Apps storm ahead while mobile websites stumble
Lucky Chunli Fu of Qingdao, China, downloaded the 25 Billionth iOS App the other day. He won a $10,000 iTunes card for making the landmark purchase. I think that will keep him in Apps and music for a while. With Android topping 10 billion downloads it’s clear that Apps have become THE growth medium of the last four years since the App store opened in 2008.
With those kinds of stats it’s tempting for every business to think ‘I need one of those’ but these days if you’re investing in an App you can’t just think about iOS: there’s also Android, BlackBerry, and Windows Mobile too. This can potentially get very expensive for businesses to be developing and maintaining Apps across multiple platforms, as well as the desktop site.
The reality is that most businesses do not even have a site that is optimised for use on a mobile or tablet device, where screen size, load time, use of images, and size of text all have to be considered. Sites must be developed for gesture (touching, scrolling) and users don’t want to have to pinch and zoom to read the site, or fall victim to the ‘fat finger’ issue with tiny buttons and links.
Apps will always enable all kinds of additional functionality over mobile web – usually around delivering richer content, or hooking into the devices’ capabilities, such as the user interface features such as swiping, tilting; and integration with phone book / maps and other programs.
But as a first instance, businesses must work on optimising their main site for a mobile device. Still, around 70% of businesses do not have a mobile-optimised website. This is crazy given that we are now seeing upwards of 20% of traffic to websites originating from mobile devices; and this is forecast to be nearly 30% by the end of this year. The mass availability of smartphones, unlimited data mobile internet contracts and the advent of 4G services will only accelerate this trend over the coming years, and some estimate that by 2015, mobile will account for a bigger share of internet traffic than desktop.
As a first step, we recommend you benchmark how your site performs in mobile browsers. Google have launched an initiative aimed at helping businesses adapt for mobile customers. Visit Howtogomo.com and check out how your site performs a range of different metrics. And there’s a great plugin for the Firefox browser that shows you what your site looks like on different mobile devices and tablets.
Of course, you could just load up your company website through your mobile phone and see for yourself…. If you can put Angry Birds aside for a minute, that is.