There is a great article on the New York Times that reveals the fact that Google has noticed that traffic to their sites coming from iPhone has surged during the last holidays period.
You can read the original article by clicking here.
I think there a lot of interesting things in this article.
First one: The amount of traffic generated by iPhones has been bigger that the one coming from other smartphones. Important to notice that according to market data released by IDC, a market research firm, iPhones only accounts for 2% of the total smartphones in the market. Interesting to notice from the very same research data that Symbian accounts for 63% and Windows Mobile for 11%.
According to Charles Wolf, an analyst with Needham & Company and Vic Gundotra, a Google vice president who oversees mobile products, this is due to the outstanding quality of the iPhone web browser.
This is real data and so we need to trust what the market is saying. The only objection I would make on this statement is that only the Christmas period has been analyzed (well, this is what I understand reading the article). It seems that the iPhone has been one the greatest gift during Christmas and there may be the case that a lot of people was just playing with their brand new toy such generating traffic to well known web sites.
Even with this caveat the news is really something to be taken in account from mobile phone manufacturers.
Customers want a great browser with their mobile phone. Full stop.
Mr Gundotra said: â€œThe reason no one considered this seriously is that the Web layer on mobile devices was terrible,â€
This is absolutely true.
On the other side we have notice that Google has taken advantage of all the capabilities offered by the iPhone web browser by creating a compelling user experience for their users. So, it is not only a great web browser but a combination of a great web browser and a great fine tuned backend on the server side.
If you have ever worked on mobile application you know very well that device fragmentation is one of the most complex issues you have to deal with. Google has done a great job releasing a customized version of their most important web sites/services (Search, Gmail, Google Reader and Picasa) for iPhone, but can they do the same for every device that will hit the market? Probably not.
It seems that Google only needed six weeks of work to deliver this application to iPhone users, but would they do the same for every device out there with a good enough web browser? Again, probably not.
The iPhone has shaken up the mobile phone market but it is still only one mobile phone in a market where thousands of different models exist. It is quite clear that there is a common problem that need to be solved in the mobile industry. How to effectively deliver a great user experience to most of your potential customer base.
How should we approach this problem?
This is a difficult question to answer.
I think that the best approach would be to create real (web/application) standards that the mobile phones manufacturers have to stick with.
Even the Yahoo!Go approach may prove to deliver this kind of experience but they will need to put in a considerable effort to support a huge number of mobile phones and devices. Will they do that?
Anyway, as always, the market will answer the question.