We are living in a time that Steve Jobs coined as the post-PC era, where personal computer use as a primary form of technology is declining in favor of smartphones and tablets.
Starting as early as 2011, Apple sold more iPads alone than all personal computers (desktops) sold worldwide. iPhones, iPads, Chromebooks, Android devices, and other flavors of mobile phones and handheld and wearable computing devices are already the preferred platform for commercial and line-of-business application functionality.
According to recent Google research, only 14% of people only use a desktop in a given day. The majority of people, 86%, are either using multiple mobile and non-mobile devices, or they’re using only mobile devices.
What does this mean for your business?
If you provide software to your customers and employees and don’t support mobile then you’re limiting your audience to just 14% of the your potential audience. But if you extend your product to support mobile technologies they you’ll be able to earn back the 86% of the population that uses mobile devices during part or all of their typical day.
Don’t support mobile and you will become irrelevant to competitors who do. So, how can you support mobile?
Mobile Responsive Websites
A mobile responsive website, often referred to as Responsive Web Design (RWD), is a technology that allows a webpage to change how it looks and behaves based on the size of the device that is viewing the webpage.
If the webpage is on a large desktop monitor then it has lots of room to spread out and show everything – big images, your copywriting, and maybe even ads. When that same webpage is viewed on a small device like a phone, there’s not as much room. The webpage designer can decide to drop elements that are not appropriate for phones. As an example, they may choose to either completely drop ads or reformat them. You can also change other elements to make then easier to user on mobile devices. Hyperlinks that are easy to click on with a mouse, but hard for big fingers. Big buttons are much better than links on mobile.
These kinds of modifications can easily be made with a mobile responsive website. And all of these slightly different versions of the webpage are contained in one webpage that everyone views from the same website address. No one has to choose whether they want to view the mobile or regular version of the page – the webpage figures it out automatically.
Mobile apps are built specifically for one of the mobile app stores. There are two very popular and dominant app stores right now – Google Play and the Apple App Store.
With mobile responsive websites, the user has to go to a webpage in the browser on their phone. But with mobile apps users go to the app store, download and install the app, and then it’s always there ready and waiting for them. The experience of a mobile app is a bit better on a small device like a phone because it’s custom made for phones using mobile technologies and user interface guidelines vetted by Google and Apple.
The cost of creating and maintaining a mobile app is more than creating and maintaining a mobile responsive website. But it’s a richer experience more tailored for individual users and customized to the type of device they have. Users will become very loyal to a mobile app if it provides a valuable utility as if the app is the mobile companion to a website or service that already exists.
After the Post-PC Era
The evidence and history are clear – mobile is not only coming, it’s here. We are in the Post-PC era and have been since 2011 or earlier. If you provide a software product for your customers or employees to use, you’d be doing them a great disservice to not support the type of device they use almost exclusively. Support mobile to make it through the Post-PC Era.