iPhone Spurs Mobile Web Usage

Great blog post at the New York Times last week about the disproportionate percentage of iPhone users (84.8%) who use the iPhone regularly to access the Web (compared to users of other smart phone devices). Mark Donovan of M:Metrics is quoted in the article saying that this is because the iPhone is particularly well suited to “people who are jacked into the Internet all the time.” Doesn’t putting the Web front and center on the device, bundling the device with very Internet-friendly price plans, and making the thing so damn easy to use have just as much to do with it? It’s no surprise to me that Google has seen 50 times more searches from the iPhone than from any other mobile handset (as reported in the FT last month). I’ve spent the last 3 years in lamenting the fact that device manufacturers make it so difficult to find the place to enter the URL into the browser that most people simply give up. My three year old daughter picked up my iPhone for the first time and within seconds she had brought up the browser, found the space to enter a URL and had started typing away. That was a an ah-ha moment for me about the iPhone’s usability. Mark kind of implies that iPhone owners are using the mobile Web because only because they are naturally predisposed to such use. My gut feeling is that the iPhone is actually “crossing the chasm” into the general public. There is a latent demand for the mobile Web and the iPhone is tapping that demand, where others have failed and continue to fail.

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5 Comments on “iPhone Spurs Mobile Web Usage

  1. I agree completely.

    Further, I think that Mobile Safari will really kick the Mobile Web into gear.

    The issue with mobile web has always been a “chicken and egg” problem. It won’t take off until it’s already taken off.

    Mobile Safari is a great bridge between the “real Internet” and the mobile web because plain-jane websites work as expected in Mobile Safari, but it isn’t optimal. iPhone users will start expecting an experience that fits their device, and BOOM! the mobile web is kick-started.

    In a lot of ways, this situation reminds me of when Apple kick-started USB by making it the main expansion port on the iMac.

    Of course, SJ failed at getting FireWire accepted so it’s probably best to not generalize Apple’s successes. However, I think this situation is more similar to the USB case.

  2. When I’m out and about my iPhone has been my best friend. It gives me quick access to anything and everything I want. Most of the top Web sites that I wanna access have made iPhone-optimized Web sites for it also.

  3. Still relies on your 3-year-old typing though. Not sure mine can do that yet. But she can speak. Half of the world can’t type. They can all (apologies to the dumb) speak. in a more semantic (pics, sounds, people. less text document heavy) web would your thinking about search change?

  4. Well… I didnt say she got much further than that. But she definitely knew what she was doing – because she’s seen us do it on the desktop Mac enough to understand “this is the icon for Web… This is how you get to a web site…” etc… Once she got there she was a little lost. :)

  5. A few weeks ago, waiting for my flight to Dallas to take off, I had a conversation with an old American and his British wife, neither of them techy at all. They owned a thumbdrive-style mp3 player (that their grand-daughter gave them as a hand-me-down when she bought an iPod) and an old minidisc player.

    I handed them my iPhone and an iPod Nano to play with and while they’d never really used a computer before, they quickly grasped the concept of browsing music (like records on a shelf, he said), accessing mail and checking out the web.

    They were the best test subjects I could’ve asked for, neither familiar with Windows or OS X, starting from scratch. By the end of our wait on the runway, they’d decided to get an iPod Touch and potentially get a computer for home.

    I think you’re right, Dan, the chasm has been crossed and the masses will soon be adopting the mobile web. So I hope, anyways! :)

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