Is the mobile web the one we’ve always wanted?

8 Jan


In conversations and presentations I often refer to a comment I read in a blog post wherein the author posed this very question: “Is the mobile web the one we’ve always wanted?”

Ever since then the questions sticks in my brain like peanut butter.

Could this be true?

It’s not a certainty like 2 + 2 = 4. It’s more of a feel thing although there are some strong stats to suggest that this is in fact the case.

Hubspot reported last year that 1 in 4 Americans are mobile-only users of the internet. Devoid of the need to create powerpoints (ugh!) and other content creation tasks, I can easily see how the mobile web covers a person’s internet needs.

There’s also a great deal of talk about the “death” of the PC.  Certainly the folks making them are feeling the pinch on their profit margins. Low sales and weak uses cases, as compared to mobile phones, have made the PC a bystander while the mobile phone soars in just about every metric, be it usage, sales, etc.

So really, if this is true, that the mobile web is the one we’ve always wanted, what’s that mean? Looking at just the nonprofit sector (after all, it’s the 3rd largest business in the US behind Uncle Same and banking) it has some existential implications.

I use the adjective existential here because it really is a struggle that could mean fulfillment of your mission or not fulfilling your mission. As Peter Drucker has pointed out, nonprofits are so prone to an inward focus that they miss the trends around them and yet, they, as their donors are already doing, are shifting their own internet use megabyte by megabyte away from the PC and to their mobile phone.

Too much inward focus and you miss the rise in mobile traffic to your primary domain. Check your stats. With 9 out of 10 mobile searches leading to action within one hour of the search your mobile presence had better not be your PC site.

Think of PC and mobile websites as two different ponds. The PC pond is narrow and deep. Interactions with it beckon you to browse and drill-down into page after page looking for what you want. Experiences tend to be somewhat bloated and riven with ads and useless info.

The mobile pond is narrow too but it’s very shallow. In the mobile pond you don’t browse or drill-down. You’ve got a minute to complete a task and looking at page after page is not what you’ll get because the mobile pond is intentionally shallow. It’s shallowness matches the time you have to spend to do something. As I have said before, mobile web usage is more akin to snacking than browsing.

So let’s just say that yes, the mobile web is the one we wanted all along and it’s finally arrived with the right data speeds, rate plans, apps, mobile-optimized sites, easy and secure commerce, etc. Yes, we want access to scads of information instantly on the one thing at arms length 91% of the time-our mobile phone.

For nonprofits, and this will be the theme of our advertising in 2014, you need a mobile-optimized website TODAY and you need a really simple donation page TODAY that allows for giving in as little as a few seconds on a mobile phone.

I don’t think anyone can really make a strong case that the PC web is in a period of ascendancy. And yet, with this being the case and internet traffic rising overall, what’s driving it? The mobile phone.

Time will tell if the mobile web is the one we’ve always wanted. For nonprofits that aren’t asking themselves this very question, one only need look around to see what the impacts will be-decline, increased challenges and perhaps demise.

Harsh? Not really. I just got back from the future and the mobile web IS THE ONE we’ve always wanted.

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