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October 13, 2011

Has the Age of Mobile Finally Arrived?

According to Nielsen, 40% of all mobile phones in the U.S. are smartphones, which are poised to overtake feature phones later this year, and although tablets are showing only a 5% penetration, as the cost of entry falls and Amazon throws its hat into the tablet ring, smart money is on a boom in the next few years. If you've been holding out on designing for mobile over the last few years, your time is up.

The good news is that your mobile site doesn't necessarily have to do the same things your website does. The bad news is that it could take some serious sleuthing to figure out what it does need to do.

The challenge for designers is that this is all very time consuming. Each platform is inherently different and has its own strengths and weaknesses. You can do some things better on a PC because of the additional space. You can do some things better on a smartphone because it's with you and connected when you need it. 

The market for personal computers is still growing in a down economy -- partly because it's still highly relevant for enterprise use, and partly because the market maturity leads to lower costs of entry than newer technologies. Along with the fact that it is a known quantity with established home and business uses, its low cost of entry makes it a safe bet people in the market for a new device. In short, the PC will evolve, but it is not going away anytime soon.

However, as more people adopt these mobile technologies, their expectations for a good experience will not deminish. If anything, they will demand better and eschew those experiences that do not take into account their mode of arrival.

If you want to attract planes, first build a runway.

If you want to attract people with enough disposable income to risk on a trendy device, build a remarkable experience for them for that device -- and give them the ability to share. 

Next time, I'll write about three mobile strategies to consider when planning your mobile presence:

  1. Duplication
  2. Replacement
  3. Displacement

- Cam Beck


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