Mobile Web usage prompts development in the space

The mobile Web presence is to 2008 what the Web presence was to 1998: an absolutely essential component of the marketing mix. Mobile media measure­ment firm M:Metrics, recently acquired by ComScore, states that mobile browsing has increased 89% year over year, and page views have increased 127%.

David Berkowitz, director of emerging media and client strategy at 360i, noted, “Google ranks mobile optimized sites higher than non-optimized sites when searching from a mobile browser. [Soon,] not having any mobile Web presence [could] turn into a competitive disadvantage.”

Alack of standardization for handsets, browsers and metrics poses the greatest challenge for mobile Web site or applica­tion development. Andy Sullivan, VP of client services for Crisp Wireless, suggests that marketers work with firms who spe­cialize in mobile device detection, usability and development. His firm does exactly that for clients including Fandango.

“Some browsers have major differ­ences,” Sullivan warned. “The same browser on a differ­ent device might react differently.”

Jon von Tetzch­ner, CEO of Opera, provided some his­torical context to the lack of standards and interoperability. His firm began deploying Web browsers for PDAs in 1999 and for mobile phones in 2002. Its Opera Mobile and Opera Mini browsers aim to level the playing field by putting mobile consumers’ interests first. The latter has more than 44 million users and is designed to operate on even low-resource handsets.

“Some carriers hesitated to let subscrib­ers loose on the Web and sought to build gateways and walled gardens as a way to interact with their customers and present users with content [they] thought people wanted,” Tetzchner said.

Also on the horizon is the release of Mozilla’s new mobile browser, code named Fennec. Expected to launch this fall, the browser is looking to provide a richer mobile Web experience.

In addition to GPS technology, carrier data and reverse triangulation can provide location data. Andrew Weinreich, CEO of location-based mobile dating firm MeetMoi, agrees that this local aspect is a boon for smart mobile developers. For him, future mobile Web development will rely upon local information to provide relevant infor­mation. “One thing you can do on a mobile handset is know where you are,” he said.

Thom Kennon, VP of strategic channel planning at Wunderman, concurs that the mobile Web will be contextually and geographically relevant, because the cell phone is always on and always with the customer. “Mobile is the new face of CRM,” he said.

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