By definition mobile users are on the move. They use smartphones for the very reason that they are out of their home/office and need a convenient device they can use for their communication and collaboration needs. One of the key characteristic of the mobile users is that they work in discontinuous and often short bursts. When users are working at home/office they tend to be more focused and dedicated to the task at hand. However, when out of the home/office they tend to be doing many different things and are less focused. They get interrupted by calls, lose mobile connection, have to shut down their smartphone because of starting a discussion with someone or boarding a plane, or get engaged in a discussion, etc. This means that the mobile user who tries to use a smartphone for work needs the flexibility to work in short bursts. The user will do a part of the task, get interrupted and come back to the task and continue till the next interruption. If the work involves using a smartphone application, and the application cannot handle interruptions and requires continuous attention till completion, the mobile user will waste much of their work every time the interruption occurs.
If smartphones are to become the next IT platform the applications running on smartphones must be able to handle the frequent interruptions that mobile users experience. The vast majority of Web based applications are not very good at this. This is because Web applications generally save the information entered on a Web page only when the user Submits the web page. If the user is working on the page and loses connection prior to the Submit, all the work and the information entered by the user is generally lost. This is not a big problem for home/office users because the chances of losing connection are slim given today’s technology. However for mobile users this is a frequent occurrence for the reasons that I discussed above.
Smartphone applications will have to evolve to handle the discontinuous work patterns of mobile users. While technically this is not a major challenge, it requires a lot of work as there are a large number of applications out there and each application will have to be modified to remember who is connected and save the information they have entered at significant junctures. In addition some other issues such as user authentication also need to be handled to facilitate discontinuous work patterns.