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Just 1 In 3 Brands Has Effective Mobile Site

As consumers continue to adopt new mobile habits and increase usage of smartphone technology, it's critical that brands take the initiative to evolve with them, creating effective, easy-to-use mobile sites that enhance the on-the-go consumer experience.

This has never been clearer than when I began reviewing Interbrand's list of top 100 brands for 2009 on my phone. Loading its websites one by one, I discovered that only one in three of those brands has a mobile Internet presence that is usable and easily accessible, meaning that the primary website automatically detects the consumer's phone and directs it to the appropriate mobile optimized website.

Many brands don't realize that a regular website looks terrible on a mobile phone's browser, if it works at all. With eMarketer recently reporting that 26.3% of North American mobile phone subscribers regularly use the mobile Internet, brands cannot afford to ignore the quality of their mobile Internet experience anymore. But, it seems that they don't know or don't care, or maybe they have considered that the number of people using phones to browse their websites is insignificant. Wrong.

Mobile site adjustments are really very simple to do. Companies simply need to redirect their mobile web surfers from the primary website to a mobile, customized version automatically. This is especially important for those brands that have flash-heavy home pages as no phones on the market today will display flash. Additionally, beyond the cosmetics, brands must consider the needs of the on-the-go consumer. For example, take Toyota's mobile site. On the mobile home page, there is a store locator to find the nearest dealership. This is arguably a very important feature for the consumer.

Toyota mobile

Good customized mobile internet sites create a big difference in the user experience.

Scoring the Top 100 on Mobile Internet Experience

Interestingly, with one third of the top 100 brands having a mobile website which is easily accessible, it is on par with the 26.3% of mobile phone subscribers who have Mobile internet access. And, if we look at just the top 10 brands, 60% of the brands have an easily accessible mobile internet site. Only two brands did not have a mobile internet presence for their core branded property.

Brand Value ($m)
Website Mobile website
1. Coca-Cola 68,734 www.coca-cola.com No mobile site
2. IBM 60,211 www.ibm.com Has mobile site and redirects to it
3. Microsoft 56,647 www.microsoft.com Has mobile site and redirects to it
4. GE47,777 www.ge.com No mobile site
5. Nokia 34,864 www.nokia.com Has mobile site, but not discoverable
6. McDonald's 32,275 www.mcdonalds.com Has mobile site and redirects to it
7. Google 31,980 www.google.com Has mobile site and redirects to it
8. Toyota 31,330 www.toyota.com Has mobile site and redirects to it
9. Intel 30,636 www.intel.com Has mobile site, but not discoverable
10. Disney 28,447 disney.go.com Has mobile site and redirects to it

You can see the full top 100 list at http://bit.ly/top100web

In both cases for Coca-Cola and GE, we can justify the fact that their websites don't have a mobile version because their primary sites are corporate sites, not really their primary brand sites. We all know that Coca-Cola implements many mobile programs to reach consumers.

However, if you look in the top 100 companies, very notably we have four mobile-technology companies Nokia, Intel, Apple and Samsung who have not built a mobile Internet experience in place of their website. See below the Nokia experience and contrast this to the fantastic experience offered with Toyota's mobile Internet site.

Toyota mobile

A poor experience offered by Nokia. It doesn't redirect from its primary website to a mobile Internet site.

What does it say to the consumer when companies like Apple and Nokia don't direct users to an optimized mobile experience? Do they not understand that the mobile web is different from your everyday internet experience? I'm pretty sure Apple's argument for avoiding a mobile site is that the iPhone offers a full-browser experience. But does this really cut it?

Toyota mobile

Apple has not created a customized version of its site for smartphone users. Not acceptable.

EMarketer recently predicted that the mobile Internet penetration will grow to 43% of phone subscribers by 2013. Hopefully, by then, the top 100 brands will all have a mobile Internet presence.

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