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The Move to Mobile - The World is Changing Fast

     Do you prefer a PC or Mac (I'll use PC) or do you prefer and iPad or Nexus (I'll use tablet) or do you prefer your iPhone or Samsung Galaxy (I'll use phone)? (N.B. Tablet and phone together I'll call mobile).

Now what kind of question is that for us to be asking?

Actually it's quite an important one for all businesses that use the internet or the web for the marketing or delivery of their products or services.

Because what we use and how we use it is changing dramatically and is set to change even more.

Just a few years ago people had a PC and a rather clunky - as they seem now - phone that allowed them to make a call or text. For many users today their main 'computer' is not a PC but their smartphones which goes everywhere with them. But, despite getting smarter, phones are too small to replace PCs and the device that bridges the gap between PCs and phones is the tablet.

You've seen an iPad but actually it's Google's android system that's making a lot of the running in both tablets and phones and according to a recent report by Asymco "the day when the tablet market (by units) will exceed that of traditional PCs will come sometime in the fall of 2013".

This market is being driven by a number of factors, some technical, some business and cost related and some social:

Superfast broadband
Increasing wifi availability
4G phones
Increased workforce mobility and improved mobile apps
The cost of print and updates v tablets
TVs becoming networked
Music, video, games and reading apps
Increased cloud computing at low cost

However, tablets must be put in perspective. Forrester has forecast that by 2016, a total of 375m tablets will be sold globally and 760m already in use, but there will be 2bn PCs in use by 2016, despite growing tablet sales. That's because tablets only partially cannibalise PCs. Eventually tablets will slow laptop sales but increase sales of desktop PCs because many people, especially information workers, will still need conventional PCs for any intensely creative work at a desk that requires a large display or significant processing power.

Then again that must be put in perspective by phones. Between now and 2016 Cisco expects smartphones to go from 586m to 1.74bn units.

However, you look at it change wins and business will have to adapt as increasing tablet and phone use will affect the way people search and shop.

Research has shown that mobile search increases towards the end of the working day and before bed. During the day desktop searches are more popular. For people who are tied to their desk that may continue, but as tablets and phones become more prevalent the number of searches on them is bound to increase and mobile web surfing is predicted to overtake desktop searching by 2015.And research has also shown that phone and tablet search also happens at home and even while other devices are being used, such as watching TV or, quite surprisingly, even when using a computer.

What should you do about this change?

The most important thing to do is to understand from your analytics how many mobile visits you are getting on site and some more details about the operating system etc. If the answer is that you get very little mobile traffic then obviously you have to ask the question as to whether to do anything special for mobile. Some companies will never get much mobile use and just need to make their desktop sites less insufferable on small screens.

But if your site appeals to mobile users, then you have to ask whether you should produce a mobile website or develop special mobile apps. The answer to this question is crucial to costs and success.

At present apps win if you can afford them. Studies have shown that users prefer apps to mobile sites because only limited optimization is possible during website design whereas an app can overcome the specific limitations of each device much better - things such as tiny screens, slower connectivity, worse interaction (typing, inability to double-click or hover) and less precision from the fat-finger problem. But, there is the cost issue. The expense of mobile apps is quite high and you have to support Android, iOS, Windows Phone and maybe more.

Mobile sites have more cross platform compatibility and new ways of doing things such as responsive web design and HTML 5 will definitely improve mobile site capabilities. A mobile site strategy also gives better integration with the rest of the web as it's much easier for others to link to a site than to integrate with an app. The Internet beats a smaller, closed environment and is better for e-commerce, company websites etc. that don't require heavy data manipulation.

So, there is simple answer (this is the real world!). Some companies will need to build apps and mobile sites. Some won't need the apps or will consider them to costly for the benefit.

Richard Hill is a director of E-CRM Solutions - a Bath based web design and internet marketing agency and has spent many years in senior direct and interactive marketing roles. E-CRM helps you to grow by getting you more customers that stay with you longer.

Richard Hill is a director of E-CRM Solutions and has spent many years in senior direct and interactive marketing roles. E-CRM helps you to grow by getting you more customers that stay with you longer.

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Richard Hill is a director of E-CRM Solutions - a Bath based web design and internet marketing agency and has spent many years in senior direct and interactive marketing roles. E-CRM helps you to grow by getting you more customers that stay with you longer.

Posted on 2012-12-17, By: *

* Click on the author's name to view their profile and articles!!!

Note: The content of this article solely conveys the opinion of its author.

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