The use of mobile phones, and smart phones specifically, is one of the most consistent and growing trends on the Internet. The dramatic market growth in smartphones over the past 2 years means that web browsing is increasingly on mobile phones (apart from the use of native apps). According to a report by Nielsen, smartphones will overtake feature phones in the US by this year (2011).
I decided to do some research on the ‘user agent’ data that we collect to see how this trend was playing out (the ‘user agent’ tells you the operating system and browser being used by someone that loads a page on your server). From this data, I used a service we set up (sourcing the open source WURFL database) to find out which of these user agent strings was for a mobile device.
There were two bits of data I thought would be interesting to pull out:
The data below is from the end of 2010 to July 2011 and shows the percentage of people actually completing a form page using a mobile device, and the percentage of people viewing a page using a mobile device. In other words, of all the people that completed a form, or viewed a page, what percentage did this on a mobile device. The data set is derived from about 500,000 transactions per month, and about 1.4 million page views.
The trend is absolutely clear, and given the continued growth in smartphone adoption, it’s going to keep climbing. With the form completion data from a mobile phone in July 2011 at almost 11% of the total transactions, I wouldn’t be surprised if it reaches 15% at the end of this year. Another bit of data I would like to pull at some stage is the percentage of these smartphone transactions that came from an email link (I suspect the percentage is extremely high).
Given this data, nonprofits need to make sure that they are optimizing outbound emails, email landing pages, and websites for mobile browsers. In a survey done amongst our clients at the end of 2010 only 17% confirmed any mobile optimization of their web pages!
The other data I pulled out was on the mobile browser. This data was very interesting as it showed the absolute dominance of Safari (running primarily on iPhone) at the beginning of the research period getting gradually eroded by a sharp increase in IEMobile. IEMobile runs on a number of different handsets, but it now represents almost 60% of the completed forms on our servers.
The trend doesn’t look like it will take a downturn anytime soon!