Brands ignoring 52% of devices when developing for mobile web


Brands are ignoring less popular mobile operating systems at their peril. A new report indicates that the top 10 mobile devices account for only 48% of total traffic, with regional variances leading to an increasingly broken experiences for users.

The latest Netbiscuits Quarterly Web Trends Report found that fragmentation is increasing at an alarming rate, as unique tablet devices increase by 10% in 6 months, and over 3,000 established devices dominate access to mobile webAndroid OS increases share of traffic by 2%.

Based on the Netbiscuits Cloud Platform which handles billions of global mobile web and content impressions a month, the report found that older devices continue to dominate with the lion’s share of all web traffic, as it takes newer devices time to establish themselves. The top-used device was the Apple iPhone 4S running iOS 6+, followed by the Apple iPhone 4 running iOS 6+. The Samsung Galaxy S3 (GT-I9300) running Android 4+ claimed third position. While the Apple iPhone 5 released in September 2012, sold more than five million units in its first week, it did not make the Top 10 devices used for mobile access.

A significant 38% of mobile usage came from 3,430 different versions of hardware and software highlighting the complexity of consumer engagement with the web. With such variation in device usage across the mobile web and a lack of testing across all platforms, it is becoming harder than ever for brands to build a universal experience that meets the needs and expectations of their customers.

“One look at the base of current handsets in use shows just how long it takes for legacy devices to be replaced in the market,” commented Michael Neidhoefer, CEO, Netbiscuits. “Our research finds that the top most-used devices for each handset manufacturer are usually older devices. HTC’s top device is the Desire which is 2 years old. BlackBerry’s top device is the Curve 8520 from 2009 and Apple’s iPhone 4S is 21 months old. The average lifespan of a device is much longer than many companies think, and although the newest devices do eventually catch up in terms of consumer usage, it would be unwise to abandon testing on ‘older’ devices because consumers are using them the most. Companies that are only testing their websites on the latest gadgets are actually ignoring the majority of their users and are failing to understand the diversity of devices in the market, the complexity of device adoption and the number of people already accessing the web through established channels.”

Regional variance

Data from the Netbiscuits Platform continues to uncover significant variations at regional and country level, meaning that the likelihood of delivering a broken mobile web experience to users in certain territories is significant. Comparisons between two developed Apple-dominated APAC markets, Australia and Singapore, found significant variations in Top 10 device lists, with a notable absence of any Android devices in the Australian Top 10. Singapore was also markedly less fragmented, with its Top 10 device list accounting for 62% of all users, compared with only 45% for Australia.

There were also vast differentiations in user preferences in Europe. Device preferences found the UK market still includes two BlackBerry devices in its Top 10 list, including the Curve 8520 which held Number 1 position. In Germany, a tablet device (the iPad 2) has entered the Top 10 list for the first time, but there are no BlackBerry devices present, with dominance instead from Android devices.

Apple leads devices; Android leads OS

While Apple continues to occupy the Number 1 position in terms of specific devices accessing the Netbiscuits Platform globally, Android has extended its lead as the most popular operating system and widened the gap between iOS, accounting for 46% of all hits, up from 44% just three months ago. However, iOS 6+ accounts for a third of global traffic share alone, with 86% of all Apple users on the most recent version of the software. The Android user base continues to show huge fragmentation with 56% using version 4 and 43% accounting for version 2.3+

“The fragmentation of the Android operating system has been part of its major growth and its open standards are testimony to why web developers cannot treat Android as a single entity with testing conducted on a handful of devices,” concluded Michael Neidhoefer. “Web users today have a huge array of devices to choose from, yet this choice creates a major headache for brands when they think about building for different devices and operating systems. We are experiencing an unprecedented explosion of connected devices and the pressure is now on brands to deliver an adaptive multi-channel universal web experience accessible by everyone. Deploying server-side web services or a device database to detect device profiles is fast becoming the best option to help brands successfully implement a winning mobile strategy. Those organisations that succeed at delivering a seamless experience across multiple devices will thrive. Those that don’t will cease to be relevant to their customers.”

The cloud-based Netbiscuits adaptive web development platform enables companies to quickly and easily create rich mobile web experiences customised to every mobile device, whatever its global traffic share.

About the Web Trends Report

The Netbiscuits Quarterly Web Trends Report is based on a sample of more than a billion pages and content items per month requested on the Netbiscuits Platform during April 2013. This data is compared with data collected for the Q1 2013 and Q4 2012 reports in order to build a comprehensive picture of the most recent web trends.

To download the latest Netbiscuits Quarterly Web Trends report, click here


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