12 for 12 #11: Mobile web is the new web

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12 for 12 #11: Mobile web is the new web

At the start of year we made 12 predictions for 2012 and we’ve been keeping a watching brief since to see how we’re doing. This month James Hull, Development Manager at Science Warehouse, reviews his prediction that ‘Mobile web is the new web’.

When asked by colleagues for predictions for 2012, at the start of the year as part of our ’12 for 12’ series, one thing that was apparent for me would be the emergence of 'mobile first' as a web strategy - treating mobile as the first consideration for your website rather than an adjunct or afterthought.

Surveys such as Mobile Web Watch Survey 2012 show the following trends which underline my prediction:

  • Growing use of mobile Internet: particularly in Africa and South America.
  • More personal than work-related use: 57% of respondents in the UK accessing the Web on a smartphone did so for personal matters (higher than the average of 58% for all countries) against 16% for work-related matters.
  • Gen X and ageing consumer showing growing appetite for mobile over Internet: 80% of the UK respondents in the 14-29 age bracket accessed the Internet on a mobile device. For those above 50, at least 43% were involved in such activities against the average of 47% for all countries.
  • There is an app for everything: at least 56% used their mobile device to access online communities such as Facebook. Mobile banking growth is also evident with 40% using a mobile device to conduct a banking transaction. In total, 69% of mobile Internet users have downloaded programs or apps on their mobile device.
  • Videos on mobile grabbing eye balls: 49% of the users downloaded or viewed short videos of less than five minutes.
  • Quality is king: respondents ranked quality of network as the most important factor in choosing a network provider for mobile Internet access. Cost of data is ranked the fourth-most important factor.
  • Data security concerns impede mass adoption: 69% of mobile Internet users are worried about data security while 18% perceive the monthly cost of accessing the Internet on their mobile devices to be higher than expected.
  • Opportunity to make money with new services: 80% of respondents are interested in premium technical services and 66% in consumer cloud services. Respondents are willing to pay for them, with nearly 60% willing to pay up to $10.
  • Olympic effect: the BBC reported that its content was consumed across computers, mobiles, tablets as well as TV throughout the day. People are getting used to content being truly on demand wherever they are and whenever they want.

Increasing smartphone adoption, 4G broadband and greater ranges of websites and apps optimised for the mobile experience will only continue these trends through 2013.

Trends in web design are also maturing for mobile. The idea of Responsive Web Design - the approach of altering the layout of a screen depending on the "viewport" size (i.e. if the browser window is small it's likely to be a smartphone) is now just standard web design practice. What is coming is a greater degree of sophistication with hybrid and tablet devices (e.g. Microsoft Surface, next generation iPads) that actually have quite large resolutions but are interacted with in an entirely different way that a traditional mouse and desktop set up.

In conclusion, the trends we see in not just the web but the entire focus of the Internet away from desktops and laptops to mobiles and other connected devices will only accelerate as these technologies improve. Mobile is much more accessible, particularly in the developing world, and it is this potential which will drive the connected future literally into our hands.

- James Hull, Development Manager, Science Warehouse

See how we did with our previous prediction: ‘12 for 12 #10: Social media will take off in the workplace’


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