By Kevin McGuire, SVP Product

You may have heard us say that we “make the smartphone smarter”. That’s because content discovery on smartphones is stunted and the way to fix it is to change how the device works. Device-centric discovery (DCD) solutions do just that. DCD solutions, like our Firstly Mobile Platform are designed to help users find and enjoy content without opening any apps.

 This four-part blog series is designed to help you understand what DCD is, why it matters, why consumers love it, and what it means for the wireless industry.

In our first part, we covered the basics – defining DCD, giving examples of existing DCD solutions, and revealing the market leaders. In our second part, we discussed why DCD is a growing trend. In our third part, we’ll discuss how consumers get DCD and how it’s impacted mobile behavior.

As we mentioned in part 1, there are several types of DCD solutions on the market. How consumers get or find them falls into one of three categories:

1) Part of the Phone-buying DECISION Process

a) Lock screen Solutions – For devices that deliver content directly to lock screen, the device’s capabilities are literally “in-your-face”.  For true media enthusiasts, this can be an in-store differentiator that influences a purchase decision.

b) Custom Launchers – While also available via the Play Store, custom Android Launchers are also built into the device and seen during the retail buying process.  Unique capabilities and distinctive UI/UX can appeal to, and sway a purchase decision.

2) Part of the Phone DAY-TO-DAY USAGE Process

a) Minus One Screens – Pre-installed on the device, a user can literally stumble upon and subsequently configure a personalized news feed one swipe to the right of the home screen.

b) Default Browser Search Pages – Pre-configured so that  the mobile browser augments the default “new” page with a feed of personalized content, users get exposed to content each time they load this default page.

c) Pre-Installed Apps – Apps, like Apple News, that come with their OS and, like Apple’s other apps (Maps, Weather, Calendar, Stocks, etc.) they are automatically integrated into Apple’s Minus One screen that’s permanently just one swipe away.

d) Widgets – Users will discover widgets within the apps that offer them as extensions.Once installed, it provides snackable info (without opening the app) one swipe left of the home screen.

3) Part of the Phone SET-UP Process

a) Discovery AgentsPre-installed on apps by either a wireless carrier or OEM, Discovery Agents give user the choice to opt-in as part of the set-up process.  Once opted-in, the agent proactively presents a content feed the user can engage with AFTER they unlock the device.


There are 2 differences that users will notice:

1) Access to Content Outside of Apps – The crux of DCD is removing content from their app containers and making them easily accessible to the user by removing the friction of extra taps, types, or swipes. A device with DCD enable will offer 1 or more ways for the user to easily find and enjoy content outside of apps. 

2) Changes Phone Usage – A DCD device will fundamentally change how people use their mobile phone. In part 2, we discussed how phone usage is trending to be more “Appnostic” – unlocks with no particular app in mind. A DCD device will create a greater engagement rate after unlock – giving people access to content with 0 (agents) or 1 touch (minus one, widgets). We’ll discuss this in further detail later in part 3.


In part 1, we learned that DCD solutions reduce the “friction” in finding the content we enjoy. 

While these solutions exist and are growing in popularity, the DCD category is still taking shape. Over time, competition will likely change – and these solutions will start competing with one another. But in today’s emerging market, DCD solutions compete with other traditional ways that people find content:

1) Social Media Apps – Facebook, Twitter, and other social apps are what people commonly go to when they have a moment to spare. Finding content naturally while browsing their never-ending feeds is something users are accustomed too. 

2) Content Recommendation Engines – Taboola and Outbrain serve as the proverbial “rabbit hole” that people jump through. They will follow you around the web and provide other content options to you when you are done with your existing content.

3) Search Engines – Google still remains an easy way for people to find specific content – with 95% of new searches being trending topics and 100% of Google’s Top 10 searches being things already in the news. While it may not be as low touch as DCD, for the person wanting content on a particular topic, a search bar is still a quick and familiar option. However, considering how much is based on trending topics, a DCD solutions that places trending recommendations on the page would be a lower touch option.

4) News FeedsCNN, Yahoo, New York Times, Redditt, BuzzFeed, and others provide their own content in regularly visited news feeds. DCD solutions seek to aggregate the most popular of the content from these feeds and personally deliver them for each user.


In part 2, we discussed how unlimited data has made consumers “Appnostic” – unlocking their phones frequently with no particular app in mind. DCD solutions best serve these Appnostic consumers – or rather, these consumers during their “Appnostic” moments – by giving them low-touch access to “frictionless” content and eliminating the need for the user to swipe, tap, or type to find something. 

This creates 2 major changes to mobile behavior:

1) Makes “Appnostic” Moments More Fulfilling – Instead of having to expend effort to find content with apps, DCD puts that content at the user’s fingertips. So during those moments in between – waiting for the elevator, sitting in an uber, or waiting for someone to return for the bathroom – they are now filled with a content experience that will inform or entertain.

2) Allows Carriers and OEMs to Drive ContentWhile users will be able to customize their DCD through a set of preferences, carriers and OEMs will have a level of control over what content they discover. For carriers and OEMs that have owned and operated content, this provides them an opportunity to put that content in play. We’ll cover this in more depth in part 4 of this series.

In our next part, we’ll dig deeper into how carriers are using DCD and the business value it provides to them.