'Fragmentation' Still Mobile Watchword In 2010


A recent report by Forrester analyst Thomas Husson on mobile trends for 2010 emphasizes that fragmentation will continue to be a defining element of the mobile Web.

"Mobile browsing is very different from the basic PC browsing space where, so far, you've had only Microsoft's Internet Explorer or, in the past few years, Mozilla's Firefox. From a technology perspective, mobile looks like a complex and fragmented world. It is and will remain so," he wrote.

It's a good point to keep in mind in light of recent forecasts from Morgan Stanley and Gartner predicting the mobile Web will outstrip the desktop version in the next several years. Hasn't the reach of the mobile device always been a big part of its promise as a marketing vehicle? The potential audience across four billion phones, with mobile devices serving as the primary means of Web access in emerging markets like China and India?

Looks good on paper. But the multitude of competing handsets, operating systems, carriers and mobile technology standards still conspire to undermine mobile's claim as a mass audience medium. The Forrester report points out that even an open source operating system like Android will become more fragmented as manufacturers' try to differentiate their versions of the Google platform from competitors'.

Beyond fragmentation, the quality of the mobile Internet experience itself undercuts the mobile marketing hype. The PC-based Internet as an ad medium only began to ramp up with the advent of widespread broadbrand connections. A Nielsen Norman report last year likened the mobile Web today to dial-up Internet access circa 1995. And the desktop Web still only accounts for about 10% of overall U.S. ad spending.

2 comments about "'Fragmentation' Still Mobile Watchword In 2010".
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  1. Timothy Murphy from Keynote Systems Inc., January 22, 2010 at 8:33 p.m.

    There was a narrow window about a year ago when you could develop for the iPhone and cover a good chunk of the market. Many of the developers we spoke with found the one-device approach to be the best use of their time and resources. But with the subsequent growth of other smartphones and the eventual end of device/carrier exclusivity deals, we're back to a fragmented market where developers and content owners have to cast a wider net (device-wise) to reach their target audience. Keynote's customers monitor content on the latest smartphones and over the past few months our engineers have been working around the clock to keep up with market demand. What has taken me by surprise personally, is that the number of relevant handset manufacturers is actually growing. I strongly suspect that in a year's time there will be consolidation again, but until we hear otherwise most of us will need to address the vast number of device/carrier combinations to serve our mobile customer base.

  2. Benny Forsberg from Squace, January 25, 2010 at 5:23 a.m.

    I really think this is crucial to push - the ugly reality that there is jungle of competing mobile platforms out there (and they are increasing...). And no single one with the seamless and coherent user experience (for accessing internet on mobile devices) in the front seat. To catch up with and reduce the lead for the PC-web - there is a huge need for some kind of universal mobile interface. And the aim should be to help the majority of mobile users on a global perspective - enhence the everyday internet use on foremost the dominating and sheap 3g feature phones (not only to fulfill the hype of Smartphones out there...) There is some good articles and white paper abut this at:

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