If you’re looking to launch an app in both the US and Europe there’s a very compelling reason to embrace in-the-wild testing: the growing gap of “next generation services” that could mean your app will act drastically different on either side of the pond.
While Europe was often ahead of the US in terms of rolling out new mobile innovations the roles have reversed in recent years. According to a report by GSMA, the United States is now far outpacing Europe in terms on new innovations, adoption of new advances and overall mobile use. From PC World:
“However, this report confirms the very sobering reality that Europe has lost its edge in mobile and is significantly underperforming other advanced economies, including the US.” …
On average, “U.S. consumers spend more each month than their EU counterparts and use mobile services much more intensely, consuming five times more voice minutes and nearly twice as much data,” the report says. It predicts that by the end of 2013, nearly 20 percent of U.S. connections will be on LTE (4G) networks, compared to fewer than 2 percent in the EU.
Average mobile data connection speeds in the U.S. are now 75 percent faster than those in Europe, and by 2017 U.S. speeds “will be more than twice as fast,” according to the report. Mobile investment in the US has also outpaced that in Europe, with capital expenditure in the U.S. growing by 70 percent since 2007 while declining in the EU, and “the gap continues to widen.”
If you want your app to perform well in both North America and Europe it’s important to test in both locations. Different use habits and user expectations can sink your app without you even knowing why. In-the-wild usability testing and localization testing can help shine a light on potential problems before users encounter them. The different infrastructure can also have an effect on how well your app performs. There’s no way to replicate this successfully and accurately in a lab – testers need to be in the field, using the actual networks.