Every time people use mobile devices, they engage in a mobile interaction, using their devices to access resources or perform tasks. Studies on usage patterns with these devices show that they can be markedly different from those with other types of technology, like desktop computers. Mobile interactions tend to be highly user driven and many involve a social component. Users may network devices or programs, sometimes in ways not necessarily intended by the manufacturer, to engage in an assortment of activities.
Mobile interactions can involve anything from scanning a code on an advertisement, to opening a website, to participating in alternate reality gaming with the use of mobile devices. These interactions rely on applications to enable different functions. Many of these are free or available at a relatively low cost, and used by the developer to get access to the mobile market. A gaming company, for example, may provide a free application with benefits available only by subscription. As users are drawn in to the game, they can use a mobile interaction to buy services within the game.
Users of mobile devices tend to expect fast, reliable connectivity and a high degree of connectivity with each mobile interaction. Companies that design utilities for mobile applications need to think in streamlined terms to provide these services at the quality users expect. This can include mobile-optimized versions of websites, facilitating quick information networks, or the development of mesh networks to allow the exchange of information between mobile devices. Mesh networking has a number of applications for social networking in particular, as people can signal and message each other without the intermediary of a service or carrier-provided network.
Companies with an interest in tapping the mobile market can study mobile interaction to learn more about how people use this technology, and what kinds of campaigns, applications, and utilities they respond to. Specialists can focus on the development of campaigns and services that utilize mobile devices and appeal to specific populations, like young women, that a company may want to reach through mobile outreach. Psychologists also have an interest in this field, to learn more about how technology changes human behavior and facilitates various activities.
The degree of interactivity provided through a mobile device can depend on the software loaded, the device itself, and the mobile carrier. Constant upgrades in the technology can provide more opportunities in addition to complicating the development of products for mobile applications. With numerous different platforms, developers need to think about how to make products with broad cross-platform compatibility if they want to create as many mobile interaction opportunities as possible.