There are a couple of apps/services that dominate this market, such as Netflix, Imdb, Flixter, etc. We took a closer look at them and quite a few others that are trying to emulate them, enhancing some of the features.

But the features are on the surface, what is the actual purpose, the core of the experience they try to provide? We tried to identify what do they want their users to do after or during the use of the app. It looks like the goal is to enable users to get to know more about a movie, talents and instruct users where to see it. In other words they compete to be user’s sidekick in regards to all things movies; provide info and mechanism for the user to follow certain films or filmmakers. OK, legit. There are multiple ways to monetize on that fact, from subscription to the service, website visits, advertising, cut from the ticket sales etc. Their core experience is very business, transaction driven and it engages users on the surface cognitive level, rarely on the deeper emotional, connecting level.

From the execution perspective, it is sad to see some of those UIs. One of the things that poked me in the eye immediately is that almost all of the apps for small mobile phone screens, for a movie thumbnail graphic, use movie posters! K, iPhone is 4″ diagonal. With different layouts they cramp in 4 to 10 movie posters in that area. I think somebody has to remind them that a movie poster is designed for formats 30×40″ and up. Showing it at less than inch in diagonal, not only does not deliver emotional punch it is designed for, but create a noise! More posters on screen – more noise. All the beautiful imagery, typography, symbols are lost in this size, all melts into the noise. Titles are so small that even that signal can not perform its function and the title needs to be replicated in the text field on the side. What other info is provided there? Average ratings, list of cast (not pictures), duration, release date, money earned etc. So the movie posters are not enough noise, now all this other, so not important info at this point, create additional noise for an average user they are targeting. Actually, it feels as if they are targeting stock traders or board of directors than an average person, a film fan. Adding standard iOS top and bottom toolbars to this… enough said about the noise. Buried in, there is some sort of Sharing mechanism, but this social aspect is almost an afterthought, a must have feature these days rather than carefully thought of foundational element, something core. Again, this kind of apps and UIs on the surface level are very utilitarian and do not address deeper emotional level.