From a talk I gave at RefreshPhoenix on January 5th, 2009.
From 1999 to 2004, the number of mobile subscribers in Africa jumped from 7.5 to 76.8 million1, an average annual increase of 58 percent. Asia, the next fastest-expanding market, grew by an annual average of 34 percent in that period.
In the first half of 2006, Nokia delivered 153 million mobile devices2 to consumers, out-shipping the entire PC industry by a factor of close to three.
By the end of 2006, there were almost 50 device makers churning out Windows Mobile devices3. The really small and compact ones ones with full QWERTY keyboards.
Apple launched the iPhone on June 29th, 2007 and sold 270,000 iPhones in the first 30 hours4 alone. By the end of Q4 2007, they sold 1,389,000 iPhones5. In 2008, they sold over 10 million6.
Google launched the G1 on October 22nd, 2008. As of this writing, neither Google nor T-Mobile have released any official numbers, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they’ve activated close to a million devices.
-webkit-transition family of properties.
So it looks like your mobile device will run the same stack of web technologies as your personal computer.
This is great news, right? There’s just one small problem.
M-Metrics, mobile research firm, released a report on mobile content consumption. 85% of iPhone users browse the web on their phones vs. 58% of Smartphone (Windows, Symbian, Blackberry) vs. 13% of the overall US mobile market. Download.
Why is that? Because designing for the mobile web isn’t just about designing your existing website around form factor constraints. It’s convenient to think that building a mobile website means taking what you have, and making it work on a smaller form factor. This is frustrating for users because they don’t need or want the full blown experience.
Users on mobile devices are moving around. They’re environment is constantly changing. They’re eating at restaurants, walking through customs, working out at the gym, getting a hair cut, bargain hunting, checking up on the latest movie times while their date is in the restroom, or checking up on movie times while in the restroom.
A user behind a personal computer with 24 tabs open on their browser behaves differently than a user on a hot date. Your users are hard real-time systems that need information extracted with surgical precision.
When designing for mobility, design for users on the move. Design for their context. That’s the key to building a successful mobile application.
The W3C has a Mobile web best practice document which suggests that the mobile experience should be specifically designed in mind for your end users.
Apple’s Safari, Google’s Chrome, Adobe’s AIR.↩