Going Mobile

by Kate Enright


There are now over 1.2 billion mobile Internet users worldwide. This exciting statistic means that business owners can no longer afford to ignore the rising tide of people accessing content via their phones and tablets. So where to from here? The next question many are asking is, mobile app, mobile site, or both?  Based on the content you need to display and the service you need to provide, this decision is an important one. One thing is for sure however, retailers and other business owners can no longer afford to neglect their mobile presence.

With the mainstream and global explosion of the smartphone over the past 3 years organisations have begun formatting their existing sites for mobile viewers, but the idea of going fully mobile with an app is definitely one more businesses are beginning to consider in order to make sure their content is shown in the best possible way. There are pros and cons to deciding to go for an app, such as the costly undertaking of development for both IOS and Android systems, compared to the across-the-board nature of mobile compatible sites.

The massive boom in smartphone sales has drastically changed the situation for high street retailers in particular. It’s their growing concern that the only thing mobile technology is doing for their industry is turning them into showroom floors for the likes of Amazon and eBay. Retailers are now preparing themselves for these changes and getting ready for mobile shoppers. In February 2012 Schuh released an astounding figure of 12% online sales through mobile devices for their store, stating that tablets drove 80% of mobile traffic to their site. This statistic indicates quite clearly a changing tide. With mobile commerce more than doubling since October 2009, over 38% of the smartphone population have now completed a purchase from their device. As more and more companies invest in mobile sites and develop technology to make shopping easier for consumers via sophisticated apps we will only see this figures spread out across the board. Schuh released a mobile app in March 2012 and with the proven overtaking of mobile sites for apps by consumers, this progressive thinking might just be what got them the impressive mobile sales figure we see above.

Designing a mobile-optimized website format works sufficiently to display content on a variety of different mobile devices, and in a number of mobile browsers. But there the functionality really ends. Mobile users have become accustomed to the accessibility, improved features and functionality that mobile apps have to offer, and judging by recent surveys, they are feeling that mobile websites simply no longer cut it. Nielsen Smartphone Analytics completed a test last year which tracked data from mobile devices, both on IOS and Android which were installed with meters. They found some quite interesting results. The average android user spends close to an hour a day online and using mobile apps a day, 67% of this time was spent using one app or another. Nielson also found that on all the smartphones analysed, in total, apps were used 85% of the time, with the web browser active just 15% of the time. On tablets, apps were 61% compared with 39% web browsing. These statistics should provide valuable insight for those considering app development for their business.

Last year Zokem released some more interesting stats which further back-up the results at Neilson. They found that apps, including maps, gaming, entertainment, productivity, and social networking, added up to an average of 667 total monthly usage minutes while web browsing was behind with 422 minutes in monthly activity. Yet further consolidating apps leadership in the app vs web debate.

These days, app developers seem to be coming out of the woodwork, backed it seems by the exciting startup culture now booming in Dublin. The likes of Tapadoo and Krunksoft to name a couple, have exciting future prospects and are eager to grow quickly and bring some much needed competition to the marketplace. Companies like this will ensure that the smaller businesses can work towards becoming fully mobile.

It is estimated that there will be 7.3 billion people on the planet in 2016 and that they will be using 10 billion mobile devices in all. In fact, the projected amount of additional Internet data movement for just 2015 will be three times the size of the entire current mobile Internet. So can anyone afford to ignore the facts? Businesses need to get mobile, they need to decide if an app could improve their offering, because if it could, it could mean the difference between falling behind or drastically improving customer interaction and sales.