Are we at a tipping point with mobile?
Some people seem to think so … especially now that smart phone penetration in the US has overtaken feature phone penetration for the first time. This means that we should all stop developing for the desktop web and start developing for the mobile web exclusively. Right? Well not exactly.
A careful review of the data suggests this is premature in most geographies, including the US. There are exceptions of course, for example if your company makes mobile applications for a living and sells them only through the Apple, Android, or another type of storefront like these. Then having a desktop website may not make sense. But for most of us the desktop web remains our publishing platform of choice, the place we publish content first, and then use responsive design and/or other methods to make some or all of that content available on mobile.
Here’s the research I looked at that led me to that conclusion:
- Chetan Sharma Consulting, Annual State of the Global Mobile Industry | April 2012 Data and strong interpretation of what the data tells us. Worth reading cover to cover.
- Global mobile statistics | June 2012
Round up from multiple sources
- Ericcson Traffic and Market Report | June 2012
Surveys carriers and provides a 5-year forecast
Relatively new site that rounds up otherwise hard to find data on mobile.
- Connected Europe: How Smartphones and Tablets are Shifting Media Consumption – January 2012
Comscore study based on its proprietary sample. Free for download.
- Our Mobile Planet – Germany | May 2012
Google did the same smart phone survey in multiple countries and came to much the same results in each country, which seems a bit suspect to me. This looks and feels like advertising versus value added content. Useful as a source of data on smart phone market share (penetration) by country.
Summary of Learning
We are not yet at a tipping point where it makes sense to develop for the mobile web ONLY and forego developing content for viewing from a desktop computer. The major issue seems to be China and India, both of which are large markets, both of which are rapidly adopting smart phones, both of which are putting in the infrastructure to support always on and high-speed networks. However, the low-end of these markets remains on feature phones. What this means for your content development needs? It depends on who and what you are targeting. For the next 5 years (at least), we expect to see content developed for the desktop web AND the mobile web. Not for the mobile web alone.
What do you think?