Five years back, smartphones and iPhones were a luxury limited to business hotshots and swanky entrepreneurs. But not anymore! Today, smartphones are being used by even the common man. And mind you it’s not just the talking and texting that today’s common man is doing with smartphones. He is accessing internet through it – popularly called the mobile web.
Wiki states that the usage of mobile web has increased from 4% in December 2010 to 10.5% in June 2012. A research by International Data Corporation (IDC) revealed that the total number of mobile web users grew from 2 billion in 2010 to 2.7 billion in 2015 – a growth of 16.6% CAGR.
What these figures indicate is that the mobile usage has skyrocketed in the past 2 years. And with this growth, the mobile web has risen to new heights. Enterprises are looking at mobile as a potential business platform. They are making their websites and applications mobile compatible. Technologies like HTML5 and CSS are making mobile apps development cross-browser compatible.
A quick overview revealed that today’s mobile users are using mobile web for variety of things.
Mobile Communication: Mobile communication includes email, instant messaging, Skype access, video streaming, etc. Email tops the chart in terms of mobile web usage. Popular interactive apps like Skype have enhanced the business value of mobile web.
Social Networking: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn have all found takers on mobile. People are now updating their status, sharing photos, leaving comments, and connecting with their friends through mobile web.
M-Commerce: Online shopping through mobile compatible websites and apps is another popular activity of mobile web. There is a niche class of people who are buying things on-the-go through mobiles. Simplified checkout processes of m-commerce have further driven users to m-commerce.
M-Payment: Payment gateways, fund transfer processes, and banking transactions have become mobile friendly. Day by day the number of people using mobile platform for financial transactions is on the rise.
M-Search: Interestingly the number of search hits on mobile web is predicted to soon overtake the number of PC based search hits. Reason – the easy availability and convenience of operating a mobile device.
Location / Preference Based Services: The on-the-go workforce of enterprises is using location based services of mobile web. They are setting their preferences to location, gender, age, profession, etc to get info on new cities, products, services, and whatnot. They are using maps, mobile GPS, weather forecast apps, etc.
It is interesting to note that mobile web has grown tremendously in a comparatively very short time. Industry thought leaders also are of the opinion that mobile web has earned a definitive edge over PC based web. This growth is fueled by factors like:
* Easy access and convenience of using mobile
* No booting time lapse as compared to laptops and PCs
* Lower costs of buying high-end smartphones
* The unimaginably large number of mobile users
* Developer fraternity’s fascination with mobile platform
* Large number of mobile compliant web apps
However, just like any other platform mobile is also fraught with certain challenges. The most common ones are limited screen size and cross platform compatibility of apps. Small screen size of mobile devices means limited visibility of web apps. You need to either condense the design or add a scroll which is again not advisable. However HTML 5 seems to have answered this challenge. With HTML 5 we can now develop websites with flexible width.
Secondly, we have different mobile platforms like Android, iOS, Windows Mobile etc. A web app developed for one platform may not work on the other. This limits the usage of an app to a class of platform users. But again here we have technologies like PhoneGap that are enabling cross-platform development.
With all said and done, there is a unanimous industry-wide consensus that there is no stopping mobile web now. The time is right to jump the bandwagon with mobile compatible web apps. The future is bright and promising.
Image by Stephen Poff
Part of my on the road photoblog from Thanksgiving 2009