With ever-changing market trends, the Mobile Web is exploding onto the marketplace. For the commercial world this translates into new revenue opportunities, new communication forums and revolutionary new marketing possibilities. This Article clearly outlines the emerging opportunities on the Mobile Web and how businesses can, and have, best leveraged this.
The Internet is now more than a PC-based phenomenon; with close to 5 billion mobile phones worldwide, the reality is that many people’s first Internet experience will soon occur on a mobile device. As this trend evolves it is vital that the commercial world adapts with it, or faces being left behind. With mobile devices fast becoming the primary interface to the Internet, business opportunities are ripe. Here we will discuss the background to the Mobile Web, how a business can best leverage the opportunities available, the best practices of doing so, and the next generation of the Mobile Web.
The Mobile Web refers to Internet access on a mobile device. Due to the many usability issues and limitations associated with accessing the standard Internet on a mobile platform, many organizations support the “made for Mobile Web” concept. In essence, this is a world wide web specifically designed for access via a mobile device. The Mobile Web is all about discovering the right content when you need it.
Its advantages are obvious – information access whenever, wherever. However, three years ago the Mobile Web reached a crossroads when mobile browsing figures declined; this was due to a number of different accessibility issues. Now with improved access and industry standards in place, Mobile Web usage is accelerating. By 2010, the GSM Association predicts that 5 billion people will be connected to the Internet from mobile devices. All growth predictions indicate that usage will increase faster than the PC-based Internet. Therefore we are likely to see more than 150 million mobile websites by 2017.
The Mobile Web has now moved into the mainstream market, with a growing amount of information available to users on the move. It is now apparent that the Mobile Web is fast increasing the world’s overall use of the Internet. There are currently 4.7 billion mobile phones worldwide compared with less than 1 billion PCs. Mobile devices are fast becoming the primary interface to the Internet for the majority of users, and this “always available” communications service is providing value to a rapidly growing subscriber base. Recent studies carried out by the Online Publishers Association have shown that Mobile Web consumers are more likely male, in the 25 – 34 age bracket who have a medium level of income.
The Business Opportunity
This new media represents an excellent business opportunity and an obvious
focus for many companies is to ascertain the optimal strategy to engage
when utilizing this third screen medium. With mobile marketing now established over the Mobile Web, revolutionary marketing opportunities are at hand. Organizations can now engage their audience and more specifically target them, over the most personal medium available. Significant movements have also been made in the establishment of mobile commerce that extends beyond simple premium SMS. Notably in June 2006, Visa announced the launch of their first secure mobile payment system.
With alternatives such as PayPal also offering mobile payment services over
the Mobile Web, new business opportunities are materializing. New markets and new services represent new revenue opportunities. With many PC Internet based businesses already extending their services to the mobile realm; the remainder of the commercial industry are set to follow. New eco-systems are being established, with the mobile advertising market alone estimated to materialize into an $13 billion industry by 2011. Several mobile and Internet content providers have already recognized the opportunities and are reaping the benefits. Other revenue prospects, many mirroring that of the PC Internet, are finally materializing. due to the new secure payment systems that are becoming available. Progressive organizations are now establishing their presence on the Mobile Web.
MaxxumNets mobile services such as MaxxumNet.Com and MaxxumNet.Mobi, are allowing businesses to easily and cost-efficiently create a standards-compliant mobile website and then promote it, both on and off the Mobile Web. By establishing a Mobile Web presence, businesses are opening up a new
window of opportunity and are providing a richer user experience to their
mobile customers. One example is ESPN; this leading U.S. sports Channel
has a well-designed mobile website and is seeing a 200% year-on-year
increase in their mobile website visitor statistics.
However, if strick practices are not adhered to, potential pitfalls can occur. A poor mobile website portrays a bad impression of any company, potentially turning away customers. Companies must recognize that the needs of mobile browsers are different from PC Internet users. Based on knowledge of their customers, each company should focus their message, so that it is contextual to the mobile arena and targets their mobile browsers’ needs. This must be achieved while also keeping their brand identity and marketing message consistent with their other communication media. Any leading-edge company who has a poorly designed mobile website will not be credible. As with the PC Internet, it is vital that mobile websites are easily accessible and are optimized for search and discovery tools such as Google Mobile. Not surprisingly a lot of the initial traction in the Mobile Web space has already come from large corporate organizations and MaxxumNet is one company that has enabled many businesses to easily “Go Mobile” in minutes.
According to Marie Holloway, Product Marketing Manager at MaxxumNet; “The Mobile Web represents a new platform for business communication,
promotion and revenue generation. MaxxumNet has witnessed a huge surge in the uptake of the Mobile Web, particularly from businesses, both large and
small. All market niches are realizing the huge potential and striving to
establish their own viable business strategy across the Mobile Web.”
Let's take a Realtors mobile website for example. This mobile website will allow potential buyers to view property for sale while out in their cars looking at houses. The benefits of a mobile website in this market are clear and the website will be tailored to meet the specific needs of potential buyers on-the-move.
With technology constantly changing and the use of cell phones for web surfing growing on a daily basis, it isimportant to make sure home buyers and sellers have access to realtors sites no matter how they choose to surf the net.
Mobile sites get noticed and produce great responses with many leads a realtor never would have had without it.” Considering all of this information, one reality remains; the mobile device is a convenient and personal commodity, which represents an ideal third screen medium for initiating new business opportunities and delivering marketing messages globally.
Mobile Website Do’s and Don’t’s
Due to issues such as small screen sizes, slower download speeds and device incompatibility, industry standards around the Mobile Web are imperative. With the rush to create mobile websites we are seeing a wide variance in the quality of the websites created - from the captivating to the single static page. The W3C and dotMobi have both released guidelines for mobile website development. These are intended to communicate to website developers how to improve the user experience, thus ensuring that the Mobile Web is more reliable and accessible. The W3C guidelines are available at http://www.w3.org/TR/mobilebp/#
requirements; while dotMobi’s guidelines are available, subsequent to
registration, at http://dev.mobi/. The unique challenges inherent include:
* Size of screen on most mobile devices.
* Scrolling on a mobile phone.
* Typing on a mobile phone. In addition, there are wide variations in the capabilities of mobile devices; from the smallest mobile phone, to PDA handsets, to laptops with mouse and QWERTY capabilities.
The W3C and dotMobi guidelines include catering for these challenges as
well as a renewed focus on website efficiency. These key elements include:
* Minimizing the number of clicks. An additional click may be a minor irritation on a PC, but on a mobile phone it is a bigger issue, information is expected quickly.
* Reducing the number of kilobytes in each downloaded page.
* Delivering specific information. Mobile devices are currently less likely to be used for general browsing but more for retrieving specific information.
Key Elements to an Efficient Mobile Website
As with the early days of the PC Internet there are also some examples of poor mobile websites. In a survey carried out by the Online Publishers Association in 2007, the biggest user frustrations with the Mobile Web are:
1. Site Load Time.
2. Site Navigation.
3. User Friendliness.
4. Web Page Layout. Clearly, site load time can be improved by the telecom's providers providing additional bandwidth. However, companies can differentiate their websites from competitors by reducing page sizes and addressing the three remaining issues, where they have direct control. Another possible solution is to allow the user to customize the website so that each user is only sent the information relevant to them. Applications now exist to allow companies track what their customers do on their mobile website.
Reduce page size
Display specific information
Mobile development services such as MaxxumNet have the technology that allows anyone to have a Mobile Web presence that complies with the “W3C Mobile Web Best Practices”. This is essential as the mobile device is the user’s most
personal communication tool. Mobile phones are much less likely to be shared than PCs. Therefore the stakes are higher in terms of providing a good user experience. If a user’s time is wasted on their mobile phone, they are less likely to be forgiving. Mobile Websites We Can Learn From Good websites which display efficient and valuable information to their users encourage repeat visits and are more effective. One good example is MaxxumNet.mobi, we present a fairly large amount of information in a user-friendly manner. Simple efficiencies such as having the main menu at the bottom of each page help reduce the number of clicks and improve the user experience.
A case study detailing Sony BMG’s efficient use of a mobile website is detailed below. As with the PC Internet, it is vital for users to be able to search and discover other mobile websites. Applications such as MaxxumNet's upcoming Directory Services are essential for effective use of the Mobile Web. Just like the PC based
Internet, the success of any website depends on easy discovery by their targeted customer base. Many large and small companies have recognized the important of having a Mobile Web presence and have their own mobile website:
* Google: http://google.mobi
* BMW http://bmw.mobi
* The Weather Channel: http://weather.mobi/
* RTE: http://rte.ie/pda
* You’re A Star Reality Show: http://star.rte.ie
ESPN have also developed a highly successful mobile website and can be
found at http://espn.mobi . This is an excellent example of how the Mobile
Web can be leveraged to achieve corporate goals. An AdAge.com article,
titled “More Football Fans Hit ESPN's Mobile Site than Its PC Pages” (Jan
2008), discusses the tremendous take-up of the website. Significantly
ESPN’s mobile website has received more traffic than its PC website on
multiple occasions. Such is the success of ESPN’s mobile website that, of
the 32 million people who access the mobile web regularly in America, 9
million of them access ESPN’s mobile website. ESPN now caters for 44%
of the users accessing sports information on the Mobile Web; thus
highlighting the benefits that can be obtained from a well-designed, user friendly mobile website.
The Future for Mobile Websites
According to John Tysoe, the founder of Mobile World (June 2007), “It took over 20 years to connect the first billion subscribers [to the fixed Internet], but only 40 months to connect the second billion. The 3 billion milestone past in July 2007, just two years on”. With other experts, such as Google CEO Eric Schmidt, recently predicting a “huge revolution” in the Mobile Web space, a bright future looks certain.
Statistical predictions for the Mobile Web also indicate fast growth, with the demographic of Mobile Web users being much more that a teen phenomenon.
For any new media advertising is one of the main commercial drivers. There
are many predictions for the size of the global market. Informal, Strategy
Analytics and ABI have separately estimated the mobile advertising market
to be between $11b and $19b by 2011. Over the past year, the introduction of the iPhone onto the market has caused a considerable stir in the industry, some suggesting it would be to the detriment of the future of the Mobile Web, many believing it serves a different purpose to a more niche market. While the iPhone offers the full Internet on a handheld device, this also throws up numerous usability issues. The Mobile Web offers convenient made for mobile content that is truly
optimized for a mobile device.
With many large companies continuing to be proactive and progressive in their strategy towards the Mobile Web, the future looks bright. Companies such as T-Mobile provide added value to their customers by offering exciting Mobile Web services such as their “Web’n’Walk” package. TMobile conducts ongoing research into services that can increase the value proposition of this offering. Realizing the market potential in Mobile Web services, T-Mobile (the Netherlands) has extended their “Web’n’Walk” package. Market penetration is also a key consideration when examining the future of the Mobile Web. In the US, the penetration of Mobile Web-enabled devices is 29%. This correlates with the penetration of Internet-ready PCs in 1996; 12 years later, this figure now stands at over 75%.
According to Stacey S., CEO of MaxxumNet, “Even the most conservative predictions show the Mobile Web to be a massive growth market over the next 3 years. MaxxumNet has partnered with several key players in the industry to ensure services like MaxxumNets will be the de facto standard for Mobile Web creation, discovery and management”. Based on key industry studies, MaxxumNet predicts the next 10 years of the Mobile Web will take a similar path to the last 10 years of the fixed Internet.
New technologies and services will be instrumental in the next big upsurge in Mobile Web usage. The introduction of Google’s mobile device, Android, will also have a significant effect on what is developed for the Mobile Web and how it is developed. By opening up mobile platforms, new and exciting technologies can be expected that offer a more enjoyable consumer experience, with greater business benefits to be reaped.
Statistics indicate that the Mobile Web is growing at a faster rate than was seen in the 1990s for the fixed Internet. According to Informal, new services and technologies will be instrumental in breaking down the barriers to Mobile Web adoption and building an estimated 3 billion Mobile Web usage market by 2010.
Companies with standards-compliant optimized websites will clearly
obtain a competitive advantage. The realized benefits of developing a mobile website include:
* Enforced brand awareness.
* New communications method via the world’s most personal technology.
* New business and revenue possibilities Worldwide, mobile phone penetration rates are expected to surpass the 70% mark in 2010. With penetration figures in excess of 100% being reported in many industrialized countries, it is evident that the mobile device is about to become the dominant interface to the Internet. Consequently, it is also apparent that every company needs to have a mobile presence. Not just technical oriented companies but now, with potential customers actively using the Mobile Web, non-technically focused businesses have to cater for the mobile market.
Potential customers surfing the Mobile Web will be more disposed to companies who have mobile websites that they can easily find and view. It cannot be a one-size-fits-all approach. Companies must target specific demographic groups with information and applications that meet the needs and fire the imaginations of the users. As with the PC Internet, MaxxumNet fully expects there to be a number of challenges in the growth of the Mobile Web.
Key applications for social interaction, and mobile website search and discovery, such as MaxxumNet Directories, are predicted to be a vital catalyst for the expected explosion of the Mobile Web onto the market.
For this explosion, all entities in the eco-system must take account of the following “Calls to Action”:
* The continued development of mobile devices that allow the user easy access to the Mobile Web, both in terms of hardware and software functionality and usability.
* User education in the creation of mobile websites and the ability to search and discover relevant mobile websites.
* Adherence to standards and guidelines. For example, the W3C and the dotMobi guidelines for mobile site development.
* Stricter security for -commerce similar to e-commerce. This will enhance the value of the Mobile Web to the user.
* Encouraging use of the Mobile Web to accelerate the inevitable progress of the Internet-in-your-pocket.
MaxxumNet's clients have mostly stated that they found us
while searching for a suitable technology partner to design our first promotional mobile website. MaxxumNet offered the standards compliant services we were looking for”.
From the mobile website, the user could discover information about your company as well as imporrtant dates. In addition site visitors could enter their name to join your mailing list.
MaxxumNet's mobile campaigns are for the most part huge successes with hundreds total banner advertisement click-through’s, and close to 20,000 page impressions over an six month advertising period.
The core values of the mobile website included:
Having a mobile website engages the audience since they can constantly keep up-to-date with information and specials that are important to them.
* Your PC website, coupled with the banner advert, raises awareness among the target market before and after its release date.
* Encouraging awareness of your company and your products, services as well as location and important dates will garner you new clients and customers.
* Having the names and email addresses of visitors, facilitates future solicited marketing campaigns. Your website complimented with a mobile site is an extremely good example of how clients and customers can be targeted effectively and efficiently drive awareness and revenue for both you and your business.
“MaxxumNet’s success and innovation in the Mobile Web industry has been well acknowledged by the members of the dotMobi Advisory Group as well as through their direct commercialization efforts.” states Michael J. O’Farrell, Chair and Executive Director of the dotMobi Advisory Group. “To remain at the forefront of Mobile Web and mobile Internet developments, the team at MaxxumNet have really understood the value of industry best practices and published standards by diligently incorporating them into all their product and service offerings.”
If you are looking for a guaranteed directory of mobile websites, a discovery and social bookmarking service, or bespoke mobile advertising solutions; MaxxumNet can deliver. MaxxumNet is currently working to break down the barriers to mobile web adoption, by building a directory service of 1 million mobile websites. A user can discover mobile web content, bookmark and share it with friends and family, then submit their mobile website for specialized directory listing. Not only will MaxxumNet break down the barriers to mobile web adoption, we also seed entry into the mobile web by providing a mobile web presence creation service. Combining both Web2.0 and mobile Web2.0 technologies, MaxxumNet can bring the mobile Operator a pre-established community of mobile web users and content, and the solutions to develop their own local directories.
MaxxumNet are working with a number of Canadian, USA and European mobile Operators and are actively involved with our clients to define best practices and best models for mobile advertising.
For further information:
Mobile Web: http://MaxxumNet.mobi
Call Toll Free 1.800.757.4712