“The Client’s Not Ready for Mobile”

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Hi, Mr. Nsaf,

Thanks for the request for proposal/RFP for a mobile website. I’m not able to respond at this time, I hope the offer may be open later. If, as it seems, you as the client don’t have the minimally required, direct user experience to participate on the client end in the mobile development process, it would be a waste of your money to proceed.


A mobile development manual shows information you would be expected have minimal understanding of, in order to properly state the job specifications. It’s a simple boolean question, do you or don’t you already understand what these things mean? "Yes" or "No", but definitely not "maybe". If "Not", you shouldn’t be releasing an RFP for a mobile website.


Andy Griffith, “Lonesome Rhodes”,
A Face in the Crowd

By analogy, releasing an RFP for a mobile site without the necessary understanding would be like an advertising client in the early days of t.v., who had never seen television, wanting to give specifications for t.v. ad campaign. It would be essential that the client have first-hand t.v. viewing experience, to participate in the ad campaign development process from the client end. The client, as beginning and end of the process, would have to be able to judge the receptivity of the audience, the middle of the process, to any ad campaign, based on first-person experience. Such an unprepared client couldn’t effectively make the investment decisions necessary to conduct such a campaign.

understandingMediaMarshall McCluhan’s most valuable teaching, in his Understanding Media, was that the content of every new medium is the medium which preceded it, so t.v. contained radio. Mobile contains the internet, but it exceeds it in crucial ways that require direct experience to work in the medium.

I’ll give a simple example from the mobile world: It could be expected that you will be posting a phone number on your mobile website for world press phone contact; virtually all the press will be receiving your PR via mobile phone. You will need to understand how a mobile phone accesses mobile websites. Here’s my daily experience with that single instance of a mobile attribute which completely excludes computers: I’m in my car; without stopping, I push a microphone icon on my android Google app, I speak the words "Golden City Roseville" into the phone, it finds the Chinese restaurant I want, I push the “call” button—in mobile, unlike the limits of the internet, phone numbers have blue underlining, to signify dynamic hyperlinks, in this case, activating the phone dialer—I give my order, I tell the business how far away I am, they say, “5 minutes”, I arrive & my order is ready. I looked at the screen 3 times, once when I pushed the microphone activator icon, second, when I pushed the “call” button in the search results, and last, when I stopped the call. I didn’t need any training to perform that action, the training was in the icons on the screen, a completely integral tech package. This is the daily experience for millions which you and your associate completely lack.

This is not your Old Dad’s internet. There are two mobile devices for every human being on the planet; a majority of them will never own a “computer”. They are more “connected” than any previous generation.workingSpeechRecognitionDemo
I could have had my 6 year old grandchild make the call, by just giving her instructions, though she’s never done it. If I weren’t using the device and had never done so or seen it done, there’s no way I could have envisioned how to do it, much less tell my grandchild.

BernieBearShe could figure out how to use it within a certain amount of time; she would have a window on a world I knew nothing about. It would take too long to for her to explain to me, if for instance I were blind, I would’ve ended up yelling at her while I should’ve been listening. So likewise, the communication limitations would preclude proceeding with mobile development of [Project Name] at this time.

Note to Self: These are gasoline figures - odometer [blue underlined], date, price, rate, amount. I spoke these figures into the phone. They were completely accurate, except that the 9 numeral at the end of the middle line was mistakenly interpreted as the word "night".

Note to Self: These are gasoline figures – odometer [blue underlined], date, price, rate, amount. I spoke these figures into the phone. They were completely accurate, except that the 9 numeral at the end of the middle line was mistakenly interpreted as the word “night”.

One reason it can be claimed this isn’t the internet, is that no desktops or laptops, at least none I’ve heard of, have a geo-location device, a voice activated search app, or the ability to respond to the mobile tag “tel:9167867797” that allows me to call in my order. You develop mobile on a desktop or laptop, but you immediately test your incremental development results on a mobile device or emulator.

It could be argued from one hand, that these added gadgets are just peripherals and that the mobile device is just a computer, so mobile is not a new medium, it’s really just the internet. By the same token, it could be argued that in the late 20’s and early 30’s, Philo T. Farnsworth’s iconoscope was just a peripheral to an FM radio—which was itself at the experimental stage of development at the time—however, David Sarnoff had suppressed commercial development of FM because it competed with NBC/RCA, so that’s all just academic.


“It Does Not Compute” when a traditional “Computer” attempts to consume a tel: tag.

The point is the difference between radio & t.v. in their social and consumer aspects, once product development was complete and they were distributed to millions of people.

This is not your Old Dad’s internet. The informational underpinnings of the French Revolution were that the population had a high rate of literacy, newspapers and books prompted them to speak the same dialect for the first time. The mobile revolution potentially unites everyone on the planet for the first time.

From my standpoint as a developer, I would be going out on a limb trying to take over some of the functions that the client has to exercise. It’s crucial that the client has mobile experience, to receive and vet my development results.

The solution would be for someone on the client end to get mobile experience—even a secretary, or just a child—then you could proceed with mobile development of [Project Name].