CNN Ensures Feature Phones Are Not Left In the Cold

December 16th, 2014 by


With the holiday season now in full swing, analyses of the role mobile plays in commerce are showing up in my mailbox every day. The mobile share of all e-tail transactions is now anywhere from 30% to more than 50%, depending on which report you read. And, predictably, much of the commentary focuses on the share of smartphones and tablets, because these are the preferred devices of the affluent mobile shopper. We certainly saw that shift coming and made the jump to OneWeb technologies so that our customers and partners could be on the forefront of multi-device web design.

However, it is interesting to note that there are millions of feature phones still in use. In fact, according to Gartner, it wasn’t until 2013 that annual sales of smartphone users surpassed sales of feature phones. While there’s been a definite market shift away from the ‘m’ domain that was the norm before the dawn of the smartphone and responsive design, the largest brands with millions of users still have sizable audiences using these devices. This poses a real problem for web development teams, many of which have been focused on smartphone- and tablet-centric web strategies such as responsive web design, mobile-first design and adaptive design.

A great example of a large media player that must look both forwards and backwards with its web strategy is CNN. Until recently, CNN had been managing two m-dot sites using a third-party proprietary platform that was scheduled to become obsolete. CNN still had a sizable audience that used older phones, and felt strongly that it wanted to serve its news to all devices — from the newest iPhone to the oldest Blackberry.

That being the case, the web group that oversees and approached Trilibis to develop a long-term solution that would enable them to provide an optimized experience for the older mobile devices that are still in use. With our years of mobile expertise, mobile publishing technologies and a device database that includes thousands of mobile phones, we were able to offer an integrated solution that included both non-touch smartphones and feature phones. So, if you happen to be walking around with a feature phone, launch that WAP browser and go to to see their new site.

While our focus is decidedly on the future and helping brands move to a One Web experience using SNOW, our server-side responsive design technology, it is kind of cool to be able to build a simpler site that will run on these older phones. I wonder if situations like this will become more commonplace in future as m-dot expertise and turnkey solutions become obsolete. If you still have a lot of users on feature phones or just think it is important for your brand to be represented on all platforms, let’s talk. Please contact us here.

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