Friday, February 12, 2010

The Truth About Europe

Earlier this week I read yet another fascinating post by Peter-Paul Koch. In this post, @ppk takes on developers who think that developing for mobile just means developing for the iPhone. He points out that the iPhone has a small market share, in terms of number of devices being bought or in use. He tackles the obvious counter-argument that the iPhone dominates in terms of mobile Internet usage in the US. In particular he points out that the US does not matter, since Asia and Europe account for a much higher percentage of mobile users worldwide. He is completely right, but if you are a mobile web developer, these facts are completely irrelevant.

It does not matter how many mobile web users there are in North America, Asia, or Europe. This has no bearing on how you design your site or what kind of technologies you choose to adopt. All that matters are the users of your site and what kind of devices they use. There can be 100x more smartphones in Japan than in Spain, but if all of your users are in Spain, then you should not care about Symbian's market share in Japan.

For a lot of sites, it is very easy to figure out where their users are because they are not localized. If your site is focussed on Brazil, then it's a good bet that most of your users are in Brazil. For sites that are international, things get trickier. This is a problem that I have had to deal with at eBay. Fortunately my job was easier because we already had a mobile site that was setup almost ten years ago. It is designed to support all devices, from old school WAP devices all the way up to iPhones and Droids. It has a presence in all of the countries where eBay has a presence. So there I had a lot of data to use where I could say "this % of our users are using iPhones, this % are using Blackberries" etc.

Most people do not have this luxury. If you do not have a specialized site for mobile, you can still look at your server logs and figure out what mobile devices are being used to access your site. However, you should be cautious with this data. If you do not have a specialized site, chances are your main site does not work properly on a lot of devices (especially true if you use a lot of JavaScript.) So chances are your users that use those devices will not use your site from their devices. However, chances are that your site does work properly on an iPhone, even if it is far from optimized for it. So iPhone users may be over-represented in your data.  You might want to fall back to using X% of users are from A, Y% from B, and the devices breakdowns in A and B are... Now if your site relies on Flash...

Let's get back to the @ppk's post and the iPhone for a moment. He makes a nice analogy to IE6 back in the day. When doing analysis on mobile eBay traffic and our strategy for the future, I actually made a similar analogy. There is one huge difference. The iPhone's browser, Mobile Safari, has been a front-runner in adopting HTML 5 standards. If you are optimizing for the iPhone, there is a good chance that you are in fact using HTML 5 standards. In other words, optimizing for the iPhone does not mean adopting a plethora of technologies that are proprietary to Mobile Safari. It's just the opposite in fact. This is the fundamental difference between Mobile Safari today and IE6 circa 2002. That is not to say that there aren't some technologies that are unique to Mobile Safari. There are. However, those are the exception, not the norm. Most of the code that you could write for Mobile Safari that would not work on other mobile browsers is actually standardized APIs that other browsers simply have not yet implemented. So yes, you could be excluding users -- this is where you need to figure out what devices your users are using -- but you are not putting up an iPhone-only wall. You are putting up a wall, but it is a "modern device that supports web standards" wall.

1 comment:

Jason Borne said...

We are a third party technical support service. Avast Customer Support is here to help you out with the whole procedure to Download Avast Antivirus online, We not only fix your Avast Support related issues but will guide with how to get started with your new Avast product once it gets installed successfully.We at Avast Tech Support provides service to protect your PC from potential online threats and external attacks like viruses, Trojans, malwares, spywares and phishing scams. And Avast Refund. Call on our Avast Phone Number.

Gmail Customer service is a third party technical support service for Gmail users when they face any technical issue or error in their Gmail account. Our Gmail Customer Support team solves issues like forgot Gmail account password, Gmail configuration or Sync issues, recover deleted emails and many more. Toll Free number (800) 986-9271
How you install or reinstall Office 365 or Office 2016 depends on whether your Office product is part of an Office for home or Office for business plan. If you're not sure what you have, see what office com setup products are included in each plan and then follow the steps for your product. The steps below also apply if you're installing a single, stand-alone Office application such as Access 2016 or Visio 2016. Need Help with office setup Enter Product Key? Call 1-800-000-0000 Toll Free
Norton Tech Support is a third party service provider and not in any way associated with Norton or any of its partner companies. We offer support for Norton products and sell subscription based additional warranty on computer and other peripheral devices. Call our Toll Free number 1 855 966 3855
Other Services