Does Delta’s decision imply anything about the iPad? After all, Delta was famously early in adopting tablets for their pilots (famous mostly because they made the “safe” decision to go with Microsoft and re-decided and switched to iPads).
This is a useful question, because I’m often talking to people about how big companies seem to misunderstand the importance of native mobile apps (and in the context of the operating system, iOS on the iPad makes me include the iPad in my thoughts about mobile computing).
If consumers don’t care (they’re not buying Delta tickets on iPads) why do it? I get that a separate iPad app is expensive, and if the revenue isn’t there, it’s hard to get to a reasonable ROI.
My point of view on that is simple. Delta is concerned with Delta. The app costs Delta a lot, and the ROI is how Delta makes decisions.
Jobs to be done
But what about customers?
In a customer experience driven world Delta needs to think about customers first. What job is it that their customers hire them to do? Can an iPad help deliver a better job-outcome (or new jobs that aren’t able to be satisfied by the phone)?
We aren’t challenging invisible enterprise technology assumptions
Two thoughts in the second to last paragraph of the article caught my attention. The first is actually what made me write this post, it’s the kind of sentiment that really sticks with me:
And just because Delta is killing the iPad app doesn’t mean that you can’t use your tablet to book your next flight. You can still download Delta’s iPhone-optimized Fly Delta app, which will give you largely the same experience.
Well, if your best creative thinking gets you to the point where a big screen iPad gives you the same experience as a small screen phone, maybe that’s the problem?
And the second point:
The company told VentureBeat that the retirement of the iPad app will allow Delta to “focus on delivering a consistent customer experience through the channels our customers use most.”
(Again, emphasis mine)
Here’s the thing. People don’t really use many different and unrelated channels. Meaning, they don’t use PCs and iPhones and Android devices… they use their devices (I get this is a broad generalization, let’s hold off judging that as a way to explore this thought).
If a company wants to create a consistent experience across all of those technologies, again, they’re thinking of themselves, not their customers. I understand why (it’s cost effective) but doing so demonstrates a lack of understanding about customer experience trends. It reminds me of one of the tweets I quote most often:
Reminder: cross-platform UIs mean your product looks consistent to you and weird to all of your actual users. https://t.co/NvT3X8KKDS
— Benedict Evans (@BenedictEvans) July 4, 2017
I think companies need to get past ROI, or at least, ROI as we think of it today, as a metric for deciding what technology projects to pursue. At least until there is a better way to quantify experience benefits and incorporate them into ROI models. I don’t have anything better in mind, I’m just putting that thought out there.
And, there’s also a trend towards iOS apps plus responsive web pages for Android that I’m noticing. It’ll be interesting to see what 2018 bring on this front, as I think that cross platform development will only get harder.