Converting Addiction into Productivity

by John Onorato


Have you heard the term “nomophobia?”  Perhaps, perhaps not.  This is an actual thing, though:  Nomophobia refers to the fear of being out of mobile contact, due to a user having no network coverage, losing their phone, running out of battery life or not having credit.

The word itself is an abbreviation of sorts, standing for No Mobile phone phobia.  It makes the language geek in me cringe, as it should properly mean “an irrational fear of the law.”  (Nomos, in Greek, means “law.”)  Still, there’s no accounting for taste, or Internet pundits, for that matter.

And apparently this is a big problem, as well.  47% of 2,163 women assayed have this fear, and 58% of men have it too.  The level of fear participants  experienced compared to those experienced on wedding day, trips to the dentist, and so on.

Of course, in many cases, this may not be an actual fear — or phobia — but may be simply a more typical anxiety.  Yet still, this points to dual growing trends in Western culture — those of mobile phone overuse and Internet addiction disorder.

So the question is — is this a real problem?  And if it is, should we address it?  How?

To be sure, mobile productivity applications and cloud-enabled networks, along with Unified Communications technologies and others enable workers to “make better use of their time.”  They can email while standing in line at the grocery store; they can work on a presentation while waiting for their car to be serviced; any idle bit of time can be transformed into a moment of productivity.

The downside to this, though, is that it’s disconnecting humans from one another, and pulling our focus into devices, a million miles away from the people standing right next to us.  We’re increasingly addicted to our tech, many enterprises having workers that are spending every free moment tweeting, emailing, and chatting, with the line demarcating work-related tasks and personal ones growing more blurry all the time.

Mobile devices are great ways to give us things to do.  Many times those things are even quite useful.  Too often, though, these devices take priority over the other people in the room with their users.  This is enough of a problem in a social setting; in a business setting, it can be disruptive and even insubordinate.

So again — how do we deal with this easy-to-distract workforce?

The first thing that needs to be done is basic parameters need to be laid down.  Like what parents do with children, ground rules for good screen time habits need to be set.  Firm corporate expectations need to be established.  Let your employees know, for example, that it’s your priority that your company be seen as on-task during meetings.  In other words, no phone use during meetings, especially when clients are present.  Of course there are extenuating circumstances; information needs to be looked up, and so on.  Phones are indeed useful tools.  But when that situation is dealt with, put the phone away.  And for heaven’s sake, no personal use.

Simply put, boundaries need to be set.

Another possible strategy might be to try convert disruptive habits to a more collaborative and productive effort.  Take, for example, business VoIP applications.  Most of them offer cost-effective ways of maintaining constant communications, and even collaboration between departments.  There’s video conferencing, SMS, IM, and the various features of UC as well.  So if, by their own choice, your employees are going to be cyborgs anyway, you might as well leverage that to your advantage.

For instance, do you have an employee that’s overloaded with work?  Try shifting some of that over to one of your more smartphone-addicted workers, and you’ll have a shot at remediating two problems at the same time.

And of course, there’s always the last step:  Bringing in an outside expert to talk about device etiquette in the digital age.  They can also deliver talks on how to deal with addictions to their devices, and actually get more done … instead of simply checking their phones 110 times a day.

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The Secret of Making Money in the Mobile Industry

by John Onorato


These days, you’re hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t have at least one mobile device in their pocket. Odds are that they have at least one game on that phone, music player, or whatever it might be. True, that game might have been preinstalled – remember the iThings that had Maze, where you would tilt the device around, causing the accelerometer to move the ball through the game?

More often than not, though, games that people have on their devices far transcend the paltry OEM offerings like Maze, Vortex and Klondike, which are Apple’s current out-of-the-box offerings. We use the iTunes Store and the Android Play Store to download better and more popular games. And as phones get more and more powerful, we now have games on those phones that rival offerings on dedicated devices such as the Playstation Vita or the Nintendo WiiU.

Turns out that so many people are playing mobile games these days, it’s beginning to look like the landscape of the living room will soon be changing forever, at least in terms of game consoles changing. Let’s face it: Smartphones and tablets are still changing rapidly, whereas the Xbox One is pretty much just an incremental upgrade from the 360. Same for the PlayStation 4.

And let’s not forget the mobility factor. You take your phone with you wherever you go; your tablet gets tucked in your bag when you dash. At the same time, though, your console is more or less permanently tethered to your television set. That mobility counts for a lot, especially in urban areas, say, on a long commute, where there’s ostensibly nothing to do.

Just don’t get me started on how the rise of mobile technology is contributing to the separation and fracturing of humans who would rather have their noses in a phone, and not making friends with their neighbors. End rant.

Three out of four top money-making iOS apps are games

Interested in where the money is going?  There’s an awful lot of it in mobile gaming.  According to Gartner, a leading information technology research firm, mobile gaming alone is expected to take up at least 20 percent of the market by 2015. Purchases made for mobile platforms are expected to amount to roughly $112 billion by 2015.  And as reported by Flurry Analytics, a leading mobile analysis provider, upwards of 80 percent of all proceeds generated last year by mobile applications were – you guessed it – games. And very recently, of the top 100 money-making iOS apps, more than three out of every four were games.

$112 billion? Really. Better start working on your app now, huh?

And for the largest slice of that pie, get cracking on the next version of Flappy Bird. Because mobile gaming is huge. Huger than huge. You think Texas is big? Texas ain’t got nothin’ on gaming, which overshadows pretty much every other activity. That eclipses activities that might seem to be universal among smartphone owners, like checking email, texting, reading news, or even actually calling people. Gaming is capturing the eyeballs of about 60 percent of tablet owners, as well.

You might think users would be more engaged with friends on Facebook or other social networks, but interestingly, they’re spending more time playing games on their tablets and phones. Perhaps more dramatically said, add up the time that users spend reading books and magazines, listening to music, and watching videos. That time doesn’t even approach, much less equal the total time spent playing games.

Like it or not, we’ve got miniature computers in our pockets and backpacks. Small wonder that they’ve become gaming platforms, as well as being taking on the tasks that they were originally designed for. They just happen to be able to do a lot of other things as well. Sure, we can read news, watch videos, talk to friends, whatever. We’re human, after all, and we just love our games.

Just get working on that Flappy Angry Maze Klondike Bird game if you want your slice of that mobile pie.