While mobile marketing has obviously seen explosive growth in recent years, 2011 brings the most significant mobile Web evolution as part of the overall mobile experience.
With nearly 60 million Americans currently owning smartphones, the rapid growth and success of tablets, and improved user experience across devices, the mobile Web will become a much greater component to the multifaceted world of mobile marketing. With the speed of advanced devices getting in users’ hands (Google now activating 200,000 new Android devices daily and Apple activating some 250,000 new iOS devices) coupled with significant carrier infrastructure improvements and the rollout of 4G, it’s clear that mobile will continue to grow as one of the most powerful and encompassing platforms ever available to marketers.
Brands, marketers, and software developers are currently negotiating the labyrinth of devices, operating systems, APIs, networks, and user experience challenges to provide the best mobile experience. The mobile Web is quickly becoming one of the most effective marketing platforms and will see significant growth due to major enhancements over the next year. Advances in device and carrier detection, including specific device, provider, and location are giving marketers a whole new dimension in targeting.
Improvements With Mobile Web
Stronger browsers. Mobile browsers are rapidly improving, and have quick market penetration driven by the speed of smartphone device launches. In several aspects, mobile browsers are more advanced than desktop browsers, specifically with the support of HTML5. As mobile Web browsers are becoming more advanced, so are mobile Web applications. Native applications that do not require intensive graphics processing or access to device hardware can be well-represented in HTML5. Additionally, advanced features once available only to native apps are quickly becoming available via the Web. By fall 2011, Google plans on having GPU (graphics processing unit) acceleration capabilities onboard with Android browsers, and it stands to reason that Apple iOS devices will soon follow. This enhancement will allow better 3D graphics and content to be accessed via the Web, leading to big implications for gaming and entertainment. Additionally, the availability of geo-location data from the browser will drive significant location-based services via Web apps.
Native app experience for the Web. Functional elements of the native app user experience are becoming possible in mobile Web apps. Many native apps are known for their efficient usability, including navigation and user interaction. We are now seeing maturation of mobile Web application frameworks, such as jQTouch and Sencha that bring the native app look and feel to the Web. These open-source frameworks can mimic the native app user experience, but allow for easier development and deployment as compared to the native app platforms. This shift allows developers to focus more on the creativity and innovation of their apps rather than more complex development tasks.
4G network launches. With the major carriers rolling out their 4G networks this year and next, we are likely to see monumental evolution of mobile Web content and functionality. These networks have bandwidth and transmission speeds much faster than existing residential broadband connections, thus driving significant content consumption that is extremely portable. This bandwidth availability will drive much deeper mobile content offerings overall, as well as increased adoption of significant video, chat, and conferencing capabilities. Additionally, when coupled with the robustness of mobile browsers, mobile Web applications will drastically increase the functional complexity they can provide.
Native App Improvements From Mobile Web
With the evolution of mobile Web technology, we will also see an impact to the native app market in 2011. Overall, native applications will take advantage of these Web improvements by further incorporating formidable Web backends to the native app experience. These technical architectures will allow a much higher volume of content updates as well as being able to process more complex functionality through easier integration with backend systems. This structure opens up the native app market in several areas. Business-related native applications are expected to significantly increase, especially with better video conference opportunities. Key business data and processes can be more easily incorporated into mobile app versions. Non-business applications will also improve in everything from gaming to utility apps due to the broader content that can be provided as well as the frequency of content updates. From a usability perspective, we will continue to see native app versions that basically mimic the Web functionality but streamline to one step launch and login for frequently used apps.
Overall, these mobile Web improvements will change the existing behaviors of mobile interaction. This shift represents additional marketing opportunities with even greater targeting options. The future of the mobile Web represents the intersection of significant user interaction, CRM integration and customization, and location-based services thus allowing major innovation in the approach to marketing. In addition to the marketing opportunities driven by greater mobile Web usage overall, the rollout of the 4G networks will drive a major evolution of mobile Web content presenting additional marketing opportunities. The native app and Web app markets will certainly coexist for many years with specific considerations for each, so campaign strategies need to appropriately incorporate the mobile components based on key campaign objectives.