dotMobi shines a light on mobile web fragmentation problems | Mobile Devices | Mobile Entertainment

dotMobi shines a light on mobile web fragmentation problems

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Zen Terrelonge

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Devices / Blackberry / November 7th 2012 at 1:24PM

Web specialist provides data from its device tracking platform to make brands and developers aware of the complexities involved with building sites for smartphones and tablets.

ME recently spoke to dotMobi's VP of engineering, Ronan Cremin, who explained the importance of brands knowing who their target customers are and the devices they use, comparing being unaware to painting in the dark.

As part of its mini-series with ME, the mobile web solutions firm has now provided information for the trends experienced across its goMobi web building platform, and stresses the depths of fragmentation...

Traffic for mobile sites in the UK coming through dotMobi’s mobile web platform, goMobi, shows continued fragmentation across the devices accessing the sites (referred to as accessing devices).

All major OSs are represented in the top ten accessing devices, alongside a range of screen sizes, resolutions, processing powers and device characteristics.

Tablets and smartphones are on course to account for more than 50 per cent of the mobile market in western countries, but the tablet market has just become even more fragmented with the 7.9-inch iPad Mini joining existing sizes like seven-inch, ten-inch and so on.

Of course, you also need to consider smartphone screens as big as 4.7-inches, and the fact that most devices work portrait and landscape forms.

Why does it matter?

As a web developer in this new reality, you need to know more about the devices that you are dealing with. You can no longer make naive assumptions about the device customers are using if you want your customer to have the best web experience.

To do any less than this is to fail to capture an audience segment, because as quickly as mobile web traffic grows, so mobile devices become increasingly fragmented. With a vast array of screen sizes, operating systems and capabilities, it is essential for your website to detect and react to the specific device each of your mobile visitors is using.

There are thousands of different models of mobile device (feature phones, smartphones, tablets) that are capable of accessing your website – we currently track over 9,500 in DeviceAtlas.

Fragmentation is driven not only by device diversity but also by the emergence of Android and iOS as the main native smartphone platforms for native apps. Add BlackBerry and Windows Phone into the mix on the OS side, and the thousands of different screen sizes, hardware and software capabilities and browser combinations for all the possible connected devices in use. Either way, it adds up to a very complex picture for content creators.

If you identify the handset used by each mobile visitor to your website, you can optimise their experience accordingly. This not only makes your customer’s visit as pleasant as possible, it also allows you to make assumptions about the visitor based on what handset they use and target services, promotions and advertising according to the handset type and its abilities.

Current Best Practice

The vast majority of the big web companies have a mobile strategy which embraces the diversity of the marketplace. For big brands, addressing their entire audience is what is important. The vast majority of the Alexa top 100 companies have a mobile website.

Outlook: continued diversity

All indicators suggest that fragmentation is on the rise. Ten years ago there was mobile or desktop – now there are countless devices bridging the gap, each with its own features and limitations. It's a very complex landscape for web developers to navigate, which suggests that device detection is going to become ever more important, regardless of how sophisticated browsers become.

It’s difficult to say whether the current mobile ecosystems will remain stable over the short to medium term much as Windows and Mac have emerged as the dominant players in the desktop space. Unlike the PC industry, there is no indication that two OSs will emerge.

Google's acquisition of Motorola Mobility may result in handset manufacturers needing a new OS. Hence, there will be new developments beyond Android. In essence, for as long as device manufacturers are in competition, they will differentiate and compete using all means at their disposal. What we are seeing today is not just R&D investment as a driver of creativity, but also the increased usage of patents in litigation.

For more information check out www.deviceatlas.com/whitepapers

For further information on what the big brands are doing check out the following articles:
https://deviceatlas.com/blog/anatomy-mobile-web-experience-googlecom
https://deviceatlas.com/blog/anatomy-mobile-web-experience-facebookcom

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