The rollercoaster ride experienced by mobile device manufacturers such as BlackBerry, Nokia and Windows over the last couple of years is the perfect example of the mobile market's volatility. It is a market which continues to grow in complexity and for a brand looking to engage customers it can feel almost impossible to keep up.
The average CMO has enough to worry about without needing to spend time poring over the fortunes of hardware companies. However, with consumers spending increasing amounts of time accessing brands via their mobile phone, surely it's important to know which devices are dwindling in popularity?
In fact, the answer is emphatically not. Instead, a brand needs a mobile strategy that delivers an engaging experience to any customer, no matter what device they're accessing it from.
Let's take a look at BlackBerry. If you were following a device strategy, you may well be throwing your hands up in despair by now. The once wildly popular BlackBerry was facing what many industry commentators viewed as oblivion at the start of 2013. However, recent months have seen its stock leap over 30%, with the new BlackBerry 10 line up hoped to kick start a comeback.
Like Blackberry, all vendors are frantically launching new variations of device, hoping to steal market share and drive growth. Every day brings news of new screen sizes such as the 7' tablet and smart watches, new operating systems and browser technologies, and recently cheaper smartphones which are starting to look like hybrid smartphone/feature phones. And although the mobile web today may well be dominated by Google's Android and Apple's iOS, new players like Mozilla, with its Firefox OS, Sailfish and Ubuntu are threatening to disrupt the market. Google has stirred things up still further, announcing that the rendering engine for Chrome will switch from WebKit, which powers its mobile browser Safari, to a new engine called Blink.
As a brand, the one thing you can't do is rule out any device type or operating system. On the flipside, a brand should never just design for one device or browser that seems to have a stable or 'certain' future because the future is definitely about more variation and fragmentation, not less. The real issue faced by any brand is that mobile is where their customers are, so their mobile site must work everywhere and on any platform.
Consumers don't care about the complexity of the mobile market. They don't care how difficult it is for you to deliver a consistent experience no matter what device they're on. They just want the mobile web to work at all times.
No brand is able to keep with this level of complexity. Brands need to develop multi-screen, multi-channel strategies that put user experiences on mobile devices at the heart of everything they do. And that often means looking to specialists and software vendors that can help rather than try to develop these skills and solutions in-house which can be too expensive and end with poor experiences.
Developing such mobile strategies is undeniably challenging. Our latest Mobile Web Trends Report, measuring more than a billion pages and content items per month in the six months to 31 January 2012, illustrates just how challenging.
For instance, traffic from tablets and set top boxes saw huge growth, with rates of 52% and 138% respectively.
The level of fragmentation of the mobile landscape can indeed be terrifying for the average brand. When your customers are as likely to access your mobile presence via a TV screen as a mobile phone, you certainly don't have time to worry about the fortunes of one manufacturer like BlackBerry.
So what's the answer? It's to deploy a technology solution that ensures your customer's mobile experience will be consistent across any device, yet optimised for the capabilities of each.
Platforms and solutions that use a comprehensive device library and offer the ability to customise and adapt experiences based on user context and device capabilities will do exactly this; future-proofing your websites for any changes in new device form factors and operating systems, meaning your mobile content will continue to be optimised for any device the customer chooses.
The mobile web has quickly become the primary way people interact with brands. The explosion of different devices and the complexity of the mobile landscape means a one size fits all approach to the mobile web is no longer acceptable.
It is critical brands deliver a mobile web experience that adapts fully to the plethora of ways their customers choose to engage with them. Being able to intelligently adapt content based on an accurate and detailed profile of the connecting device is the only failsafe way to do this.