How to think like a mobile product manager
Mindsets are formed and not something you're born with.
Hi 👋, Rommel here! Welcome to this week's newsletter. Each week I share some tips and share knowledge about mobile product management. Take a look at last week's post:
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In this week’s newsletter, I’m going to share something important. As working professionals or even ones who are just entering the field, we all want to excel in what we’re doing. In order to excel in your work you need to have the proper knowledge and of course the right mindset as well. I firmly believe that mindsets are formed and not something you’re born with.
In order to think like a mobile PM first you need to know what a mobile PM does.
What does a Mobile PM do?
A mobile product manager is someone who helps create products or services for smartphones and other mobile devices. They work with a team of designers, engineers, and other professionals to come up with ideas for new mobile products, and then they help turn those ideas into reality. Overall, the job of a mobile PM is to make sure that a company’s mobile products are successful and meet the needs of its customers.
A big part of the role is having empathy for your customers. You need to understand your customer's pain points in order to find the right solutions.
It involves listening to your customers, doing in-app feedback, and doing some research on what your customers are saying about your product. Understanding where they are coming from is gonna help you build the right solution in order to satisfy your customers.
PM and Mobile PM Similarities
Thinking like a mobile PM is not far from thinking like a general PM. The difference here is you’re more focused on a specific type of product or domain which is mobile. It’s kinda like being a subject matter expert.
Responsibilities are almost the same. Both mobile PM and general PM are responsible for overseeing the development and success of a product. This typically involves setting the product’s strategy and goals, defining its features, working with a team to build the product, and analyzing data to assess the product’s performance and make improvements. Both roles require strong leadership and communication skills.
Both roles require you to lead without authority, you’re not anyone’s boss, so you don’t have any authority over your team. Influence is the key. You gotta influence your team members and stakeholders in order to create a successful product.
One of the key skills for both roles is the ability to prioritize. With limited time and resources, it is important for both roles to focus on the most important and impactful tasks and initiatives. This involves identifying the key objectives and goals of the product, understanding the needs and wants of the target market, and weighing the potential benefits and trade-offs of different options.
Effective prioritization requires a deep understanding of the product, the market, and the competitive landscape. It also requires the ability to think strategically and make difficult trade-off decisions. Both roles must be able to balance the short-term needs of the business with the long-term vision for the product.
Both roles need to be problem solvers. As the person responsible for a product, a mobile PM or general PM is often faced with a wide range of challenges and obstacles that must be overcome in order to succeed. This may include technical challenges, market competition, changing customer needs and preferences, and limited resources.
To effectively solve problems, they must be able to think critically and creatively. This involves identifying the root cause of a problem, analyzing the available data and information, and considering a range of possible solutions. It also requires the ability to think outside the box and consider unconventional or innovative approaches.
Listening to customers
Listening to customers is essential for the success of a product. Customers are the ultimate users of a product, and their feedback and input can provide valuable guidance on how to improve and evolve the product. By incorporating customer feedback into the product development process, a product manager can ensure that the product delivers value and meets the needs of its target market.
Now that you know the similarities, let’s dive deep into the difference between a mobile PM and a general PM.
Focusing more on Mobile PM
Being a mobile PM has its own unique challenges. You gonna need to be knowledgeable of the mobile platforms. Your distribution is dependent on your target platforms. And each platform has its own policies that you need to follow in order to launch your product without issues. To make things more clear, down below I’ll break it down into pieces.
Ok, let’s start with the most important, the platform. As a mobile PM, you need to be knowledgeable about your target platform. Having knowledge about your target platform gives you the ability to create a good strategy and execute the right initiatives. The most popular right now is the Apple (iOS) and Android ecosystems.
10 Important things that you need to be familiar with:
1.) Store Policies (e.g. App Store & Playstore)
Every store has its own policies. If you’re distributing in their stores you need to know their policies so that you have the knowledge on what’s possible or allowed in your app content or if you need additional requirements in order to use specific features, something like that. Knowing the store policies is important so that when it’s time to publish your app you can avoid your app being rejected because you violated their policy.
2.) Restricted Contents
You need to know what is allowed and not allowed in your app in order to make it available in the stores. This is very basic but sometimes it’s ignored and hoping that their app is miraculously accepted by the reviewers. Research what are the restricted contents on your target platform. Trust me it will save you a lot of time and headaches.
3.) Hardware Permissions
When accessing hardware components on the mobile device such as the camera, Bluetooth, or microphone there are some limitations and your app needs to request permission from your users. This is important because you need to tell your users why you’re asking for specific permission otherwise your users can mistrust your app or possibly your app will not pass in the review process. To give an example let’s say you're creating a to-do list app then suddenly you’re requesting location permission. Regular users will wonder why a to-do list app wants their location, in your perspective, it’s clear why you’re requesting it, it’s because you want to do a location base reminder feature, Some of your users don’t know that so you need to explain it to them in some way so that they can fully understand it.
4.) OS Updates
When was the last time that you did update your app? Did you experience some of your apps suddenly isn’t working or crashing after you update your phone?
Popular mobile platforms such as iOS and Android are great when releasing updates. As much as possible they want your apps to not be affected when they release an update. But sometimes when a major update or minor update(rare) is released and you didn’t adapt your app might suffer crashing issues or unexpected behaviors.
Always prepare when a new update is coming on your target or current platforms. Before releasing an update to the public they are giving access to the SDKs and emulators so that developers can test their apps on the new OS or try out the new feature of the OS. Don’t be afraid to try those out.
5.) In-App Purchases
If your app requires an in-app purchase you need to know their policies about it. This can really affect your business if you’re not aware of their policies, Google Playstore and Apple App Store charge you a specific percentage when using their in-app purchases they take a cut for every transaction. Take note this doesn’t apply to physical goods.
Having knowledge of your mobile platform’s ecosystem is a huge advantage. Especially if you have other products in their ecosystem. There are certain features that you can leverage and possibly add value to your product. Some examples of features that can add you can use are Handoffs and iCloud Syncing.
7.) OS-Specific Features
Targeting multiple mobile platforms means you will support different operating systems. There will be a certain feature on one OS that is not available on another. You gotta keep this in mind. Sometimes it’s ok to use that feature on your app and not implement it in another app on the other platform.
Nowadays our smartphone devices are almost as powerful as regular PC. But even with all that power available in your pocket, there are still a lot of limitations to it. The screen size is small, you have limited battery power and processing power. Knowing the limitation is important when you’re creating a product. Always keep in mind the platform and device's limitations.
9.) Screen sizes
There are many screen sizes and now different form factors of the screen due to foldable phones. When planning and designing your UI you must always think about the device screen sizes. You must adapt to your user’s needs and support their screen sizes. This can increase user satisfaction.
10.) Screen Orientation Changes
Supporting different orientation configurations can give you an advantage. There are some apps that if you use them horizontally can provide you with a much better experience. Keep experimenting and try different layouts for different screen orientations. It can be worth it to support different orientation configurations.
Publishing your app on App Store and Play Store and other platforms for distribution is different in some aspects compared to web apps or any other products. For your app to be published you need to follow some rules on their platform so that your mobile app can be approved. Oh yes, you read it right, when you try to publish your app it’s gonna be reviewed before it can be available to the stores. So how long will it take before the stores approved it? Actually, it depends on the store reviewers. There was a time that Apple announced that there will be no reviews during the holidays. But last year they announced that submissions will be accepted even on holidays but their review might take longer.
So as you can see this is really a factor when you create a launch plan. Always remember this every time you’re planning to release an update or a new app on the stores.
UI / UX
As a mobile PM, you must have a strong understanding of UI and UX in order to create a product that is both aesthetically pleasing and easy to use. User interface and User experience are two crucial components when developing a mobile app, with small screen real estate and different screen configurations you must delight your users with great UI and UX. This is what your users see and interact with. Having a strong understanding of UI and UX plays a major role to satisfy your users. Sometimes with a bad UI or UX, you can lose customers which leads to your users uninstalling your app. In my previous post, I mentioned that having a great UI and UX has a big factor when your users decide to uninstall your app.
Prioritizing features / Tradeoffs
With mobile apps, you have limited computing power, limited battery life, and a very limited amount of screen space to showcase your features and content. Most of the time you will make some tradeoffs on what to show and what not to show.
In addition to limitations, if you’re distributing or targeting multiple platforms you have to keep in mind that each platform has its own unique features, sometimes one feature is not available to another platform. That’s fine and you can still use that specific feature for your product even though it’s not available on another platform. A great sample of this is the Siri Shortcut integration on iOS. Android will never have that but you can still use it on your iOS app especially when you see a value in it.
One key responsibility of a mobile PM is to understand the market and identify opportunities for new products. Being tech-savvy is important because you can use your knowledge of technology to identify gaps and unmet needs in the market. This can be a crucial factor in the success of a product.
Technology nowadays moves very fast, just look at Android and iOS they constantly pushing new features and updates on their platform. As a mobile PM, you should be updated on the latest trends and updates on mobile platforms.
Product management is a highly integral part of any business because a product’s success greatly depends on it. Remember always listen to your customers, do customer interviews, collect feedback from social media, run surveys, and any other methods — The point here is to listen to your customers that’s crucial to you and your product.
Always keep in mind the limitation and dependencies on your target platform. Having this in mind can help you create a more effective strategy for delivering new and valuable mobile products.
What do you think about this post? Did you find it useful? Did I miss something? Let me know in the comment section and promise I’ll reply to your comments 😀.
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