Measure for Measure Blog

Time to Stop Calling Mobile Mobile

Written by Andrew Edwards on . Posted in Digital Analytics

mobile signal trucks

Black Friday data has given us an intriguing headline or two about the nature of so-called mobile traffic and conversion rates.

The news–from more than one source–suggests that even mobile platforms considered direct competitors drive widely divergent results. Specifically, it seems that Android users, while accounting for a growing percentage of users, convert (in this case “buy”) at notably lower rates than users of iOS.

So unless you were to break out mobile into two separate dimensions, you’d have to accept an unrealistic, lower number for conversions overall–as if both platforms had performed the same.

Now let’s look at another disconnect regarding mobile: iPads v. Other. In this case, even if you include the officially “not cool” Samsung Galaxy, you’re looking at “Other” equaling less than seven percent of the market. And even “iOS” seems to include the iPad and the iPhone which are really very different devices and get used in very different ways.

Yet another cut would show us that (globally at least), “smart phones” are considered mobile, but they often have near zero functionality as it relates to applications and the ability to make purchases such as generally measured in the US.

Finally, what about laptops? Aren’t laptops mobile? I see them in cafes everywhere I go. They seem kind of mobile. But nobody thinks of them as mobile, even though people carry them around and they get used in places where “PCs” do not. I do understand we currently may not have a way to break them out per OS or other “mobile identifier” but perhaps there is some way to do it, and I think it would be useful.

So we now have quite a number of stripes on the mobile band. They all seem to indicate different behaviors–sometimes very, very different. While it may be a little bit daunting to contemplate expanding the list of categories for marketers to sell into, the fact is, saying “mobile” is not very much different than saying “transportation”. And who would try to measure the movement of trains, planes and automobiles in the same manner?

It’s time to retire the phrase “mobile”. In its place, we should be more device-specific. In other words, one should not endeavor to have a “mobile” strategy. An iOS strategy, perhaps. An iPad strategy, for sure. And a text-only strategy if overseas is a big part of the market. And, looking at some of the remarkably low usage and conversion rates among certain devices, perhaps no strategy at all for some of them.

Mobile has matured, got married, and had children and those children have got married and now there are grandchildren. So Mobile isn’t Mobile anymore.

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