Sure, smartphone and tablets are increasingly becoming our go-to devices for browsing the Internet. The average Geonetric client has more than 20% visits to their website coming from mobile devices today and will likely clear the 25% level by mid-year.
So, why should we stop talking about it?
We’ve had increasingly fuzzy categories in the mobile space for a while now. Phones are getting so large that they barely fit in your hand. A greater range of tablet sizes have made some “tablets” barely larger than some “phones.”
More than that, though, Windows 8 has hit the scene.
Windows 8 is the latest Microsoft operating system. While it’s similar to what you use today, it’s designed to natively support touchscreens. The result is an explosion of new devices on the market. Wander into your local Best Buy and look at the new computers and laptops. You can now buy a 27” touchscreen computer that you can pick up and put on the coffee table to flip through vacation photos – is that a tablet? My wife just purchased a new convertible laptop. It’s a 12” laptop that, with a flip of the screen turns into a large tablet. Or look at the heavily-marketed Microsoft Surface Pro which the folks in Redmond bill as “A laptop in tablet form.”
The numbers aren’t keeping up
Most of us these days are using Google Analytics to get our Web metrics. While GA is adapting to the quickly changing landscape, they’re clearly not keeping up with what’s important when it comes to the mobile landscape.
I mentioned earlier that one-in-five visits to our clients’ websites came from mobile devices. Last year, GA finally rolled out the ability to view traffic from “tablets” separately – an important bit of information. Your strategy might be different if your traffic comes primarily from iPads verse phones. It doesn’t, by the way. We’re typically seeing mobile traffic split about 4:1 phones to tablets. But I digress.
GA isn’t categorizing devices like the Microsoft Surface as tablets or any other form of mobile. Furthermore, it only reports other key information in specific scenarios (touchscreen support only for mobile) or not at all (do they have a mouse?).
So what does it all mean?
Going forward, we’re not going to be able to determine how many mobile-esque devices are really used to access our sites. From here on out, we’re undercounting.
But remember why we cared about this in the first place. The information isn’t merely academic. We wanted to know because our desktop-targeted websites just didn’t work on these new devices. We were building stand-alone microsites as a crutch to provide some limited access to our online presences for smartphones.
But that’s not the way serious websites deal with their mobile audience anymore. We use responsive design which, we all recall, helps insulate us from whatever new devices come in the future. At one-in-five visits (and we have some clients that are closer to half of visits), haven’t we reached that tipping point where there’s really a choice not to go with responsive sites?
So it’s time to stop talking about mobile and, from here on out, just refer to it as the Web.
The desktop-centric Web is dead. Long live the responsive Web.