opinion

Mobile vs. Web Access: Digital Dividing Line

Stephen Yagielowicz

Technology is combining with changing consumer behaviors to drive an increase in the use of mobile devices for Internet access. From checking Facebook to bank accounts, watching videos to engaging in social media, and even live interactive sex cams, mobile devices are commonly employed throughout the day by today’s active audiences.

Regional variances skew the percentages, but worldwide, mobile devices account for more than 10 percent of Internet access. Asia is pushing 18 percent, while growth rates are skyrocketing across the developing world, changing the face of Internet usage today.

Younger users, as well as more casual users, are also eschewing traditional desktops and embracing the mobile web.

Younger users, as well as more casual users, are also eschewing traditional desktops and embracing the mobile web — with search and media viewing being primary uses.

Despite the increasing popularity of using mobile devices for Internet access, all is not smooth sailing; with a range of customer satisfaction issues that adult digital media marketers need to be aware of.

One move that causes frustration for many mobile device users is being automatically (and unwillingly) redirected to a site’s “mobile” version. While it is comforting that some websites offer a mobile version, the super capabilities of modern Smartphones and tablets are wasted on watered-down websites designed for less-capable feature phones.

This doesn’t mean, however, that all users of advanced devices want the most robust presentations possible, since many will be paying a significant premium for data charges, as well as enduring questionable carrier connections — a special problem in rural areas.

Having a user-selectable gateway, or at the very least, a link at the bottom of the page allowing a choice of full or mobile versions of a site, would be welcome by many users — as might a third choice of site offering: mobile for WAP / feature phones, mobile+ for up-market devices such as iPad, and full — although taking this strategy further, desktop as well as smart television/set-top box versions should also be developed — a substantial investment in comparison to the cost of deploying an oldschool “one size fits all” site.

Even if the mobile user obtains acceptable access to a website meeting his standards, there are other unnecessary hindrances that are often placed in the way.

For example, some websites that are otherwise open to all users might require mobile users to register an account. Other websites may take advantage of the marketability and profitability of advertising to (and selling ad space targeting) higher-end users.

For example, popular mainstream video site Hulu offers free access to desktop users, supported by advertising.

Fans may hope that the monthly Hulu+ subscription strips ads, but there is still “limited commercial interruption,” which is not a deal killer at $7.99/mo. — a fee, says the company, that is required in order to keep the monthly price this low.

But if you hit the site with an iPad, a Hulu+ membership is not optional, it is required.

Once again, this is not necessarily a problem — as the low cost, the variety of content and the quality of the iPad App user experience, makes a Hulu+ membership worthwhile.

Other sites have gotten the message and are going out of their way to cater to users of next generation devices such as the new iPad Mini.

One such site on the adult front is BangYouLater.com, which according to its owner, has taken extensive measures to suit the advanced display capabilities of the iPad Mini, in a competitive attempt to out perform other sites in terms of video load time and usability.

“Due to the smaller size of the new iPad Mini, it was a challenge to deliver the best possible experience to our valued users,” notes the project’s lead developer. “We wanted to ensure that all the information that is on screen with the regular iPad was still available without being too small to use or too cluttered.”

This focus on how design changes impact the usability of emerging platforms cannot be based on complacency, but on proactive testing and pushing the limits of technology — or as BangYouLater’s owner explains, “in the extremely competitive adult mobile market, it is necessary for the site to grow, change and be compatible with any new cutting edge mobile technology.”

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