Ryan Beach on January 29, 2014
When speaking to technology and the technoculture that grows with it, there are two lines. The first is a line where, once a new technology has gained critical mass, society can no longer return to its previous technological state. In Shaping Things, Bruce Sterling refers to this line as the Line of No Return.
With mobile devices, we have already crossed the Line of No Return. It’s no secret that our smart devices have become extensions of ourselves.
However, the mobile web hasn’t yet reached the same critical mass that our mobile devices have.
Many websites still don’t support smaller screen sizes. This is where our second line comes in: the Line of Empire. The Line of Empire is crossed when users of a previous technology can no longer compete with its successor. We are fast approaching the line of Empire for responsive web. For your business, this means that a mobile presence will quickly become a necessity to stay competitive, if it hasn’t already. Consider these facts about the growth of the mobile web:
1. Mobile accounts for 17.4% of all web traffic (source)
Mobile devices already own a large portion of the market.
2. Mobile web is growing 8x faster than PC (source)
The potential for mobile is growing at an alarming rate.
Now, these first two reasons don’t account for the difference between apps and responsive websites. Both account for mobile internet traffic in the figures above, but approach it in very different ways. A comparison between the two would merit another blog post, but for the purposes of this list I will say that:
3. Responsive sites have a lower barrier of entry than Apps
This barrier of entry can refer to both you as the business owner as well as the end user. A responsive site doesn’t require the same user commitment as downloading an app. And while responsive design and development isn’t a trivial task, the ability to implement one backend for multiple devices without porting the software to different operating systems makes it a more viable alternative for most business cases. Responsive sites also provide a more seamless experience between devices, which is important because:
4. Users aren’t using Desktops any less; we are just more constantly connected. (source)
While the golden era of desktops and laptops is over, these devices won’t be obsolete just yet. They still account for most internet traffic when users are at work or school. However, mobile devices fill every gap in between. 90% of US adults use multiple screens throughout the day.
From our commutes to work to the grocery store to a night out with friends, we are always online. This is referred to as sequential screening. Mobile devices have also introduced the phenomena of simultaneous screening. At any given time when we are interacting with a TV or a desktop computer, we may also be ‘multitasking’, using our mobile device on the side.
5. Mobile Revenue Will Catch Up to Mobile Usage (source)
As users become more comfortable with mobile devices, the mobile platform will increasingly become a source of revenue. This past cyber monday showed 28% of shopping from mobile devices.
Mobile is also redefining how websites generate ad revenue. The popularity of mobile feeds is reflected in the click-through rate of feed ads as opposed to traditional ads.
Even with marketing, the power of mobile can’t be ignored. 70% of mobile searches lead to online action within an hour. There is something about having the entirety of human knowledge always at your fingertips that encourages spontaneity in our online actions. An online presence is essential in converting mobile users.
Smart devices are here to stay. As users come to rely more and more heavily on mobile devices, they will look to businesses that can provide the most seamless experience in our constantly connected world. When we reach the Line of Empire, which side will you be on?