa 2022) are seeing increasing adoption for their ‘Surface’ offering – for instance Uber leveraging ’Activity kit framework’ in iOS 16 to offer users select functionalities (ride- tracking, cab/drive info/OTP) right onto the lock-screen providing convenience.

While ‘Surfaces’ do exist today in their most nascent form – they are poised to become the Al powered engine, driving interactions between users and apps, manifesting as a rich, dynamic screen right from the start of a user's phone journey. Some of the ecosystem stakeholders are building advanced use-cases already – and the results are evident with surface innovators clocking ~220+ million MAUs in India today – indicating strong engagement onto surfaces. Kanika Sanghi, Lead – Centre for Customer Insights India said that “In our research, we have seen ~50% of the times consumers do not have clarity on why they pick up the phone – they do it out of habit. Such occasions provide a great opportunity to guide consumers into relevant directions based on their interests by using Surface in a smart manner."

Nimisha Jain, Senior Partner and Managing Director said that “Smartphones are evolving – the recent spate of discussions in media and at industry events on themes like ‘AI on device’ or ‘app-less experience through Gen AI’ is a testament to that evolution. ‘Surfaces’ can serve as the conduit to deliver this new evolved experience that’s smart, seamless and often enables serendipity.” BCG’s report also includes a few crucial consumer journeys reimagined with the surfaces – for instance, live-scores and match-highlights visible onto the lock screen without going into the app.

The report also sheds light on proliferation of use-cases ranging from streaming to shopping which are enabled by smartphones today. Indian smartphone users love to stream video content (short-form / long-form) – as 50-55% of their time is spent on streaming apps, while socializing (texts/calls), shopping, searching (for information on travel, jobs, hobbies etc.) and gaming feature among the top 5 activities for consumers spend their smartphone-time on.

The key stakeholders of the smartphone ecosystem – the phone makers, the telecom players, the advertisers (brands), app developers, content publishers and gaming studios have a huge role to play in realizing the full potential of the ‘Surfaces’. The report outlines how each of the players can embrace the opportunity and deliver a great consumer experience through a few strategic imperatives. Two case - studies where in industry-leaders and innovators in the smartphone experience category have driven business results with ingenuous use of ‘Surfaces’ are also included in the report.

About The Boston Consulting Group

The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) is a global management consulting firm and the world’s leading advisor on business strategy. We partner with clients from the private, public, and not-for-profit sectors in all regions to identify their highest-value opportunities, address their most critical challenges, and transform their enterprises. Our customized approach combines deep insight into the dynamics of companies and markets with close collaboration at all levels of the client organization. This ensures that our clients achieve sustainable competitive advantage, build more capable organizations, and secure lasting results. Founded in 1963, BCG is a private company with more than 90 offices in 50 countries. For more information,  visit bcg.com.

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