While mobile devices have been around for years, 2012 seems like the year that designing web sites for mobile users has gone mainstream. New solutions to address mobile users such as responsive design - that weren’t even part of the lexicon a year ago - are being adopted by leading brands (see our work with World Wildlife Fund, Timelife, and Colorado State University OnlinePlus). A keystone of our discovery process now includes a strategy discussion about delivering content and functionality for tablets and smartphones users.
Trevor presented some stats about mobile at an internal company meeting a few weeks ago. I thought they were so astounding, I wanted to share them with you. The stats illustrate three important trends that I wanted to share as well.
10 Astounding Mobile Stats
- There are more iPhones sold every day than there are babies being born (378,000 vs. 371,000). (More)
- By the end of 2012, there will be more mobile devices connecting to the Internet than there are people on Earth. (More)
- Android: 1.3 million device activations per day and climbing. (More)
- 480 million Android users. (More)
- 31% of American adults who have cell phones use their phones for the majority of their Internet access. (More)
- More than half of internet connections on the African continent are exclusively on mobile. (More)
- 17% of cell phone owners do most of their online browsing on their phone, rather than a computer or other device. (More)
- At the end of 2011, there were 6 billion mobile subscriptions, estimates The International Telecommunication Union (2011). That is equivalent to 87 percent of the world population. And is a huge increase from 5.4 billion in 2010 and 4.7 billion mobile subscriptions in 2009. (More)
- 6B connections today, 10B connections in 2016, 26X worldwide traffic growth. (More)
- 31% of all Americans only or mostly use the Internet on their mobile phones. That amounts to 50 million Americans. (More)
While these stats alone aren’t revealing, we can infer a few trends that are important for companies operating locally and globally. Here are the three I think are most exciting and important.
The 3 Mobile Trends To Watch
Desktop no longer the only door to the Internet
Today, a big part of your audience surfs the Internet from their mobile device. It has always been critical to optimize the Internet experience for different users based on how they consume the content, but now there’s a new variable. Creating both a desktop and mobile experience requires additional design and development time and while managers are slowly starting to orient their planning around this new reality not everyone is up to speed. Don’t be left behind in making the shift.
Technology here to stay
Every now and then a new technology comes around and there are naysayers who claim the technology is a trend and sometimes those naysayers are right (eg: Rollerblades). Mobile is here to stay. While this should be pretty obvious, it is great to see Andriod gain market share. It’s exciting because strong competitors bring healthy dynamics to a marketplace, helping drive technical and business model innovation to ensure the sustainability of the technology. Thinking that mobile is a trend with a short life cycle would be a mistake. Don’t be one to make it.
Mobile as first screen
The popularity and adoption of mobile technologies means that desktop is no longer the center of the Internet universe. In countries where the physical infrastructure to support broadband connection is trailing behind installing cell towers for mobile connections, developing a desktop site should not necessarily be the first priority. For products and brands that are more relevant to a demographic segment that is on mobile more than desktop, then developing a mobile experience should definitely be the top of your list. Don’t blindly do what was done last year and build a web site without thinking about your audience.
But remember, it’s all about how you do it.
Context matters. I love responsive design and enjoy championing it as a new and exciting solution for reaching mobile audiences. But it isn’t a silver bullet or the right solution in all cases. A separate mobile site or a native application is a far more appropriate solution in certain contexts if the user wants to do or see something different based on the device their on. Check out some of the mobile sites and native applications we’ve been building for the likes of Puma, Posterous, Bypass Lane, Opower, Lafayette College and more.
What’s your mobile strategy?