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The potential of mobile is in the numbers—do the math

Michael-Deady ‎03-14-2013 01:43 PM - edited ‎06-23-2015 03:10 PM

Mobile is all about numbers, period. That is why I want to show you these numbers today. Hold on, bust out your TI-81 calculator (or abacus if you prefer) because this post is all about the power that numbers hold.  Let’s begin today’s lesson with the number five. Five stars is a representation of perfection for a mobile application. Four (stars) represents the most common filter used when a consumer is selecting applications for their mobile device=people only want applications that are four stars or above.


 The number you or I should fear is the consumer tolerance for failure. This tolerance is best quantified by the number one. One is also the number of reviews that could differentiate your company or application from 500 million customers. 500 million is only half of the estimated number of mobile devices predicted to be sold globally by the end of this year.  Zero represents the amount of control that an IT organization has after an application has been released to the general public. But the number that shocked me the most was that only 48 percent of IT leaders listed mobile and mobile applications as their top priority for 2013. The last number is not even a whole number, but it is one you should pay attention to.  It is estimated that by the year 2016, 2/3 of the activity on the World Wide Web be generated from mobile devices.


May the odds be ever in your favor


There are two-to-one odds that if your company hasn’t positioned itself in the mobile market, it is at risk of losing market share in its industry. Here is a real-world example: I was in contact with a roofing contractor who is looking at using Google maps to help his clients estimate the square footage of their roofs. This proves that even a small roofing company can build apps to differentiate themselves from the competition.  I remember doing word problems for math in the first grade that exemplifies his thinking, “A company that invests in developing a mobile application as a platform for their business today has   potential market share growth of 50 percent over a competitor who is waiting for next year before investing in mobile technology. Who wins in the end, the company that invests or the company that delays?”


$10 billion is the estimated market for mobile apps this year and exponential growth is expected each year. There are currently four key players and their distinct operating systems which currently control the mobile OS market as well as consumer access to the applications. These same four companies have set up compliance restrictions that provide zero-tolerance for security breaches. Which for your company means zero days’ notice before your application could be pulled from the store shelves. How long before your application defect goes viral? 24 minutes.  It must be a lucky number because 24 is also the number of hours before your company finds itself on the front page of the Wall Street Journal for the same reason.


Two is the number of weeks for the average agile sprint for the testing of a mobile application. This application is more akin to break fix and unit testing than anything resembling system or integration testing. Zero is the typical number of certified mobile tester embedded within an agile team.


Do the numbers add up?


The number one represents how many mobile devices and operating system one person can test at a time. This makes manual testing almost obsolete when considering the number of different types of devices and platforms currently on the market.


Imagine a convenience store competing with the large grocery chain for your business. The convenience store has a mobile app which allows the consumer to order and pay for all their groceries on a mobile device and simply stop by the store on their way home to pick up their order. Or consider a small town car dealership 50 miles away, competing with mega car dealerships. The small guys use a composite mobile app which allows the customer to pick the color make and model from their mobile device and arrange for the dealership to pick up the customer at his/hers front door for a test drive.  Guess whose service the customer appreciates more?


Most companies currently involved in developing mobile apps have subcontracted development to outside consulting companies or vendors as turnkey solution. This process carries its own set of risk to a company’s brand; however the current trend to develop and support mobile apps internally has companies facing new challenges with absolutely no learning curve.  It also brings additional complications:


  • Global testing is complicated and difficult to manage
  • The overhead of manage mobile platform which range from cloud solutions to “don’t forget to bring your personal phone (I mean test platform) to work.”
  • Lean development environments requiring high-quality and rapid deployment models
  • The overwhelming number of providers, operating systems and platforms
  • Composite applications using third-party vendors
  • Mobile devices and apps performance impact to internal and external networks
  • Mobile applications going Native versus HTML 5
  • Etc………………..


The reality that is that fitting a mobile device to a legacy application and/or standard testing processes no longer applies. Words like automation, security, and performance will be used in the same sentences as lean development process and customer satisfaction. Other ideas to embrace during this transition are things like “continuous testing” and “brand responsibility”. Words like consistency, reliability, and speed to market will replace user acceptance testing and acceptable risk. Here’s an oxymoron for you “volume accountability” which should define your testing organization in the world of mobile testing.


The final number is the most important


I think the three dog night summed up mobile testing best, (too bad it was 50 years before it’s time) “one is the loneliest number”. While being number one may be lonely, it is better than being part of the herd and hanging with everybody else.


Typically in my blogs I like to devote half my blog to some type of solution or suggestions; however over the next year I plan to devote at least a third of my blogs to mobile development and testing. I wanted to begin the series with a solution-free commentary. I hope you enjoyed today’s math lesson. It is amazing how much power they hold.


This blog isn’t complete without your comments and I would appreciate your thoughts, ideas, and antidotes to the biggest thing to hit IT since Y2K. Feel free to reach out to me in the comments section below.





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About the Author


Michael Deady is a Pr. Consultant & Solution Architect for Teksystems, center on quality, aimed at client's satisfaction, and long-term success. Perceived by clients, peers, and supervisors as a leader with the proven ability to lead development and quality assurance teams through software-development life cycle phases, to ensure quality of new products. He specializes in software development, testing, and security. He also loves science fiction movies and anything to do with Texas.

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