A few months back, during our Web Analytics Day, Eric Peterson kept me mesmerized with his iPhone and I started counting the days when it would be made available in Europe. Then again, I gave in and visited an Apple Store while vacationing in the U.S. but that’s another story ;)
Anyway, as the Apple iPhone is gradually being launched across Europe (and eventually across the rest of the world), this phone is undoubtedly positioned as an ideal high-tech Xmas present, much to the pleasure of AT&T, O2, Orange and other telcos who signed exclusivity deals with Apple :)
No matter the take one may have on the topic of Apple’s marketing strategy, it is undeniable that the iPhone has left its footprint in the Web ecosystem. If only to comply with the excitement/hype/craze, quite a few sites have decided to make a copy of their site available for the iPhone. The first sign of the creation and adoption of iPhone-specific content can be seen in most web analytics tools, in which the market share for the Safari browser increases… but not linked to PCs or Macs! This increase in traffic, although somewhat modest, is an indication that Time Magazine’s gadget of the year is indeed an ideal portable Internet access terminal, with high usability and user friendliness.
Oh yes, and you can also use it as a phone :D
Another telltale sign of iPhone activity is revealed in the screen resolutions report: check for a resolution of 320×396 pixels and bam! that’s iPhone traffic for you.
As you can imagine, the integrated Safari browser provides for a totally new web browsing experience for a mobile device with one major difference with other technologies: the iPhone does not provide you with access to mobile-specific web content but rather gives you access to mobile web content.
Given the size of the screen, and despite amazing usability, navigation on the iPhone cannot match that of our favorite browser on a Mac or PC.
- Google adapted their iGoogle portal, using AJAX tabs, awesome!
RSS based portal
- Facebook– tabs, status update, FB heaven ^_^
- BeeJive : a web-based iPhone app that provides instant messaging (MSN, GTalk, AIM, you name it)
- L’Oreal – L’Oréal France has one of the best iPhone designs out there
- Koreus is a French site serving funny videos, unfortunately, the iPhone does noes support Flash… :(
- Liberation Expresso – French newspaper Libération offers a condensed version of their news section
Check for screenshots at the end of this post.
These sites are all very handy (and sometimes even pleasant to the eye) but they beg the following questions:
- What sort of content should be served for the iPhone? The whole original site? Parts of it?
- Design considerations: should it be spartan (Amazon) or refined (L’Oréal)
- Due to the inherent display availability limitations, how do you find space for banner ads, IMUs or what have you?
- Corollary to this last question:
- How can you monetize such sites?
- What kind of ROI model(s) works for the iPhone?
- Would billing take place via phone carrier’s Internet access plans?
While these questions derive from iPhone usage, they are not limited to the iPhone itself. Indeed, this particular phone and its trademark navigation features are still in a early stage but they herald what mobile Internet could be like in a not-so-distant future, both in terms of usability and business model. A good example is Japan, where most of Internet consumption has already shifted from Macs and PCs to mobile devices.
In the midst of the whole cookie blocking/deletion debate, the good news about the iPhone is that, unless specifically set in Safari preferences, all traffic generated by an iPhone is fully measurable. This means you will get a much finer view of your visitors and of the site’s activity!
Having said all that, if you really wish not to leave any trace of your visit while using an iPhone, don’t forget to use protection! :D
Thanks for reading, happy surfing and good luck with Xmas shopping!