Special Topics     Designing Mobile Services

05.499 & o5.899       Spring 2013


Location:              SCR (300 South Craig Street), Room 103

Time:                      Tu and Th from 3:30pm to 4:50pm


Instructor:         Jim Morris

Office:                    6017 Gates Hillman Center

Phone:                   412 609-5000

Email:                   james.morris@cmu.edu (I read email whenever IÕm awake.)

Skype:                    jhm15217

Office hours:     by appointment


Coach:                    John Zimmerman

Office:                    NSH 2504F

Phone:                   412-608-8181 (mobile É feel free to call or text me if you need me in a hurry)

Email:                   johnz@cs.cmu.edu

IM (AIM):             atemegabites

Office hours:     by appointment (feel free to stop by ... or feel free to call and then stop by)


Coach:                    Eric Cooper

Office:                    GH 4109

Phone:                   412 370 5825

Email:                   ecc@cmu.edu

IM (AIM):            

Office hours:     by appointment




Over the last several years the software industry has reframed traditional products as services. The arrival of smart phones has opened a new domain for location-based, just in time, context aware, and highly social applications to emerge. Arriving with these new smart phones are mobile application distribution centers like the iTunes App Store and the Android Marketplace, which further reduce the amount of effort needed to create and distribute a successful software application. Today many of the resources needed by tech startups such as servers, electronic storefronts, analytics, and financial transactions can be purchased at very low cost as a service. This represents an exciting new frontier for mobile service startups. The barriers to entry in the mobile application market are so low that people can literally run a startup on the weekends with some friends. But how can you create a successful startup that makes service applications that can sell for $.99, that standouts against the constant explosion of new products and services, and that gains a foothold while moving towards profitability?





In this class students will design a mobile service. Working in interdisciplinary teams of approximately five, students will work to imagine and communicate a mobile service that is desirable for a target set of users, fills a gap within the current competitive landscape, is technical feasible, and is financial viable. The course intends to develop three things:

o   Attitudes

o   Create financially viable services.

o   Adopt the improv approach to teamwork.

o   Be an active searcher and learner.

o   Be a Lean Startup.

o   Alternate between exploration and focus.


o   Skills

o   Presentations

o   Value analysis

o   Data gathering

o   Design

o   Business cases

o   Video Sketches


o   Understanding

o   Services

o   Mobility




This is a studio/seminar class with time devoted to lecture, discussion, practice activities, design work sessions, and criticism of student work. The class will follow a design process consisting of five phases:

¤  Orientation: Students will describe the current state of the world in terms of politics, economy, society, and technology (PEST) to find product opportunity gaps—products and services that might improve the world.

¤  Generation: Teams will use various design methods to ideate many possible services that could fill this gap

¤  Analysis: Teams will investigate their possibilities from the perspective of desirability, technical feasibility, and financial viability and reduce the choices.

¤  Pitch: Teams will produce a video sketch demonstrating the intended user experience of their mobile service.

¤  Refinement: Teams will create a first, minimal implementation of the service intended to further test the market.

Each phase ends with a presentation and report that are specified in the links above.


This is a project class where students will work in a single team. Based on the various skill sets within the class, the instructors will generate teams of approximately 5 students.


Each team has a $100 budget to spend on things like Mechanical Turk, Google Ads, food, etc. Give me the receipts, and IÕll reimburse you and get reimbursement from my University discretionary account.


Following each design phase, team members will assess their teammates on the following criteria.


¤  Group Participation: Attends meeting regularly and on time

¤  Time Management: Accepts fair share of work and reliably completes it by the required time

¤  Team Culture: Positive attitude, encourages and motivates team, supports team decisions, reach consensus, resolves conflicts

¤  Technical/ Creative/Adaptive: Creates and develops materials on own, originates new ideas displays a wide range of skills, accepts change easily

¤  Communication Skills: Effective in discussions, good listener, capable presenter, proficient at representing and documenting work


Peer evaluation can influence an individual studentÕs grade by up to 10% (-5% to +5%)




Many readings are in Business Model Generation which you should purchase ($20 from Amazon).


Other readings can be found in the Dropbox folder and the web. IÕm working on getting a CoursePack from coursepacks.com; if itÕs not too expensive I may ask you to buy it—IÕm stretching the Fair Use doctrine by making things available directly.


You are encouraged to be a self-directed learner and use every source of help you can—the web, recommended readings, references in the recommended readings, previous student projects (DMS 2011 and DMS 2012), even other students and faculty.  DonÕt limit yourself to the suggested readings; find new ones. You must acknowledge and document all your sources; part of the grade for an assignment depends upon use of good sources. Pictures and other things you copy from the web should include the source. This absolves you of any charges of cheating and allows others to dig deeper into your ideas. (If we ever think you are doing too much mindless copying, weÕll say so.)


There are more readings to cover than we would expect any individual student to complete. Each task is followed by a list of resources, roughly in the order we value them. For required readings, marked by *, we will randomly choose students in each class to explain key points. For other readings the team can divide the work and have one person read each item and explain it if/when the need arises during the design process.


Graduate Credit

Students taking the 899 version of this class will be expected to play a leadership role in teams, especially in communicating the readings.



Rules of the road

á       So that others may benefit from their work, all students must sign the following statement (or a negotiated version): ÒI grant Carnegie MellonÕs Human Computer Interaction Institute the non-exclusive right to use all the materials I submit for the course Design of Mobile Services for the purposes of instruction in other versions of the course.Ó


á       Although the title of the class says Òmobile services,Ó teams will be free to create any innovation if they see it as the best opportunity. It doesnÕt have to be mobile or be a service.


á       No student may record or tape any classroom activity without the express written consent of the instructors. If a student believes that he/she is disabled and needs to record or tape classroom activities, he/she should contact the Office of Disability Resources to request an appropriate accommodation.


á       Students are expected to attend class, arrive on time, participate on a team, and discuss whatever they read. In addition, students are expected to offer criticism of their classmatesÕ work that helps the team improve their design. If students need to miss a class, they should email the instructors ahead of time, and they should be sure to inform their teammates they will not be attending.


á       We encourage students might to attend the SXSW conference in Austin, TX during the spring break and discuss their ideas with people there. But we have scheduled student presentations for the Thursday before the conference begins, so leaving early is not a good idea. There are flights to Austin leaving at 18:35 Thursday, and we may offer a group limo leaving from Craig St. that day.


Grading Weights


Orientation presentation                                                                                                     10%

Generative presentation and report                                                                            15%

Analysis presentation and report                                                                                 20%

Video sketch                                                                                                                                   20%

Refinement presentation and report                                                                          20%

ProjectÕs Promise                                                                                                                        10%

Class Participation                                                                                                                   5%


New:  Since mastery of certain concepts, e.g. value diagrams, will grow throughout the semester, I may go back raise low grades when something is demonstrated in a later phase.


Class Participation includes coming to class on time and with a positive attitude, participating in discussions of readings, presenting material that you have read and synthesized for the class (899 version of the class only), and most importantly a willingness to offer criticism of the work of other teams during the class crits including problems, suggested solutions to problems, and kudos for exceptionally good work.




        The course schedule will be maintained as this Google Calendar, DMS, and all other documents, including turned-in reports will be on a Dropboxª folder, DMS. Readings for the week will be put in the Sunday item and can be accessed via links found in the calendar item descriptions. Select the url and right click it to find a menu item that opens the reading in your browser. Also, after each lecture, any ppt that was used will appear in the calendar entry for that lecture.