Mobile Web is Taking off… How do I make it work for me?

September 22nd, 2010 by

The Mobile Web is taking off.  This year the number of US mobile phone users that accessed the mobile web grew by 25% to reach 85.5 million mobile users, according to eMarketer. It is expected to grow to 142.1 million users by 2014, or over 50% of mobile phone users.

user penetration

If a mobile web site is not a part of your marketing mix, then the time is now because this is where your customers are going.

This growth is being driven by the adoption of smartphones (no surprise here), but with over 35 million users accessing the mobile web, feature phones still represent a sizable number of users. It’s easy to miss this fact sitting here in the San Mateo, just south of San Francisco, where you can’t swing a stick without hitting someone on their iPhone, Droid or another clever device.  However, in working with a lot of popular media brands, we see this reality daily in our server logs.  In August, for example, over 6100 different phones hit our servers. The iPhone was indeed the number one device with 16% of total usage, which is pretty impressive. Fueled by a strong growth in Android penetration and resurgent pushes by Blackberry, a couple of different Blackberry and Android smartphones appeared on our top 5 lists. And while we’re not seeing feature phones generating as many hits smartphones do, based on our logs, we can certainly tell that there remains a large group of mobile internet users who still clings to their legacy devices.

devices

So if you want to reach all your customers, the iPhone alone won’t get you the broad coverage that you need.  I want to note this, because it seems that many brands’ approach to mobile is to create an iPhone mobile site (or worse, just an iPhone app). While this approach will hit your #1 device — and it deserves to get its own unique user experience — companies need to think more broadly about reaching the majority of their customers on whatever device they are using.

Worse still are the companies that have not created a mobile site for even the iPhone, and are instead relying on the mobile browser to correctly render their HTML website.  It might work in some cases, but who wants to pinch and drag their way to the desired information?  Not only do you need to design the site to fit the phone, but you also need to consider how mobile users will use your content or service differently while they are on the go, as opposed to sitting at a desk in front of a PC.

While on their mobile phone, users expect to easily get to the information and content that they are used to getting online.  Thus, having an optimized mobile web site is fast becoming a must have for online brands. The challenge is that mobile users carry a wide array of phones with varying browsers, screen sizes and device capabilities, all of which make broad coverage quite complex. We’ve been delivering mobile development solutions for almost a decade now, and that is why we created SmartPath – to help us and our customers create unique and engaging mobile experiences that can be enjoyed on a multitude of devices with varying capabilities.

There are many avenues you can take with your mobile strategy. Here at Trilibis we are decidedly focused on mobile web because this medium lets us and our clients realize 3 key benefits without a lot of compromise – broad reach, high level of content customization and relatively low cost of support. Stay tuned as we share more on these topics, as well as our upcoming release of SmartPath 5.

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