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Retailers need to heed the “device long tail” and the mobile web, not just apps, warns study

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Retailers have been warned that there is more to mobile services than getting an app and that they should instead be looking at the ‘device long tail’ of feature phones, smartphones, wifi-enabled music players and games consoles when thinking about how to maximise uptake of mobile web spending from consumers.

A report published today by mobile web platform developed Netbiscuits shows how mobile websites are accessed by hundreds of thousands of unique mobile devices. It proves that the mix of devices varies strongly by market, by industry, and over time and gives evidence that not only smart phones, but also web-enabled feature phones, music players and gaming consoles are highly relevant mobile web access devices.

The report reveals that the majority of mobile web requests come from the long tail of devices even in those markets were Apple’s iconic iPhone is by far the dominating mobile web access device.

“Today thousands of unique devices are used for mobile web access. The vast majority of them generate a share smaller than 1% of all page requests,” says Michael Neidhoefer, CEO of Netbiscuits. “However the impact of these devices should not be underestimated. Netbiscuits stats show that in most cases the major amount of all page requests is generated by this long tail of devices. Optimizing your mobile service only for the few devices that dominate your market, industry or target group intentionally locks out the majority of your potential users and limits the profitability of your mobile business.”

In April 2010 Netbiscuits handled more than 2.5 billion mobile page requests coming from 2585 unique devices, globally. Among them only Apple was able to claim a remarkable share: 30.69% of all page requests were generated by the iPhone, 8.16% by the iPod Touch.

Eleven more devices from BlackBerry, Motorola, Android, Palm and Nokia had a share between 3.53% and 1.07%. Each of the other 2572 unique devices generated less than 1%. While Apple devices generated 38.85% of all mobile page requests in April 2010 the other 2,583 devices generated 61.15%. So nearly two thirds of all requests to the Netbiscuits mobile publishing platform were processed by the long tail of devices.

“To set up a sustainable mobile strategy you should launch a mobile web site first,” Neidhoefer adds. “Such a site will give your customers immediate access to your content and services on any web-enabled mobile device worldwide. The metrics of this site will show you exactly for which platforms it is recommendable to set up an App in addition.“

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