Fractured Mobile Market Poses Challenges for Merchants, Developers

With the expansion in popularity of several different mobile devices using the Android OS, the mobile environment is growing increasingly diverse.

AdMob, the mobile advertising network that tracks monthly usage statistics on mobile devices, reported in September 2009, the HTC Dream and HTC Magic represented 96 percent of their visitors in their own network. By March 2010, 11 apparatus made up the exact same percentage.

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According to the Mobile Metrics Report, the top three Android apparatus were the Motorola Droid, HTC Fantasy and Motorola CLIQ. These also happen to be the only best Android devices with keyboards, which might explain their popularity with Android users.

To a lesser extent, the growth in popularity of the iPod touch together with the launching of iPad have been adding to the diversity of the iPhone OS, too.

Many people were quick to shell out the $500 for the iPad before it hit stores. Apple reported that it sold 300,000 of the apparatus by its launch date of April 3. Its quotation jumped to 450,000 by April 8. Now advertising research firm Chitika Labs estimates that nearly 2 million have been sold. By April 22, Wired reported that 26 percent of its site traffic came from iPad users.

Many Resolutions, Screen Sizes

This increasing diversity represents a challenge to programmers who need to take care of the different screen sizes, resolutions, memory and keyboard capabilities of each these devices. Furthermore, it makes a difference for merchants.

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By means of example, a merchant who receives a whole lot of mobile traffic might want to take into account whether its clients have keyboards. Mobile users may give up on filling out extended order forms using hunt-and-peck. An iPad user, on the other hand, wouldn’t have this situation.

Apps Are an Option, Too

Plenty of the apps available for the Android work fairly well across all devices, at least based on some of the comments I saw on Android forums. The toughest aspect of optimizing for different devices, for mobile sites and apps, is adjusting to the numerous hardware on each device. These include screen size, resolution, trackballkeyboard, camera and GPS.

This is true for the iPhone OS too. There are a great deal of useful and interesting apps out there in the App Store that are just practical on the iPhone owing to its 3G capabilities, camera and GPS. The iPad adds a new dimension with a enormous screen, QWERTY keyboard and reliance on WiFi for Internet connections. Merchants which are considering an iPhone or iPad app have those options to take into account.

Therefore it appears that, despite the fact that there’s a enormous requirement for standardization, mobile development is becoming more varied, depending upon the apparatus of taste. Although W3C introduced its Mobile Web Best Practices in 2008 to try to put down a few rules, these rules are more like guidelines.

Mobile Platforms, Number of Users

For now, merchants, and their developers, should determine which mobile devices to focus on, and optimize their own ecommerce sites for them. Merchants that choose to optimize their sites for mobile should focus their efforts on optimizing for iPhone (such as iPod touch), the HTC Fantasy and Magic and the Motorola Droid. Merchants who Intend to create apps might want to continue creating for the App Store first, then the Android Market

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