Last Sunday, three of our team managed to tear themselves away from their PCs for long enough to run the BUPA 10k in London in aid of Barnardo’s.
The hottest day of the year so far made the going slightly tougher than it should have been, but the spectacular views of Buckingham Palace, St Paul’s Cathedral and the London Eye, coupled with the fantastic support along the route from spectators, steel bands and even a barbershop quartet made it all the easier.
We even managed to raise over £500 for Barnardo’s in the process.
If you’d like to, there’s still time to sponsor us on our JustGiving page….
On the 5th of January 2012 Microsoft celebrated the decline of its own web browser; Internet Explorer 6, by baking a cake and throwing a party. Internet Explorer 6 (IE6) has been a thorn in the side of the web development industry for many years due to it’s lack of Worldwide Web Consortium (W3C) standards. The main implications are that web developers frequently have to go back over a ‘finished’ project and tweak it to work in IE6, adding additional days and costs onto the project. The Internet is awash with many ‘hacks’ that can be used to force IE6 to display elements in the same way as the other popular browsers however the end result is never quite as clean.
Microsoft’s cause for celebration was due to the market share of IE6 dipping below 1% in the US. Microsoft, who created IE6 in 2001, have been putting in a lot of effort to kill the browser once and for all; in March 2011 Microsoft created a websitedisplaying the usage statistics across the world in an attempt to educate about and dissuade users from using the browser.
The world-wide market share for IE6 has gradually been declining as users upgrade to more recent versions, or, switch to a different browser altogether. In 2011 market share for IE6 dropped by over 4.5% (11.9% in Jan 2011 down to 7.33% in Dec 2011), however, in January 2012 IE6 showed a surprise rise in market share, up to 7.93%.
In the UK IE6 currently holds a 1.4% market share due in part to large corporations who refuse to update based on cost and time implications. On a worldwide scale China holds by far the greatest market share, currently holding over 25% of users worldwide.
IE6 is only compatible with Windows XP, an operating system released by Microsoft in 2001. All modern computers come with the more recent Windows Vista or Windows 7 installed which both start with more recent versions of IE as standard (IE7 and IE8 respectively). Windows XP has seen a similar rate of decline as IE6 over the past few years, however, at the beginning of 2012 Windows XP also showed a resurgence in users, again caused in large part due to China.
On the 15th December 2011 Microsoft announced that from January 2012 IE would start to automatically update as part of the Windows Update feature built into the Windows operating system. The scheme would gradually roll out across the world in an attempt to automatically upgrade all users from IE6 to the much more recent Internet Explorer 9. Users will still have the ability to opt out of these updates by disabling automatic updates in Windows Update.
As a whole the web industry is trying to eradicate the use of IE6 due to it’s cost implications on projects. Many web developers refuse to test in IE6 in an attempt to force IE6 users to upgrade manually. When thinking about a new projects we encourage our clients to consider the cost implications of IE6 on their project – is the extra cost required to ensure the website displays correctly in IE6 worth 1.4% of potential users?
The launch of the iPhone in 2007 opened our eyes to what was possible with mobile computing and captured the hearts of many millions of users (over 183 million of them so far). From a developer’s point of view it was a massive leap forward for mobile, for a couple of reasons:
For the first time we had a web browser that could accurately reproduce everything we can do on the desktop web (except Flash of course but that’s a can of worms…) including not just HTML4 and CSS but proper HTML5 and CSS3 support, surpassing most desktop web browsers. This meant that users could enjoy the ‘whole web’ and we no longer had to build simple cut down versions of websites to work on less compatible devices.
Secondly, although ‘apps’ had existed before (there was a fairly popular java app ecosystem already in place on Symbian devices, e.g. Nokia phones), Apple coined the phrase ‘app store’ and put them all in one accessible and easy to use marketplace. The popularity of mobile apps soared overnight and this business model has subsequently been copied by the likes of Google, RIM (Blackberry) and Microsoft.
The popularity of the iPhone caused an explosion in mobile web usage and developers had to start paying attention, but success breeds imitation and unfortunately some businesses are still making the mistake of thinking that iPhone is still the only kid in town. The truth is that it’s not even the biggest these days and could be in third place by 2015 if recent analyst reports are to be believed.
The trouble is that most people only own one mobile phone, which isn’t surprising really. This means that business owners only have personal experience of one platform and often disregard the rest. I’ve lost count of the number of times we’ve been asked to build an iPhone App, with no mention of Android, Windows Mobile, Blackberry or WebOS.
If you want to plan an effective mobile strategy for your business then it’s important to be guided by statistics and empirical evidence rather than anecdotal evidence and personal experience.
iPhone vs Android statistics
The smartphone race is currently a two horse race between Apple and Google.
Despite a year long head-start, iPhone sales were overtaken by sales of Android devices a while ago (2010 according to Nielsen) and Google are still activating more Android devices on a daily basis that Apple are shipping iPhones. The current share of smartphone ownership (January 2012, worldwide) is as follows…
1) Android – 46.9%
2) iPhone – 28.7%
3) Blackberry – 16.6%
4) Windows Mobile – 5.2%
As I mentioned earlier, research from Gartner even suggests that Windows Mobile, buoyed by their exclusive partnership with Nokia might have knocked Apple into third place by 2015.
Despite the figures, developers and agencies have been guilty of ignoring other platforms too. Many agencies only use Apple kit in house and have been slow to see the potential of other platforms, often citing the fact that iOS users buy more apps and spend more money per head. This has been historically true but the difference is now marginal and when you consider the number of Android devices in consumer’s hands the situation has turned round massively.
The upshot is that developers, agencies and their clients are coming round to the idea that ‘iOS-only’ is a bad strategy and one that’s going to leave more than 50% of their target market in the cold. That also applies to tablet PCs (The iPad is still top dog but not for much longer). A recent report by research firm Ovum (http://ovum.com) says that 2012 will be the year that many developers will start to go ‘Android-first’, testing the market with an Android app first before creating an iPhone version. In my opinion this doesn’t make sense either, but it shows just how much the mobile landscape has changed.
Of course, it’s more expensive to develop two, three or even four versions of your new app, but in an upcoming article, I’ll explain how HTML 5 apps could save the day and lower development costs for ‘multi-platform apps’.