{e} house studio

How Your Website Will Look on the iPhone and iPod Touch


Mobile 

Aaron Quinn on January 24, 2008

iPhone picThe Mobile Internet has been estimated at over 34.6 million users back in June of 2006 according to the “U.S. Device Census Report for Q2 2006″. Apple expects to add 10 million iPhone users by the end of 2008 and experts estimate another 8.5 million iPod Touch device users, which also support mobile browsing via WiFi. Combined, these three user numbers equal twice the population of New York City. With an audience this size your website can surely expect iPhone/iPod Touch visitor traffic. Our focus today is to explain to you, who may not build websites for a living, what you need to know about your company’s website and how it will function on these Mobile Internet devices.

What Is Mobile Marketing Anyway?

Mobile Marketing has been all the buzz over the last year and it is no wonder why with, “more than 3 billion mobile phones in a world of 6 billion people. That’s 2.5 times more cell phones than Internet connections” says Adverting Age’s Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) 2007 Mobile Marketing Guide. For those of you who are new to Mobile Marketing, the MMA defines Mobile Marketing as, “the use of wireless media (primarily cellular phones and PDAs) as an integrated content delivery and direct-response vehicle within a cross-media marketing communications program. Mobile Marketing can be a marketing use of voice messages, text messaging (SMS), video messaging (MMS), live video and television delivered to a mobile device; downloadable products (games, videos, podcasts, ringtones, wallpapers) and the Mobile Web, including WAP sites.”

Enter The iPhone & iPod Touch

You may already know that Apple’s iPhone is changing the mobile devise market, but you might not know it is also changing the Mobile Web as well. In the past, the Mobile Internet has been made up of mobile sites specifically built for mobile phone browsers using technologies such as WAP. Apple’s iPhone and iPod Touch have changed this by creating the most computer-like mobile browser to date, called Mobile Safari. I am sure you have seen the TV commercial where we are told that the Internet experience on the iPhone (or iPod Touch) is the same as you would expect from your computer. This is true to a certain extent.

Although Mobile Safari does display websites adhering to web standards very similar to your computer, the one major difference with Mobile Safari is the lack of support for Adobe Flash Player. Mobile Safari will not support any Flash content on your website. There are many speculations as to why this is the case (such as battery life) and some people believe that Apple is in no rush to support the Flash Player. The bottom line is that if your website is made up of Flash, the Flash portions of your site will not display on the iPhone and iPod Touch. As you can imagine, this could be a real problem for many companies and their websites. Other plug-ins such as Quicktime, a multimedia platform, have been updated but still work differently on these devices. Below are a few items to consider when evaluating your website.

Things To Know

  1. Flash is not supported and will not display on the iPhone and iPod Touch. So websites using Flash to present information or navigation will not work properly.
  2. Because these devices use Wi-Fi and/or Cingular’s Edge Network, download times will be much slower. This means that if your website is slow to load due to messy code and lots of images, users will have an even longer wait-time to see your site.
  3. The screen on the iPhone and iPod Touch is much smaller than an average computer screen, so anything under 320px will be shrunken to fit the display by zooming out. This means that some things maybe too small to read or require the user to scroll to see everything.
  4. The browser on these devices has a limited RAM (Random Access Memory), therefore webpage content should be under 30MB total.
  5. These devices have no mouse! The mouse is replaced by the user’s finger. Consequently, if buttons or links are to small to click, the user will have trouble navigating the site.

Where Do We Go From Here

If we haven't lost you by now, many of you might be asking well what now? Here are three strategies for going forward.

  1. Do nothing. You my think that iPhone and iPod Touch users are not your target audience. This may be true now. But when you consider the impact the iPod had on the MP3 market, you could make a good argument that Apple’s iPhone and iPod Touch could be setting the standards for the Mobile Web going forward. So your visitors might not be using these devices now, but they probably will be in the near future.
  2. If your website is already close to working on these devices, you can optimize your current site as best as possible. This strategy would be for a website that might already be close to web standards or has minimal Flash. One option would be to remove the Flash portions of the site altogether. If this will not work for your particular website, another option would be to include both Flash and non-Flash elements in the programming. This means that the site is programmed so that if the website is viewed on a regular computer, the Flash portions will be present. If viewed on an iPhone or iPod Touch the Flash portions will be replaced with static images or other supported content. Our current {e} site would be an example of this strategy.
  3. The last option would be to create a separate site specific to these devises only. Examples of this would be www.airtran.com. On a normal browser the site looks like most see it, but if you visit the site on a iPhone or iPod Touch you will see a mini-site designed to make navigating the website easy and with only minimal features that are the most important.

Help

If you are on a Mac (sorry PC People) and don’t have an iPhone or iPod Touch and you want to test your site’s capability on these devices, take a look at iPhoney. For the rest of our readers, please feel free to post a comment below or send us an email and we will try to answer any questions you may have about your current site or future website plans in regards to capability with the iPhone or iPod Touch…or any other questions for that matter (just a little plug).

Update

Read part two of our iPhone and iPod Touch series. Are my customers iPhone users?

Adobe making a mess for them selves by now announcing that they cannot use the SDK to get flash on the iPhone. Not great on Adobes part, it’s never a good idea to over promise and under deliver.

Looks as if Adobe is set on getting some form of the Flash Player on the iPhone whether Apple cooperates/helps or not.

There has recently been much talk regarding Flash coming to the iPhone. Steve Jobs announced that anyone waiting for Flash may be left waiting. Steve Jobs dismisses Flash for iPhone