A mobile revolution

Originally posted at: businesszone.co.uk11 July 2008 was, in my book, the day that the mobile web became truly accessible. Unless you have been living on Mars you couldn't have failed to notice a certain fruit-based tech company from Cupertino, California that launched its third generation mobile phone on that date. Love it or loathe it, if you are involved in ecommerce you really can't afford to let it pass.With its first attempt, Apple frankly redefined the mobile web experience, although to a limited audience. The resulting scrabble by the rest of the mobile world was a testament to the design brilliance of the original iPhone.However, its latest ability to deliver high-speed, media-rich web content is the real deal. The old methods of mobile web have become redundant and the need to streamline your site by de-styling or creating alternative versions via CSS wizardry has vanished. Ironically, websites optimised for the full screen are now automatically mobile ready. Has there ever before been a case where standing still has given you a major advantage?However, while the iPhone experience is good, it's still not perfect. Although you can read the full BBC news site, it does need some effort. But the effect of browsing a full-page site is revolutionary; bidding on that essential eBay item is now as easy as from your desktop.The mobile web revolution is further boosting the already crunch-busting ecommerce sector. In 2006, mobile web ecommerce was tiny, but predictions for 2008 point to a tenfold increase. If this trend continues, expect the mobile web to be the dominant platform by 2015.If these predictions are to be believed, the mobile web will become the platform of choice and online spending is destined for stratospheric growth. Apple sold one million 3G iPhones in its opening weekend. Samsung, Nokia and HTC all have similar models outselling traditional devices. Google's mobile operating system Android is a few months away from open beta and the most common smart phone operating system, Symbian, is going open source. It's certainly a busy time.No one is predicting an overnight change but the online retailer does need to be prepared. Understanding how your users will be browsing is the key, and there are many design and usability factors to be considered.In ecommerce, ensuring that all of your interconnected plates keep spinning is always difficult. Choosing a technical partner to help to reduce the risk of being left in a technological cul-de-sac makes sense to me, although as the product development director of ecommerce supplier Actinic, I have to declare an interest!The web is on the move again, and possibly controversially, I believe that these latest circumstances show once more why bespoke development has its dangers. The build-once, deploy-many model can be seen to work from accounting systems to online games – wherever software is used. Certainly for a small or medium sized business, having to spend out to have your site redeveloped as the web goes mobile could be a crippling blow.