In this day and age, almost everyone has a smartphone or tablet device. Many, like me, will use multiple devices at differing times depending on where they are and what they are doing. In fact the UK are leading the rest of Europe in new technology ownership according to recent results of an IAB UK study. 59% of UK adults now own a smartphone compared with an European average of 44%. This hunger for mobile technology is also seeing a rise in tablet ownership as it is estimated 12% of UK adults now own one and 20% say they are interested in purchasing one very soon.
The Mobile Web
The mobile web has really only been functional since the original iPhone was launched in 2007. Since then alternative handsets and tablets have gradually arrived on the scene. Five years later and mobile web visit numbers are growing much bigger and faster. I now use my own mobile devices to browse sites much more than my desktop programmes and expect that most brands will have a mobile optimised or specific mobile site. If a brand hasn’t developed a mobile optimised site it now affects my perception of its values and market position and greatly influences my personal purchasing decision. Compared with Q1 2012, websites this quarter have seen an average increase of 26% in mobile and tablet visitors. Breaking it down, this means that by June 2012, one in five of all website visits were made using a smartphone or tablet.
Analysing the Statistics
Due to a change in Google’s analytics, iPhone and iPad traffic is becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish between, so the combined statistics are used when measuring website unique visits. With over 1 million visitors in June 2012 and accounting for 75% of mobile visits, iOS is still very much the dominant platform. Comparatively Android had close to 400,000 mobile visits in June with an impressive gain in the last quarter increasing its share of mobile visits to 20%. BlackBerry’s share crept up to 3.6% with just under 50,000 visits in the same period. Not only does Apple have the majority share but results have shown that engagement by users is also higher when using an Apple device. Interestingly Windows phone devices have surpassed Android on average pages per visit. This could possibly be due to the Windows partnership with Nokia, although the success of Nokia’s new Lumia range remains to be seen.
Multi Screen Viewing
Recent IAB research has found that currently 62% of UK smartphone users ‘dual screen’ using a tablet or smartphone while watching TV. This is a sharp increase from the figure of 27% in 2010. This shows our need to search and communicate while we watch, and that touch screen mobile devices are proving better for the job than desktops. Although it is important to remember that different devices are being adopted as tools for specific internet activities in specific environments. While watching Question Time I use my tablet device to track public opinion and audience comments via #BBCQT. During the Olympics Opening Ceremony, I could see immediate public reaction to Danny Boyle’s masterpiece by monitoring Twitter trending topics and watching the Olympics competitions became a multi-screen viewing activity, seeing what was being shown on TV as well as monitoring Twitter and Apps for medal results elsewhere. Looking to tomorrow brings new additions to our toolkits, such as Google Glasses, Smart Windows and flexible displays giving us access to the web the moment we need it.
Consumers are using tablets and smartphones to pick up their emails, increasingly only reading them on these devices. Therefore mobile optimisation is vital, both for email and websites, and with the growth in tablet ownership, we should now add tablet specific optimisation. Responsive design can be used to program an email so that it can be viewed in the correct format on whichever platform it is opened from. With this multi-screen world, this is surely the future for email and website design?