The way in which people choose to consume content is changing more today than it has since the introduction of the web twenty years ago. Computing is no longer confined to our desktops and traditional approaches to web design are failing to manage the diverse sizes and interaction methods which feature in modern devices.
It has become clear that we are now moving into what the industry has termed the “Post-PC era”, where traditional PCs will play a reduced role. We are seeing the first wave of new forms of computing devices as mobile phones and tablet enter the marketplace with growth greater than traditional PCs have ever seen.
Mobile devices with strong app platforms and highly capable web browsers are selling strong, the smartphone market is growing faster than the PC market ever has. In 2009 Morgan Stanley predicted that mobile devices would eclipse the traditional PC market in the United States by 2013. While this sounded like a bold prediction at the time, it actually occured in this year (2011), two years earlier than their prediction.
Here in the UK over 20% of these users do not access the internet in any other way. These mobile-only users exist in similar numbers throughout the developed world and are even even more numerous in emerging markets. In Africa and Asia the mobile-only userbase accounts for over 50% of mobile internet users and in many developing countries mobile users outnumber PC users online.
The research shows that there is already a significant market of mobile web users and that the growing diversity of devices shows no sign of stopping in the near future. With the high expectations of service our users are now used to, failing to meet their needs is not an option. Only by changing our methods and using techniques such as responsive web design can we begin to create systems flexible enough for the changes ahead.