The Apple iPhone doesn’t make it into the top 20 most popular phones
for buying things via the mobile internet, according to a study by
Bango.

The research was based on worldwide mobile internet traffic that passed through the Bango network in February.

All
in all, the habits of around 1.1m unique visitors were tracked. One in
four made a purchase of digital content and services, such as videos,
music, games, ringtones and subscriptions, which forms the framework of
the study.

The most popular phone was the Nokia 3110c, followed by the Samsung M800 and the Nokia 6300. The lowly iPhone only managed to limp in at number 24.

As such, businesses would be crazy to focus purely on Apple’s whizzy gadget, according to Bango CEO Ray Anderso:

“To get the most out of their mobile marketing spend, companies who are riding the iPhone wave, attracted by its excellent features and user demographics, need to optimize their mobile websites for all phones – especially those in Bango’s Top 20 handset list. Without this, they will be missing out on the mass market”

He’s right. But it’s not easy. The bigger picture is as wide as it is deep: there are more than 1,800 handsets that accessed the mobile internet last month, judging by the Bango data. This is a challenge, to say the least. Just think about the pain of making a website compatible across the five biggest browsers, and then multiply that by 360!

That’s not to say that you need to make everything amazingly usable for all phones, but the point is that there are 23 phones ahead of the iPhone. Shouldn’t the mobile web be optimised for those handset owners first?

Probably, but then again the answer may in fact be less obvious. There are growth prospects and behavioural aspects to factor in, not to mention the demographic differences between owners of these various handsets. Not all handset users are equal.

For example, if your business operates in South Korea you would do well to look at optimising the hell out of the Nokia S60, which will sell 300m units by the end of the year, versus 40m iPhones, according to predictions.

Of course m-commerce is about more than digital content and services, popular as these mobile-specific products are. It gets more interesting when you ponder the wider range of purchasing opportunities that e-commerce has to offer.

While Bango warns that “spending by iPhone users is restricted to the Apple App Store”, that’s only relevant to the context of its research framework (digital content and services). If we take a broader sweep at m-commerce, we’re starting to see more mobile sites geared up for iPhones without the need for a prior visit to the App Store.

In particular, the Betfair mobile website is a good example. It can be downloaded directly from http://mobile.betfair.com/main/index.jsp, and works very much as an iPhone app does. I haven’t tested Betfair’s site on the other 20 or so handsets that are more popular (globally) in the Bango study, so it would be good to hear about how it works on other phones, and whether Betfair has different versions of the app for different handsets. We’ll do some digging in this area.

At any rate, do keep us posted if you’re a retailer or travel firm that is making moves in this space.