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How to Rank User Preference for Mobile Phone Apps

Creating a superior product design is part art, part science. How do you design a product that meets the needs of the mass-market, but still incorporates some new features that appeal to the early adopters? The simple answer is that you follow the insights and pointers that surface from studying the emerging trends.

But how does a product designer rank and select the sought-after features with the most user appeal when the realm of possibilities is virtually endless? In the case of mobile phone applications, reaching that objective can be a dynamic and moving target.

Although applications remain, as a whole, relatively stable as far as desirability is concerned, the competition for the number one position tends to be constant.

In 2009, GPS turn-by-turn directions was the most desired cellphone application. In 2010, it was still popular but fell to the number two position -- usurped by users desire to surf the Internet, according to the latest market study by In-Stat.

"The accelerated adoption of open operating systems has created an innovative environment unique to the cellphone market," says Greg Potter, Analyst at In-Stat.

With compelling user interfaces and applications creating competitive advantages, the market has shifted its focus from individual features to improving existing capabilities that will provide the best user experience.

Key findings from the In-Stat market study include:

- Nearly 60 percent of survey respondents indicated that their wireless plan would include voice, messaging, and data.

- The inclusion of a physical QWERTY keyboard is still the preferred method for inputting new contacts.

- At almost 90 percent, respondents said that having a speakerphone was the most desired feature.

- GPS directions and surfing the Internet were cited as something respondents were willing, or might be willing, to pay for.

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