When Size Does Matter: Mobile Browsing A Mixed Bag Of Experiences


Credit: Samsung

Given Google’s love for the Web and the relative lack of Android tablet applications as opposed to iPad applications, you’d think Android Web browsing on a tablet like the Xoom or Galaxy Tab would be a compelling experience. But that’s not often the case, according to a new study.

Blaze, which offers Web tools to improve site performance, looked at the browsing experience on both phones and tablets and found that top Web site operators recognize either iPhones or Android phones in roughly the same proportion (42 percent of the time with the iPhone, 38 percent of the time with Android) and serve up a mobile-optimized site. However, of the sites that detect a mobile device 84 percent don’t distinguish between Android tablets and Android smartphones, returning the same mobile site optimized for a small smartphone-like screen as opposed to something more suitable for the larger screen of a tablet. By contrast, 92 percent of those sites were able to identify the iPad as a tablet and serve up either a tablet-optimized site or the regular desktop version.

In a world of mobile platform fatigue, the results speak to the difficulty faced by companies in trying to support everyone. Not only are there two leading mobile operating systems that require native applications, but Web sites must be optimized for mobile browsing and now further segmented for phones versus tablets. It also shows that Android tablets are still not on the radar when it comes to real-world usage.

This is even more complex in the Android world, where tablets and phones use multiple screen sizes based on the desires of the hardware manufacturer. Even if you decided to optimize your site for Android browsers, what size would you pick? The 10.1-inch screen on the new Galaxy Tab? The 7-inch screen on the HTC Flyer? The experience could be very different.

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