Part 2: Setting up a testing environment – Mobile

In the first post on “Setting up a testing environment” we went through some of the many options that are available, but left out an increasingly important segment. The mobile Web is growing at a furious pace and a recent Morgan Stanley report even predicts that “more users will likely connect to the Internet via mobile devices than desktop PCs within 5 years.”

Nielsen data from January 2010 already shows that there are 69.6 million mobile web users in the US alone. With that in mind, Millennial Media is guessing that there will be nearly 100 million mobile Web users in the U.S. by the end of 2010 and that “the mobile Web will reach more than one-half of the consumers on the wired Web.”

comScore recently released data from February 2010 that “234 million Americans age 13 and older were mobile subscribers” and of those, 45.4 million owned smartphones. The EPA estimates that “cell phones are only used for an average of 18 months before being replaced.” How long will it be before practically everyone is accessing the Internet from some kind of mobile device? Considering this, it would be foolish not to add mobile testing to your plans.

Mobile predictions

Mobile Internet Report 1

Mobile Internet Report 3

Figure 1,2 – Mobile Internet Report

1. Research your audience

The first step as always is to find out more about your audience. The mobile Web includes many different devices, including smartphones, feature phones, tablets, home entertainment, car gadgets and other items that connect to the Internet. Depending on your goals, you can refine your testing to only focus on the areas that you have determined your audience to be using.

Mobile devices

AdMob - Traffic Share by Handset Category

Figure 3 – AdMob Mobile Metrics Report

Millennial Media - SMART - US Smartphone OS Mix - Feb 10Figure 4 – Millennial Media

2. Make a list

There are plenty of very good reports from AdMob, Millennial Media and others that can be used to determine mobile market share. More applications of mobile technology are showing up every day, including a recent announcement for an Android powered TV, so it will be up to you to pick what is best for your testing program.

Suggested mobile operating systems to focus on for testing:

  • Apple OS (iPhone, iPod touch)
  • RIM OS (Blackberry)
  • Windows Mobile OS
  • Hiptop OS (T-Mobile Sidekick)
  • Android
  • webOS (Palm)
  • Symbian OS

Mobile shares

AdMob - Worldwide Shares OS

AdMob Handset Data Feb 10

Figure 5,6 – AdMob Mobile Metrics Report

3. Getting to work – Simulators and Emulators

To test all of these mobile devices and operating systems, you could create a testing lab with one of each, but that would be expensive and time consuming. You could also run around the office asking everyone what type of phone they have and begging to use it for a few minutes, but that would get annoying in a hurry. The best option I have found is to use the various simulators and emulators available for development purposes.

Most manufacturers offer a free standalone emulator or a software development environment available for download that you can use for testing purposes. They are easy to install and provide an amazingly accurate picture of how your website will look on a large variety of devices. There are also great sites like mobiReady that will analyze your website and provide suggestions on how it will be displayed and what you might need to correct.

Suggested mobile emulators, simulators and tools to use for testing:

4. Testing never ends

The world is embracing mobile Internet, and technology touches our lives in more ways every day. With that in mind, it is more important than ever to think about how that affects your business and products. Testing can help you uncover the areas that you need to focus on to better present yourself to your customers and to increase your chances in today’s market. Including mobile testing is a vital component to any plan, along with keeping track of emerging trends to update your strategy in the future. We can all improve our outlook with a little thought and planning, so keep on testing.

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