The Rise of Mobile Platforms
As growth in all things mobile continues, with estimations of 1.82 billion Internet-enabled mobile devices by 2013, many more companies are creating mobile-friendly versions of their websites and mobile applications.
The decision to adapt to the mobile platform depends on your company’s objectives, the cost, the potential reach of a mobile offering, and the needs of your users.
With mobile usage exploding, it’s not a question of whether your company should adapt to the mobile platform but of when and how.
Generally, the gaming and entertainment industries tend to publish mobile apps, while the commerce and social networking industries favor mobile websites.
Mobile web and mobile apps pose unique challenges not only in terms of development and implementation but also in terms of familiarity and risk (real and perceived), and general acceptance by their users.
Before tackling these issues, let’s first figure out which one(s) make the most sense for your company.
How do Mobile Apps Compare to Mobile Websites?
The mobile search company, Taptu, predicts that mobile websites will grow faster than mobile applications.
While iPhone (and now Android) device sales are impressive, creating an iPhone-only application can alienate a large number of consumers as the iPhone is not yet widely adopted.
How can businesses respond?
In addition to market share, businesses must consider the cost and maintenance involved in developing applications for a specific mobile Operating System and platform that may have different technical standards and revenue terms.
Leading mobile platforms include iPhone, Android, Blackberry, Symbian, Microsoft Windows, and Palm. Each platform has advantages and disadvantages that must be considered.
In addition, if you’re looking toward an international strategy, OS and platform market share may vary by country.
What about Mobile Websites?
Gartner predicts mobile websites will become more popular than mobile applications by 2013. Moreover, comScore data reveals:
- 31.9% of all mobile subscribers used a Web browser on a mobile device in the three months ending in May 2010, up from 26% in the September 2009 three-month average; and
- 30% downloaded a mobile application in the three months ending in May, compared to 6.7% in the September 2009 three-month average.
What kinds of mobile websites can I create?
Furthermore, there are four types of mobile web presences, according to Matthew Snyder, CEO and Founder of AdObjects: Each can be part of your overall strategy but need to be matched to a specific objective.
- Mobile versions of existing sites – Companies have built mobile websites which offer nearly the same features as their traditional websites but are adapted to a handheld format. A textbook example is Facebook’s mobile website at m.facebook.com.
- Plug-in-based mobile sites – Similar to the first category, blogs and websites based on WordPress, Drupal, or similar open-source platforms can use free plug-ins, which format sites for mobile audiences.
- Mobile landing pages – As the name suggests, these single-page entities can be created quickly to add a mobile-Web presence to a marketing campaign.
- Dedicated mobile sites – These sites are standalone, multi-page entities, not mobile versions of a traditional website. They have their own designs and strategies to meet the needs of mobile visitors.
What Risks Are Users Most Concerned About?
If your company is already in the planning stages or has already deployed a mobile application and/or mobile website, you are already in the game. Now, you only need to worry about mobile app user privacy and data collection.
So, what kinds of risks concern most users?
For starters, the use of mobile devices for more advanced activities such as downloading apps, browsing the Internet, and interacting with other device owners are fairly new to the majority of the US market. Hence, the fear of newer technologies means users need added assurance.
Next, users are apprehensive about sharing their information through a mobile device because of additional privacy issues that aren’t found on PC websites due to location technologies.
Finally, the size of the device requires even more creative ways to present information and also engage your users.
A successful strategy will address all of the above issues and go further in alleviating user concerns to truly obtain user trust.
Does Privacy Differ for Mobile Websites and Mobile Applications?
In short, no.
Privacy is something that needs to be considered wherever you collect customer data, be it through your physical store, traditional website, mobile website, or mobile app.
In all of these instances, your data collection, management, storage, and sharing, including with third parties, need to be well-defined and in accordance with the data privacy regulations and laws.
Remember, the foundation of privacy consists of transparency, accountability, and choice.
It’s your responsibility to disclose any new information collected and shared, as well as new uses of previously collected information, such as the new processing techniques for data collected via a mobile website or mobile application.
User trust must be earned by demonstrating:
- You are transparent in the use of the data you’ve collected from your users;
- You will be accountable for safeguarding the data you’ve collected from your users, and,
- You will provide users with meaningful choices about the collection and use of their personal information.
When mobile app design and initiatives are done right, your users will reward you by not only downloading your application or accessing your mobile website more frequently through their mobile devices; but also by more deeply engaging with your content and services.
Forming a Mobile Commerce Plan that Addresses Consumer Privacy Concerns
Mobile commerce can mean anything from selling physical goods to consumers over the mobile web to buying and downloading mobile applications and media to using a mobile device to complete a purchase at a retail location.
The sale of physical goods via mobile devices is booming.
eBay generated $60 million in wireless revenue in 2009 on more than 1.5 million items and is projecting $1.5 billion in mobile sales this year. Amazon is estimated to have 3.5 billion unique visitors in the first three quarters of 2009, according to Nielsen.
Other major retailers have been successful in the mobile commerce space, including Best Buy, Target, Tommy Hilfiger, and American Eagle Outfitters.
Consumers also use their mobile devices to perform price comparisons, receive alerts about special shopping deals, receive mobile coupons, and read user reviews to help make purchasing decisions.
Addressing consumer concerns on the mobile platform
Some best practices to address these concerns include:
- avoid storing credit card information when a purchase is made,
- display only a truncated credit card number using the last four digits,
- encrypt sensitive information prior to transmission and
- ask users to enter their 3-digit credit card security numbers.
Build Trust with Consumers by Protecting their Privacy
Regulators and consumers are proactively monitoring your business’s ability to demonstrate data privacy compliance. Ensure you’re delivering a compliant digital experience on mobile devices and across all your brand websites.