Tuesday, January 17, 2012

2012 - The Year for Mobile Websites & Location Based Services

Location: Dubai - United Arab Emirates
The outlook for 2012 sure looks the same for Microsoft when compared to what it was in the beginning of 2011 - with the weak computer sales eating into their business while it slowly tries catch up with the faster growning mobile phone and tablet markets.

"(It is) clear that investors will continue to need to be patient," Barclays Capital analyst Raimo Lenschow said in a research note on Friday. "There could be positive short-term momentum ... but we first need to see proper evidence of mobile/tablet success rather than just signs of hope."

Apple has previously told analysts to expect bumper revenues from the fourth quarter, driven by strong sales of its iPhone and iPad over Christmas. Retail data seems to have supported that. The PC sales slowdown, the second quarter in which sales shrank during 2011, shows Microsoft's weakness due to its lack of tablets to compete with Apple's iPad or devices running Google's Android software.

IDC reckons that about 23.6m tablets of all sorts – equal to a quarter of PC sales – will have been sold in the fourth quarter, principally in the markets such as North America and Europe where PC sales are shrinking and consumers are deciding not to replace their PC but instead getting a tablet, which costs less.

But Microsoft will not have a response there until it releases Windows 8, the newest version of Windows, later this year, which will be available on tablets as well as standard PCs.

While 2011 was the year brands warmed up to the idea of Social Media Presence and building brand value through conversations, the year 2012 will favour those brands that adopt mobile devices as an integral part of their media plan and PR strategy.

If you have a website, then you have a site that can be accessed by any mobile device with a browser. However, chances are, that site looks pretty crappy on said mobile device. Just as companies realized, around 1996, that they needed to create a website to remain relevant to consumers, history is repeating itself in mobile. By 2013, more people will use mobile phones than PCs to get online, according to Gartner. In mid-2011, we also reached the point at which consumers were spending more time on their mobile devices than on their PCs.

In such an environment, a site designed to be viewed on a desktop PC comes across as woefully lacking. Say you’re accessing such a site from the Safari browser on your iPhone. The first thing you’re likely to notice is that it takes a relatively long time to load. The second thing is that the type on the page is pretty small. It might take a lot of zooming and pinching to navigate the site as well. If you have Flash on your site, it’s not going to come across at all on an iPhone.

At that point, your potential customer may start looking around. According to a recent survey from Compuware, 40% of users have turned to a competitor’s site after a bad mobile experience.

46 percent of mobile web users are unlikely to return to a website that they had trouble accessing from their phone and 57 percent are unlikely to recommend the site.
Both PacSun and 1-800 Flowers have mobile website that render very well and are both thumb friendly and intuitive.
Incidentally, if you’re considering a mobile app rather than a mobile website, Jesse Haines, group marketing manager for Google Mobile Ads, says go for the website. “It really depends on the brand,” she says. “We think a mobile website is a must-have.” Haines says that for some brands, like news sites for instance, a mobile app makes sense, but otherwise, most users are going to look for you via their browser.

Native apps can take advantage of more hardware capabilities of a device and have tighter integration with some of the key components of a mobile OS, but web apps can be more easily ported to other types of devices and can really be beneficial in areas like iterative updates and user testing.

With HTML5 however, many of the system-level and device specific features can still be harnessed by a web app. Moreover, developers can build a base application in HTML5, yet still put it in a native wrapper so that it can take advantage of some native device capabilities.

However, as a general working figure, you can reach nearly five times as many people per dollar invested with a mobile website rather than a native mobile app.

Fab.com, which just launched in June and pushed out its first mobile apps for iOS and Android in October. In just three months, it said that 30 percent of its traffic is now on mobile. MyYearbook, a social networking site that was bought by Quepasa last year, said, thanks to a big holiday push, it now has 54 percent of its traffic coming in on mobile.

Online shopping destinations like eBay are seeing more and more sales via mobile devices. IBM said that 18.3 percent of all online sessions on retailers’ sites on Christmas were initiated from a mobile device, compared to 8.4 percent in 2010.

Meanwhile, Google is increasingly capitalizing on the growth of mobile searches by encouraging businesses to think mobile first. It has said that 44 percent of last minute holiday shopping searches was expected to be by mobile and 79 percent of smartphone users currently utilize their phones to help with price comparison, product searches and locating a retailer.

The fact is, thanks to smartphones and tablets, the way people are going to services and destinations is changing. People are accessing stuff all the time on the go and that requires developers and publishers to think mobile first.

There is still an obvious need for a traditional website but the shifting habits of consumption mean you can’t make mobile an afterthought. People notice if you’re not optimizing for mobile and ignoring mobile users and their experiences can cost publishers.

The term “2D code” is used to describe the category in general, not any specific type of code. Some of the most common types of 2D codes include Datamatrix, EZ Code, Microsoft Tag, QR Code, SPARQCode and ScanLife, among others.

Companies ranging from American Airlines to Sports Illustrated have used 2D codes to promote their products or services.

  • American Airlines placed 2D codes on outdoor boards in major airports to provide an immediate link to information for travelers on the go. Consumers who scanned the codes got real-time flight status, gate information and access to a reservation portal.
  • BestBuy has added QR codes to their in-store fact tags to give consumers the opportunity to review information about their products. Consumers can also save the information to review at home later or to buy the product instantly via smartphone and have it delivered to their homes later.
  • Sports Illustrated used a JAGTAG 2D code to allow readers of their annual swimsuit issue to watch bonus videos of some of their models directly on their smartphones.
  • Fox Broadcasting Company used QR codes to promote their TV show called Fringe. People who scanned the code were given a top-secret message that was available only to people who engaged with the show using their smartphones.
In virtually all of these cases, the 2D codes did something more than just drive people through to a standard mobile webpage. Instead, they gave the user a reason to interact with the mobile site and, in many cases, come back for more.

We’re already seeing more mobile apps and start-ups that are beginning on mobile and then looking toward online. But there’s still a long way to go for traditional websites, businesses and services to embrace mobile. With smartphone penetration expected to cross over 50 percent soon in the U.S. and adoption unlikely to slow down, it’s going to mean people going online through the small screen. Those who prepare for a mobile first world are going have the jump when it comes to attracting those consumers.

Market Share of Smartphones in the Middle East & Africa, compared with Global Figures
Click here to see the features and market share of the rival smartphones (pdf) or read the complete article at GulfNews.com here: