It's Time to Redefine "Mobile"

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These days you can't read a story about business, e-commerce or the economy without coming across something about "mobile." And if you take every report, statistic or survey as fact you might just be convinced that desktop computing has gone the way of the Dodo. 

One of those recent surveys, JiWire's Mobile Audience Insights Report, found that 79 percent of mobile users are comfortable making purchases on their mobile devices and 50 percent "...are confident spending more than $100 on a purchase from their device – nearly 20 percent are even comfortable with purchases over $500."

Turn to the person to your left and ask if he or she is comfortable spending $100 using their mobile device. Then ask the person to your right the same question. According to this survey, one of them should say "yes." Ask five people if they would spend $500 using their mobile device, and one should say "yes."

Of course, the chosen mobile device is not necessarily a phone.

According to yet more research (this time from the E-tailing Group), tablet owners do more "mobile" shopping than smartphone users. Nearly 25 percent of tablet users made at least six purchases in the past six months, compared to 15 percent of smartphone users who had done the same.

Here's some more interesting research, this time from Google's AdMob, the world's leading mobile advertising network: In April, they found that 77 percent of 1,400 tablet users surveyed said that their desktop/laptop usage decreased after they started using a tablet. But, 82 percent of respondents said they primarily use their tablet at home.

So, technically, if one were to purchase a $500 item on their tablet, on their couch, this is a "mobile" purchase (and probably a 'comfortable' one, too). Consider this: If you were to go to a car dealership and they used an iPad to help you purchase a $30,000 car – is that a $30,000 "mobile" purchase? Is my laptop on my desk not "mobile" until I take it to Starbucks?

Now the advertising side is raising even more questions. AdMob claims that the network received 2.7 billion daily ad requests in April, up from 2 billion in January. Also according to AdMob, there are more than 80,000 mobile websites and apps in their network, up from 50,000 in January. 

If an ad is served on a website on a tablet or mobile phone, is that one of the 2.7 billion ad requests? With today's mobile browsers becoming more sophisticated, mobile screens growing larger and the introduction of HTML 5, is there such thing as a "mobile website" anymore? If my "normal" website loads the same, fully-functional page on a tablet, is that my "mobile" website, too?

What is mobile? It's an important question that impacts everything from analytics to ad rates, which are currently quite different from the handset to the desktop.

But maybe a better question is; what isn't mobile?

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3 comments

Kashif Sami 05-29-2011 2:57 PM

Fantastic read.

I was of the illusion that 'mobile' is just mobile i.e. mobile phones. Your article brings in a whole different dimension to the definition of mobile!

Kashif Sami 05-29-2011 2:57 PM

Fantastic read.

I was of the illusion that 'mobile' is just mobile i.e. mobile phones. Your article brings in a whole different dimension to the definition of mobile!

MichaelF 05-30-2011 1:48 PM

What isn't mobile?! Good question. I'm pretty sure the phone technology will evolve to handle the web, not vice versa!

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