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A comment from someone in a meeting last week that on one of the websites mobile traffic was now 10% of all traffic sent me off to Google Analytics to check the latest position with our main website.  We’ve certainly seen a big year on year growth in mobile use, 2010 saw 8 times the number of visits from mobile devices that in 2009.  This year it looks like doubling.  But still mobile use is around 2% of visits rather than 10%.

Mobile visitsAlthough we do have a mobile website version it hasn’t been promoted heavily and even though it automatically detects mobile devices and directs users automatically to a mobile interface it considers iphones and ipads to be suitably internet capable to be directed to the standard website interface rather than a cut down version.

Digging a bit deeper into the analytics shows that ipad usage is now 50% of what Google Analytics classes as ‘mobile’ use (up from 38% last year).  Based on the first two months of this year ipad usage looks to be up by three times, while non-ipad moble use looks to be increasing by about 20%.  Whilst we are working on a new mobile version of the drupal website we aren’t planning an ipad app version.

What intrigues me is whether ipads really are mobile devices for websites.  The safari browser is perfectly functional (flash inabilities notwithstanding), and although some sites direct you to mobile versions (or like google docs give you the option) it’s a purpose built internet browsing machine.   This year there are dozens of tablet-type devices being launched with a variety of different operating systems.  iPads already seem to be coming up as the ‘mobile’ device most likely to be using our website, internal use plays a part in that.  So it implies for me that we need to be a bit more selective in how we define mobile use (and maybe so should Google Analytics) and split the mobile category into tablet use of the full website and mobile use of the mobile version.

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