Mobile Web Is No Longer Special

If you own a website I’ll bet some marketing ding-dong already told you about the importance of the mobile web. In fact I’ll bet someone beat you over the head with it.

Perhaps someone showed you WAP in 2001 and told you it was the wave of the future. This [WAP] is [WAP] going [WAP] to [WAP] change [WAP] everything [DUCK]. Enough with the [WAP]!! It hurts my head.

WAP died and nobody mourns it.

Perhaps you’ve heard about iMode and how it’s taken Japan by storm. It’s more popular than oxygen, by golly.

Of course we all know that most websites have ignored mobile. Some big companies built special sites for the limited browsers, with cut down content. Few people use them, simply because those browsers are too limited and the user experience too poor.

When you heard all the hype around the iPhone, perhaps you thought to gather some data and find out exactly how many people are visiting the site using a mobile browser. You login to Google Analytics and you find it’s zero, and bury the whole idea. You didn’t get sucked into the Mobile Web hype and not even Steve Jobs is going to convince you to try.


You shouldn’t be surprised that mobile web use appears to be zero. There are two very good reasons:

  1. Many mobile web browsers don’t properly support JavaScript, and since Google Analytics collects its data through JavaScript, those devices don’t show up in the reports, even if the users are busy accessing your website all day long. iPhones do support JavaScript and are tracked, but….
  2. The iPhone browser is a variant of Safari, also used on MacOS. The iPhone data is therefore hidden inside the Safari chunk of the pie.

iPhones are different

Should you care about iPhone access? Yes, for two very good reasons:

  1. iPhone users have money
  2. They are likely to lookup local listings while on the go, from the iPhone. See my restaurant example in this video interview with Dr. Ralph Wilson.

What’s the answer? Do (almost) nothing. Your website probably works just fine on an iPhone because the Safari browser takes care of just about everything. I predict all other mobile devices will have improved browsers that work equally well. The mobile web is rapidly changing from an occasional use when you have no alternative, to a standard web experience which just happens to fit in your pocket. The most you need do is borrow an iPhone and check your site loads OK, and fix any small problems. Consider cutting back on the graphics if it’s really slow. That’s about all.

You can be secure in the knowledge that you avoided getting caught up in the early mobile web hype by doing nothing, and the same thinking allows you to ride the second wave instigated by the iPhone.

Finally, if you want real data on iPhone use, click the GA report named ‘Browsers and OS’ and you’ll see Safari broken out for iPhone.

Learn more about Mobile Marketing Course.

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  1. Phil Stewart says

    HI John,

    Interesting interview with Ralph and your post was pretty good as well. But as with all things the web is ever evolving and I wanted to share a bit of technology with you that works on phones with winmob 6.x This comes from a small Danish Firm that we represent using a dynamic imaging server and a great Flash viewer from Germany called FSI. Hope you enjoy the video.

    Want to chat? Call me @ 816.373.5049

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