The Alternative is Nothing

by Karen McGrane

7 Reader Comments

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  1. Great article. It’s so easy to forget that an ever increasing number of users will have a mobile only web experience. When researching for a project for Saudi Arabia we discovered 2 of the 6 million active Facebook users view it strictly on mobile devices!

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  2. Sure, the mobile internet will grow where there is no alternative. But not just because it’s the only choice. It will grow also because it is better in many ways. It is very likely that mobile internet will lower the need for standard internet and will slow down the development of standard internet in some areas.

    Simplicity is probably a key feature of mobile internet that miss the standard internet.

    It is straight forward to switch on a mobile phone or tablet and start surfing the internet.  Every issues can be solved in the factory, in the shop or remotely. It just works straight out of the box. Comparing to all the issues you could have to set-up a computer and a working Internet access (buy the computer, subscribe a broadband access, plug everything, setup everything…). The overall mobile ecosystem do compete against fixed/PC ecosystem from that point of view.

    Touch technology is also a far more advanced technology than keyboard and mouse. This is a premium choice technology for user interface and it is spreading quickly from high-end mobile device to mass-market mobile device.

    Furthermore, device constraints have led to very innovative and efficient user-interfaces. Network, CPU, screen constraints have been turn into strengths resulting in better services.  Even if you have an alternative, you might prefer the mobile version to the full web version.

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  3. This is a compelling case for dealing with the pain of creating a good multi-device experience.

    It’s not just about the traffic we have today. It’s about the traffic we’ll never have if we don’t take action.

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  4. Good article,

    I think this might be a typo though: “Mobile will be better than the desktop—but it will succeed on what it does uniquely well.”

    Maybe you meant “will not be better”?

    -lp

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  5. The points in this article help to drive home the point that the focus of any web design (or redesign) should be on the content and not on a specific device or set of devices. It’s time to stop wasting time evaluating device usage and focus on what we can control—-the content—-and how we can deliver that in the simplest and best way possible.

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  6. Great column!

    “Mobile won’t always be a secondary device or a limited, on-the-go use case. Mobile will be the internet.”

    In some markets, often in lower-income areas, this is already the case—comes with unique behaviors, usage patterns, and everything else that we’ve come to expect from the mobile segment of our sites, but from the majority of users.

    With certain projects I’ve had the chance to be a part of, desktop usage has been sub-10%—and these are not geared as mobile sites, but sites with a demographic that favors mobile devices, for either economic or preferential reasons.

    Mobile is already the internet for entire populations!

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  7. Phil, I talk a lot about the mobile-only user. That behavior is an important driver of disruption, because disruption happens from the low end. When people talk about mobile-only use, it’s easy to focus on the billions of people in developing countries who gain their first access to the internet from a mobile device. But there are many people like that here in the US too. Of the 55% of Americans who say they have ever gone online using their phone, 31% of those say that’s the way they only or mostly go online. I have a lot more to say about the mobile only user here: http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2013/05/the_rise_of_the_mobile-only_us.html

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