Eight out of 10 brands not ready for mobile

IAB conference: M&S singled out as brand optimised for mobile commerce
IAB conference: M&S singled out as brand optimised for mobile commerce

Nearly eight out of 10 brands working with Google do not have a mobile-optimised website, and they should learn from leading retailers such as House of Fraser and Marks & Spencer, according to Ian Carrington, head of mobile (EMEA), Google.

Speaking at the IAB Mobile Engage 2011 today (14 June), Google's mobile leader painted a picture of a current landscape filled with brands not ready for the mobile explosion.

Carrington told the audience that of the brands that Google worked with at a global level, "79% do not have mobile-optimised sites", and warned they were already missing out on "such a big opportunity" in terms of mobile commerce.

Other speakers at the event in London included Guy Phillipson, chief executive of the IAB; Ashley Highfield, UK managing director of Microsoft, and Edward Roussel, digital editor of Telegraph Media Group (TMG).

At the IAB Mobile Engage 2011, which Phillipson dubbed the "biggest mobile advertising event in the world", the potential size of mobile commerce proved to be an enduring theme.

Ashley Highfield, UK managing director of Microsoft, noted that the traditional barriers to m-commerce, such as high costs and the clunkiness of buying goods and services, were eroding.

He said that the arrival of 100% broadband coverage in the UK – a key plank of the Government’s Digital Britain initiative that has been kept by the coalition leadership – would have a profound impact on mobile.

"The impact on mobile should not be underestimated," he said.

Earlier this year, Google chairman Eric Schmidt made the high-profile comment that if companies "don’t have a mobile strategy, then you don’t have a strategy".

Carrington – while tempering that he did not wholly endorse this view – said that brands were falling short in the performance of their mobiles sites, citing problems such as being difficult to navigate, and brands not having a well-thought-out strategy.

However, there were examples of mobile websites that stood out from the crowd for the right reasons.

Carrington pointed to examples of mobile websites that stood out as eBay, Amazon, Ocado, Paddy Power, Marks and Spencer and House of Fraser.

Carrington cited the M&S site as being "easy to navigate" and a "simple drop-down site".

Other issues discussed at the event included the merits of tablets, and whether they could be construed as mobile devices.

Tim Hussain, head of platform development and partnerships at BSkyB, argued that the tablet was a mobile device, pointing to the fact that they were portable and boasted a battery life for 10 hours, like mobile phones.

But Daniel Rosen, head of mobile of AKQA, however argued that: "If it doesn’t fit in your pocket and ring, then it is not a mobile device."

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