What can mobile app development teams learn from a spinning top?


The left image was found in the Tomb of Tutankhamun, who died about 1323 BC. The two images on the right are contemporary, which means these tops were manufactured about 3300 years apart.

For many, it is hard to imagine a world when simpler, non-electronic, toys were the primary options for fun. How quickly we seem to forget!

IT and C-Level executives might be surprised to discover there are three business lessons that can still be learned from a simple toy like a spinning top.

Here are three for consideration:

Simplicity Can Increase Durability

Sometimes, the simplest concept can stand the test of time. Archeologists have found spinning tops that date back over five thousand years. And, here’s the most amazing stat: they still function today exactly as they did then. What about your mobile app? How will it stand the test of time? Is anyone taking bets that a cell phone, or any of its apps, will still be working five thousand years from now? How about one year from now?

Tipping Points

Without going into the physics of how a spinning top works, suffice it say that once a top is correctly spinning on a smooth surface, it will continue to do for as long as its’ spinning inertia can maintain a balance. Once inertia begins to slow, balance will falter, and the spinning top will revert back into being just an inert object. Eerily this description fits mobility software programs, too. Finding the right balance in software features and functions, without making it overloaded, may make the critical difference in the lifespan of the product. There are tipping points when all software programs stop being useful. And, an unused software app is another definition of an inert object. Have you identified your tipping points?

User Interfaces

A complex concept implies complex user interfaces. Plus, a complex concept has more points of failure than a simpler concept. A spinning top is an intuitive product. The very design of a top invites the user to give it a spin with a flick of the wrist. When users look at your mobile app, what is appealing and inviting about it? Is it intuitive or intimidating? Are users ready to give it a flick or a swipe to get started?

Final Thoughts

What are your best case hopes and aspirations for the life of your mobile app? A year? More than two years? More than five years?? Perhaps emulating the lessons learned from a spinning top will help produce positive influences on your mobile application projects. Aim high!