Handheld Librarian & Mobile stats

I’ll be speaking later today as part of the Handheld Librarian II online conference. My Powerpoint slides are already online here, but I wanted to note some things I’ll be talking about that didn’t make it into the slides:

First, while there’s many other available frameworks than just the two I talk about, I do want to specifically point out the MIT Mobile Web project. The folks over at NCSU have done a great job implementing it with their library’s mobile site. They’re talking about it in a session right after mine, so I won’t be covering it in too much detail. MIT’s code is fairly robust, but also much more complex to get set up and running than iUI or Jason Clark’s work.

Second, some interesting stats. From two separate reports, both with data about December 2009. Looking at them side by side:

-Apple has 25.9% of the US smartphone market share (in devices sold), but iPhones also make up 54% of US mobile web traffic.

-Android has just 5.2% of the US smartphone market share (in devices sold), but makes up 27% of US mobile web traffic.

-Blackberries have an astonishing 41.6% of the US smartphone market share (in devices sold), but make up just 10% of US mobile web traffic.

There’s an important lesson here to keep in mind when choosing which devices to support with a mobile website. At first glance, looking at Blackberries’ market share alone, they seem to be the platform to support – it’ll get the most users in, right? Not when they use just 10% of all mobile web traffic! The heaviest users, the people we should be targeting now with our services, are on Android and iPhone. By supporting their combined 31.1% market share of devices with our our mobile sites, we’re available for 81% of mobile web traffic. That’s a pretty solid return on investment. I’m not surprised by these results, but it’s always nice to have numbers to back up intuition.

This isn’t to say that blackberries should be ignored – they’re just not the best target audience for a pilot program.

Mobile Site Generator

I’m really excited to launch a side project this morning that I’ve been working on for a while:

Mobile Site Generator

After filling out a form with page titles and few other bits of info, the generator spits out a fully functional mobile site (tested on iPhones, iTouches, and Android devices) ready for uploading to your server as an HTML file!

I’ve been asked a lot of questions about how we made the UNC Libraries’ mobile website. When I start to talk about the iUI framework we used, I see a lot of eyes glaze over. But it’s really easy! I’m not an expert coder, honest, and I made it work. Anyone who has basic familiarity with web development and a little time on their hands to puzzle out a few details can use iUI.

But while I’ve seen a lot of talk about mobile sites for libraries, I don’t see nearly as many actually implementing them. I think a lot of librarians are intimidated. But IUI’s code is actually so simple that I was able to automate its creation! The Mobile Site Generator will hopefully help people over the first hurdle: it creates a framework for a mobile site that you can then tweak & customize to you heart’s content.

As you’ll no doubt see immediately after clicking the link above, the MSG (gee, what a great acronym I picked!) has an interface that’s… shall we say less than ideal 🙂 I plan on making it prettier with time, but I wanted to get it functional and online in time to point it out in some presentations I’m giving in the near future.

There’s more information on what the generator does over on the MSG page. I welcome your comments and suggestions! You can leave comments here, on the MSG page itself, or just e-mail me.