So how big a deal is iPhone adoption? Is it all about the apps? Or are increasing numbers of iPhone users using your website, just on their phones? 

I took a quick look at the stats for

Whilst I've always bought into the argument that, in an ideal world, you should design a version of your website to work optimally on a phone (increasing numbers of URLs now out there...), the extra costs and complexity of doing this, across so many handsets and operating systems, has always seemed daunting. So the business case has been a tough one, apart for some brands and targets markets, particularly whilst there is still so much 'low hanging fruit' in web/online before worrying about mobile. 

I've always wondered whether it wouldn't be easier just to wait until handsets, and improved connectivity and flat rate data tarriffs, made the web browsing experience on the phone good enough that you didn't *need* to create and maintain a whole separate version of your site.

And now that I've finally got an iPhone I still find myself thinking the same. Yes, in an ideal world, we'd optimise our site for mobile. But, you know what, browsing our site on my iPhone is actually pretty OK. Certainly good enough. There are still many other higher priorities for the website which means it's hard to see mobile getting much of a look in for the time being.

But I wanted to check what our usage stats for iPhones looked like for our website.

You can use Google Analytics' Advanced Segmentation to look at just iPhone data for your site. However, I actually find it more helpful to look at the iPhone as just another browser so that it can be compared more readily with what else is going on across the site. There is a useful post on How To Tell iPhone Visitors in Google Analytics from back in 2007 which uses screen resolution to do this. Actually the numbers doing it this way, and using GA's iPhone segment are near identical, so I guess this approach would be the same for other analytics solutions. 

So, here's some data for (using the screen resolution approach to identify iPhone usage)... And bear in mind, of course, that we're a highly skewed sample of iPhone/Android-a-holic digital marketing types:

1. % site visits by screen resolution over last month

Noteworthy in below graphic: The iPhone (320X396) comes 7th. And remember the 'standard' we all used to design for, 800X600? That languishes as position 15 with less than 1% of our visits and the iPhone generates 3X as much traffic. Go figure.

(Click on image to enlarge)

2. iPhone usage growth and usage behaviour in 2009 so far

Noteworthy in below graphic: yes, it has grown, but not *that* much or *that* quickly. And most of the major usage KPIs (bounce rate, average page views per session, time on site etc.) are all *worse* than the average, as you might expect, confined to a smaller screen on a slower connection.

(Click on image to enlarge)

3. Sales / Conversion Rate for iPhone traffic in 2009 so far

Noteworthy in below graphic: the conversion rate is way below average and we've only made 1 actual sale this year. The per-visit value is only 1p. However, given our complex registration process, and the full checkout process, I'm mildly amazed we've had any conversions to membership (paid or free) at all...

(Click on image to enlarge)

So the short conclusion would be, on iPhone usage for our website:

  • It's growing but not hugely fast (yet)
  • All the key KPIs (site usage, commerce) are below average, as you might expect, but they're not zero, and growing.
  • We're a B2B niche player with a complex conversion process for higher value sales, so in a higher volume B2C business, with a simple conversion process, you can absolutely see how big iPhones no doubt already are, and will become, even just as another 'web browser'
  • This is just for iPhones but really I should widen to BlackBerrys and other smartphones. Then the numbers would be bigger...

What are you seeing on your sites in terms of phone usage? Do you think the business case stacks up to do a version just for mobile, or better to wait until the devices "catch up" and it just become the internet, but on your phone? 

Ashley Friedlein

Published 23 September, 2009 by Ashley Friedlein @ Econsultancy

Ashley Friedlein is Founder of Econsultancy and President of Centaur Marketing. Follow him on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn.

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Comments (5)


Robert Frost, Director at AdStorm Ltd

We are seeing similar stats for our sites - just under 1% of visitors are on Safari / iPhone.  Nevertheless customers still demand sites visible on tiny laptop screens, but don't seem bothered about how they look on mobile devices.  Maybe mobile device users are more willing to accept a compromise.

almost 9 years ago

Rob Mclaughlin

Rob Mclaughlin, VP, Digital Analytics at Barclays

i tend to feel the difference is between information and transaction. Info pages get strong performance on mobile but a lack of trust in mobile transactions mean that these figures are lower.

almost 9 years ago



you wrote:

"....Whilst I've always bought into the argument that, in an ideal world, you should design a version of your website to work optimally on a phone (increasing numbers of URLs now out there...), the extra costs and complexity of doing this, across so many handsets and operating systems, has always seemed daunting. So the business case has been a tough one...."

Well this is not the case anymore - there are services and solutions that allow you to create a mobile site that is fully synchronized with you website (always) and supported by all smartphones..

I can provide you with more info if you are intrested.

almost 9 years ago

Ashley Friedlein

Ashley Friedlein, Founder, Econsultancy & President, Centaur Marketing at EconsultancyStaff

Hi Gil

Sure - feel free to post some info/links. But I assume you're still talking about a version of the website which is optimised for mobile phones? As opposed to a very different experience which is specifically designed for mobile phones (e.g. Facebook app etc.)? I think the latter makes more the sense but I can't see how any software could automatically provide this? The former is fine, too, but I think the phones themselves are doing an increasingly good job of this anyway?

almost 9 years ago



Hi Ashley, 

Thanks for your comment, please let me know what is the best way to contact you.


almost 9 years ago

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