Jacob Nielsen in his latest Alert Box discusses the Netcraft November 2006 Web Server Survey. He suggests that the Web has experienced three growth stages:
A) 1991-1997: Explosive growth, at a rate of 850% per year.
B) 1998-2001: Rapid growth, at a rate of 150% per year.
C) 2002-2006: Maturing growth, at a rate of 25% per year.
As he says, only on the Web would we call 25% a “mature” growth rate. Any other field would be happy to grow at half that speed.
There are some fascinating details in the Netcraft study, but one of the most interesting aspects of that Web growth still remains hidden. It seems probable that the Mobile Web is now growing faster than the Desktop PC Web. So how does that 25% “mature” growth rate split between the two.
To be more precise, how do the number and growth of new websites that work well in the Mobile world compare with those designed only for the Desktop PC world. By working well, we would suggest that this should mean a satisfactory user experience. This is more than just the ‘thematically coherent experience’ suggested under the One Web Principle. On this basis, it would be interesting to know how the growth splits among the following groups:
1) Websites that work well only on Mobile Devices
2) Websites that work well both on Mobile Devices and on Desktop PCs, and
3) Websites that work well only on Desktop PCs
It seems likely that the growth rate for type 2) websites is much smaller than for the other two types. Even such as an initiative as the launch of a new Mobile standard (CC/PP) to provide Web content to a broad range of devices will probably not do the trick. Currently the situation is that the Public is often shunning the mobile web, as represented by that type 2) group. A consumer survey commissioned by Hostway highlights problems with accessing the Internet on the move.
73% of people hate using the Internet on the move. Despite being able to access many internet services from their telephones and PDAs, just under three quarters of people are not taking advantage of this. Amongst the reasons for not using mobile Internet were
- being frustrated by slow-loading pages (38%),
- problems with navigating websites from a phone or PDA (27%) and
- some websites being completely unavailable on mobile phones (25%).
The research was conducted by independent research body TNS and surveyed 1484 consumers in the UK.
Despite these problems, it is clear that there is strong demand for the mobile Web. Regrettably how the size and the growth rate of the Mobile Web compare with the same parameters for the regular Web is still to be determined.