By Martin Clancy
Anyone who has been watching mobile closely over the past year or so will know that mobile Web has made a resurgence vis-a-vis the hype that surrounded apps since the app stores rose to prominence. App mania now seems reminiscent of the initial dotcom bubble, with many recent reports casting doubt on the ability of all but the top third of apps to ever generate significant revenues or even downloads.
The creation of native apps for the SMB (Small to Medium Business) are widely seen as too expensive, and unnecessary for small to medium businesses. For example, Alastair Thornton, head of digital at UK local advertising firm Thomson Local feels that apps are unlikely to scale to the amount of downloads and ongoing use to justify their cost. Issues such as discoverability, cost of production across multiple platforms. The lack of any real justification for (often simple) content and functionality to be presented as a native app were consistently cited as reasons SMBs should concentrate on mobile websites rather than competing in the crowded native apps space in research dotMobi carried out with BIA Kelsey.
The web by contrast remains by far and away the most popular (and searchable) way that people connect with information on mobile devices. In May, the Obama administration published a far reaching document mandating federal agencies to make mobile web-friendly versions of their websites.
Yes there will be room for native apps, but pound for pound, native apps can never equal the cross-platform and cross-device reach that mobile web can deliver. Most larger brands and corporates have already adopted a mobile web strategy that takes advantage of this fact by providing device specific experiences based on the web platform.
However, delivering content on the mobile web is still not easy. Optimizing mobile web content well for speed, and presentation, no matter what device the consumer is using and what connectivity constraints they are under, is challenging. Implementing a mobile strategy depends on a lot of variables, not least the resources you can muster to tackle what is a hugely fragmented and complex environment. What level of control you require over platform-specific publishing or how wide an array of devices you wish to support are questions that need careful planning based on sound analytics.
Many larger corporates and brands we work with at dotMobi care deeply about maximising their reach and catering to all their customers. They have a need to build their own mobile strategy that addresses their unique customer and business requirements. On mobile that typically means dealing with significant diversity in terms of devices and platforms. The Guardian, for example, recently shared that 1,857 different device types accessed their site in a week. Which strategy mix companies adopt – native apps, mobile sites, responsive, mobile first etc– will depend on their unique set of circumstances.
dotMobi’s purpose in all of this is to provide a range of tools to help customers make this journey. If you care about maintaining control over reaching all your customers in a fast, efficient and scalable way, with the ability to optimize and adapt content server-side, then server side device detection is a tool you’ll want to consider to achieve that. For companies that want a high level of control over their mobile web strategy, or indeed help others to do so, we provide DeviceAtlas, a real time device detection and intelligence solution. We also provide a range of test tools including mobiReady and Prism.
If you are a small to medium business with limited time and budget to spend on figuring mobile out, we provide goMobi to help you create a mobile presence quickly, easily and cost effectively, without the need for technical expertise in development or design. goMobi is a web based tool that can be used to build a mobile-friendly site that includes many made for mobile features like click to call, maps and directions, and deep integration into social networking tools so that small business can harness the power of mobile to benefit their business. Sites render flawlessly on thousands of mobile devices including tablets, smartphones and non-smartphones because we have embedded device awareness into goMobi. If you or your customers need to create a mobile presence without doing the heavy lifting from a technical and design perspective, then goMobi might just be an option you should look at.