May 27

Nat Torkington

Nat Torkington

Mobile Internet

I enjoyed Going Fast on the Mobile Web, a slide deck on Slideshare. It's by Jason Grigsby, and has the rough structure of: (1) mobile is huge, (2) iPhone is worth developing for, (3) here's why other platforms' mobile experience sucks, and (4) what you can do to fix it. The two slides that really stood out were on points 1 and 2.

The size of mobile (3.3B handsets, one for every two people on the planet) is staggering, and well known (see Communities Dominate Blogs for description of other media's relative penetration). What made Grigsby's slide so good was the graph he used to illustrate it.

Graph of 3.3B handsets vs other media

The second killer slide was just why companies are making a fuss over the iPhone and rushing to build iPhone versions of their web sites:

iPhone users surf the web, other mobiles don't

I've embedded the preso below. It easily repays the time it takes to read.

tags: mobile  | comments: 8   | Sphere It

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Comments: 8

  Justin Kistner [05.27.08 07:47 AM]

This was the slide deck that convinced me I should be looking more into the mobile space. Great work, @grigs! And, thanks for sharing these, Nat!

  Jason Grigsby [05.27.08 10:01 AM]

Thanks Nat for highlighting my presentation. I'm glad you found the content interesting.

I create my presentations for my audience which means they are a little more difficult to follow online than if they were entirely bullet points. So I'm glad you were able to grasp the gist of what I was saying, if not the full context. You were definitely close.

I would summarize my presentation this way:

1. The Mobile Web is coming and it is going to be huge.
2. Yes, we've heard this all before, but this time it is true. Look at the numbers.
3. I understand why people are skeptics, but if you were to look at the data from gopher and try to extrapolate the growth of the web before the introduction of mosaic, you would never guess the growth that was to happen. The iPhone is the Mosaic of the Mobile Web. The numbers we're seeing with the iPhone are nothing like what we saw previously.
4. Web Developers have a long ways to go to be prepared for building for the Mobile Web. We've got to learn new constraints and relearn some things--like web site optimization--which we've gotten lazy about.
5. Unfortunately, there is little consistency or data about mobile browsers--particularly factors for optimization--so we have been conducting tests on mobile browsers.
6. Here are the results of our tests and our recommendations based on these results.

The Web Visions conference organizers are supposed to be posting a podcast of the presentations sometime soon. As soon as they do, I'll hook it up to the slides.

For those who are purely interested in where mobile is headed, I recommend my other slideshow as well which I recorded audio for:

For more on web site optimization, here is another presentation and resources:

And of course Yahoo's Performance Group, Steve Souders site, and the O'Reilly Velocity conference are all great resources that we've pulled from.

  Dean Terry [05.27.08 11:47 PM]

Great presentation Jason! Will be using it in my university research group.

Another point to consider is that, on the idea side, there are a whole host of mobile specific considerations that people have not had to contend with when creating projects for the Internet.

The mobile space is like the Internet turned inside out. On the Internet you are where your URL is, in a way. In the mobile space, you are where you really are, and relative to actual locations, people, and, eventually, localized persistent virtual data.

I think it will take a while for us to develop truly mobile applications, games, and the supporting platforms.

Just look at the game space where we continue to see single player games with no sensitivity to context or connections with place or people. The application space is similar.

This is just s snapshot, and too much for a comment, but I hope I've started to make this point.

  doesnt matter [05.28.08 05:22 AM]

50 times the number of searches from iphone has indeed been checked by google and considered incorrect , there was a mixup with the safari users on desktop macs..

  Jason Grigsby [05.28.08 06:45 AM]

I can't find a source for any correction regarding the Google search numbers. The anecdote that Google shared when they realized the statistics originally was that they were so surprised by the numbers that they asked their engineers to double-check:

“We thought it was a mistake and made our engineers check the logs again,” Vic Gundotra, head of Google’s mobile operations told the Financial Times at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

I can't find a single reference to a retraction. That doesn't mean it doesn't exist, but I'd love to have a source url for that contrary information.

  Chris Sacca [05.28.08 08:02 AM]

I posted about possible reasons for these alarming numbers when Google's Gundotra first made those statements.

Essentially, 1) Google searching is coded right into the chrome of the mobile Safari browser and 2) knowing a full browser sits behind the result page, users don't hesitate to query.


  Jason Grigsby [05.28.08 10:54 AM]

Hi Chris,

Your explanations make sense, but they don't invalidate the point that Google was making. To be clear, I understand that you didn't make the point that the other person was making about the numbers being invalid. You just explained how they could have happened.

The point that Google was making and that I agree with is that people have used the small percentage of the overall iPhone market share as an argument for why developing for the iPhone doesn't make sense. Google's point was from a web search perspective, who cares how many Windows Mobile phones there are in the world if they aren't being used for web browsing and search.

I take this argument one step further which is to say that those who are dismissive about the future of the mobile web and use previous numbers of mobile web usage to support their point are missing how radically different web usage is on the iPhone versus other devices.

Another example of the difference is here:

"A survey of 50,000 U.S. households conducted by iSuppli Corp. in the fourth quarter of 2007 found that iPhone users spent just 46.5% of their time on the device making calls, compared to 71.7% for the typical cell phone user. The rest of the time, they were reading and sending e-mail, browsing the Web and checking out Google Maps, among other tasks."

So I think you're right as to why people might search a lot on their iPhone, but the reality is they are browsing the web more on the iPhone than other phones by an order of magnitude. That's why usage, not units, matter.

I'm still curious as to whether or not someone can find a source that indicates that Google's numbers for search, that they supposedly double-checked, are incorrect.

  canioning [05.29.08 06:59 AM]

In Japan,This is real.

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