Why Mobile?

FROM A LUKE Wroblewski-led mobile workshop currently in progress at An Event Apart San Francisco:

  1. There are more mobile devices than there are people in the world.
  2. 1.3 billion mobile page views a year.
  3. Facebook says a few years form now “almost everyone at Facebook will focus exclusively on mobile.”
  4. 1 in 10 mobile smartphones are iPhones. But one iPhone is responsible for twice the traffic of an Android phone (its nearest competitor).
  5. 27% of all Yelp usage currently comes from mobile.
  6. Web vs. Native: Facebook has 350 Million mobile users. 50% of that access is via the web. The other 50% is native (all platforms). All native apps put together equal the same usage as web.
  7. “People will do stuff on the closest screen near them that is good enough.”
  8. 50% of Africa and Asia only access the internet on mobile.
  9. “Clinging to desktop experience and ignoring mobile is like a record company clinging to CDs while digital passes them by.” Luke W.
  10. An entire generation of people starting to use the internet on mobile in Asia, Africa, etc. Kenya 20% of GDP happens on mobile devices. Mobile phones will overtake desktops as the most common web access devices worldwide by 2013.

And why mobile web (vs. native)?

  1. Rapidly growing “real” businesses.
  2. Access across multiple platforms and without apps.
  3. Instant updates, fixes, and testing.
  4. No plying in anyone else’s backyard.
  5. Great way to get started with mobile.

11 thoughts on “Why Mobile?

  1. So, conceptually on board with web apps for mobile, but what’s the best/easiest way to get your app icon on someone’s phone while simply linking it to a web page?

    Publish compiled apps that are simple single-location browsers?

  2. Re: 4. 1 in 10 Smartphones an iPhone.

    Seems low?

    Thought it was more like 3 in 10 smartphones, and around 1 in 10 phones in general.

  3. What your last points really mean:

    “Access across multiple platforms and without apps.”
    = you don’t code for one platform, but mix code for all platforms together to one big spaghetti of ‘if then else’-constructs, and force each platform to do a lot of extra work to find, extract and interpret only those peaces of code they need.

    “Instant updates, fixes, and testing.”
    = you don’t thoroughly test your software before submitting it to a third party which reviews and tests the software again before finally putting it ‘life’, but you constantly dump half tested code online (in beta), and try to fix the bugs while your customers are trying to use it.

    “No plying in anyone else’s backyard.”
    = you conform yourself to what’s possible with code running inside third party apps (browsers) in stead of getting the most you can out of the complete mobile OS-ses.

    “Great way to get started with mobile.”
    = you don’t want to invest in the future, and therefore try to convince everyone to keep using that ‘good old’ HTML for another decade.

  4. I’m not sure I understand. Is the first list a list of reasons to develop / learn to develop for mobile? If so…

    > There are more mobile devices than there are people in the world.

    That’s not a reason. I don’t care about the devices, I care about the people.

    > 1.3 billion mobile page views a year.

    Again, this doesn’t mean anything. That’s a global figure showing that there’s traction in mobile. It’s out of context (compare to non-mobile figures, show breakdown by country, show page view time by mobile/non-mobile, show the types of things people do when mobile vs. the types of things people do non-mobile).

    > Facebook says a few years form now “almost everyone at Facebook will focus exclusively on mobile.”

    Not a reason to ‘do’ mobile.

    > 1 in 10 mobile smartphones are iPhones. But one iPhone is responsible for twice the traffic of an Android phone (its nearest competitor).

    Interesting but not a reason to do mobile.

    > 27% of all Yelp usage currently comes from mobile.

    63% of Yelp’s views–a website which gets more useful when you are mobile–are still served to non-mobile users.

    > Web vs. Native: Facebook has 350 Million mobile users. 50% of that access is via the web. The other 50% is native (all platforms). All native apps put together equal the same usage as web.

    Not a reason.

    > “People will do stuff on the closest screen near them that is good enough.”

    Agreed.

    > 50% of Africa and Asia only access the internet on mobile.

    Interesting, and relevant.

    > “Clinging to desktop experience and ignoring mobile is like a record company clinging to CDs while digital passes them by.” Luke W.

    More interesting.

    > An entire generation of people starting to use the internet on mobile in Asia, Africa, etc. Kenya 20% of GDP happens on mobile devices. Mobile phones will overtake desktops as the most common web access devices worldwide by 2013.

    Even more interesting.

  5. @Carl

    1. Web standards largely negate the need to do this. Maybe you’ve not coded websites in a while?

    2. Automated unit tests are better and faster than having a “third party” test your code. Also, Apple can reject your app for fairly arbitrary reasons, not because it isn’t bug-free.

    3. Yes, native has more capabilities right now. But will that always be the case? I think not.

    4. What will we be using in the next decade besides HTML? Like it or not, it’s not going away. Knowing the state of the art in mobile web is a far better investment in the future than knowing iOS or Android.

  6. Uh-oh, Carl doesn’t get it. Surely deploying entirely different applications for every OS is the ultimate in an if-then-else construct.

    I’d argue some more but… you know

  7. Percentage worldwide traffic from mobile*:

    2008 – 0.6%
    2009 – 1.02%
    2010 – 2.94%
    2011 – 6%

    How do you get to more than 50% in just over 12 months time? Is there genuine analysis behind any of this or is it a case of “99% of stats are made up on the spot”.

    * figures from StatCounter

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