Arguments fly back and forth during discussions of what makes a good mobile product. Needs vary from person to person, but if you boil down the essentials a good mobile product needs to have the following design attributes.
Simple design. It doesn't need to be fancy and full of design bells and whistles, it needs clean lines that work comfortably in the hands. No Cadillac fins needed, just a sleek, clean design that is highly portable.
Innovate on the inside. Keeping it simple doesn't quite apply to the guts of the mobile device, both hardware and software. Find an area that is unique to the genre and then make that work as well as possible. Differentiate your product by making it do something new and useful, either through hardware or software.
Give it smooth operation. Users have a knee-jerk negative reaction to gadgets used in the hand that do not do things smoothly and glitch-free. It is essential to put development into every aspect of a smooth operation to make users feel good while using the device. There are no corners to cut in this respect.
Identify the major uses for such a device. It is critical with mobile devices that they do the major functions that users expect from such a device. Adding extra functionality to the mix is good, but doesn't help the reaction to a mobile product if the core applications don't serve user's needs. It is possible to identify the five core functions that a user will want to perform on a given device. Make those rock solid, without fail. Buyers identify closely with those gadgets that do the basic things very well.
Price it appropriately. This is just basic business, but with a highly competitive space like mobile pricing is very important. You don't have to be the cheapest product of a given type, but you have to be in the ballpark. This sounds so elementary that it shouldn't need to be mentioned, but looking around the mobile space shows many companies do not get it.
Market it properly. Don't run an expensive ad campaign to show how your whiz-bang device runs technical circles around the competition. Mainstream consumers don't get the message, and are turned off by ads they do not understand. This also applies to abstract campaigns, such as the creepy Palm Pre ads back in the day. Just show the prospective buyer what the gadget can actually do for them, and how good that will make them feel. Mobile devices are very personal in nature, and ad campaigns for them should capitalize on that.
Image credit: Flickr user Rennett Stowe