This week, Business2Community contributor Dallas McMillan posted an article about the future of the Web. In it, McMillan posits that the future of internet browsing will be based on the mobile platform with mobile website and apps taking over desktop browsing as the ultimate medium for web traffic. So this week, I decided to take a look at McMillan’s article and go through a few thoughts on the validity of this transition.
Most people reading this blog should be well aware that the mobile web is by no means new. Most of us can remember the early days of web browsing, before websites were optimized for phones and tablets. When mobile browsing first appeared in the late 1990’s it was nothing more than an aesthetically unpleasant mosh pit of links. Navigation was difficult to impossible and the connection speed almost made it more worthwhile to find the closest desktop than to wait for a page to load. Data plans weren’t suited for heavy internet use and neither were mobile web users who, for the most part, were easily fed up with the process. Fast forward more than a decade and today, mobile web browsing and connectivity rivals its desktop counterpart. Navigation and screen size are well suited for a vast number of devices and mobile users as young as preschoolers have become adept at pulling up their favorite websites and mobile apps. Our mobile devices are wi-fi enabled, 4G enabled, and mimic the speed we’ve grown accustomed to on our PCs and Macs. Web sites and web apps are optimized to run from desktop to tablet to mobile phone and mobile browser use has been growing at a striking pace.
According to McMillan, “Mobile searches have grown 5x in the last 2 years and are about to outstrip desktop searches”. These are alarming numbers and developers the world over have taken notice. Many web developers have already made the transition to a focus on mobile app development and mobile website integration to stay on top of the growing trend.
But many still agree that desktop use is more comfortable, easier, and still faster in most cases. So why the shift? Is it premature?
While we might spend hours at the end of the day surfing the web from our laptop or desktop, think about how many times a day you look at your phone, use an app you’ve downloaded, or search one thing or another on your smartphone or tablet? Whether you’re using Yelp to check out the nearest pizza delivery, going to IMDB to check out the results of this past week’s Emmys, or even reading through your favorite news publication, we use our phones frequently throughout the day as a sidekick to our day-to-day lives.
MobileWebRockstar.com founder Stephen Alberts contributed an article to Business2Community this past July that touches on some of the statistics associated with the desktop-to-mobile phenomenon. According to Alberts’ data from the Pew Research Center for mobile web usage, a whopping 28% of internet usage comes from mobile web use. Further, MarketingLand.com released a Google report from this past January depicting a mobile device user internet user rate of 69% daily. In the world of mobile tech, this statistic from January 2012 is almost certainly outdated with present figures most definitely featuring higher numbers.
So perhaps it isn’t a matter of comfort but rather, a matter of convenience. In a world where 46% of U.S mobile users now have smartphones (a number continually on the rise) it is no mystery why mobile web use is getting an increasing amount of attention.
If you’re a business, you’re integrating this new avenue as a major point of marketing and business in general, if you’re a developer, you have made or are currently making the transition to mobile web and app development as your primary focus, and if you own a smartphone or tablet this is not news to you.
Welcome to the world of tomorrow. With the near-capabilities of a fully functional desktop in the palm of our hands we are ready to move into a new era of internet use – or are we already there? Will the desktop one day become obsolete? It’s possible. Regardless, there is no question a shift is taking place and doing so expeditiously. Only newer generations of phones and tablets with their multitude of upgrades and developments will tell what is to come.
And if you’re reading this from your iPhone, maybe it’s already happened.