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 Econsultancy.com…

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 m.domain.com 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 Econsultancy.com (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.

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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.

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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…

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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?