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Responsive Design Killed Desktop Revenues

Responsive Design Killed Desktop Revenues
Neil Capel
  • On June 17, 2013
Neil Capel
A successful track record of working on large-scale, high-demand web systems led Neil to develop Sailthru's Smart Data solution. Prior to founding Sailthru, Neil was the Chief Technology Officer for MusicNation, an AlleyCorp company, ASmallWorld, and MoneyMedia (acquired by the Financial Times). Neil is an adviser to several startups,including and Neil was also named to the The Silicon Alley 100 as one of New York City's most influential technology leaders. To learn more visit Sailthru.
Neil Capel

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Admit it, you’ve recently made a failed attempt at tapping or pinching your desktop’s screen only to remember that it’s not, in fact, a touchscreen or mobile device. Today, success for brands comes down to a screen factor. Companies should concentrate on more than developing for desktop or investing in a native mobile app, because those priorities are too narrowly focused to drive conversion. You may still have the urge to see desktop and mobile as separate realms, but that is simply no longer the case – adapting to this new screen reality (touch) is the key to market dominance, customer conversion, and internal sanity.


Consumers are evolving and so must your business. This is not a merger of two platforms or even the emergence of a new one – desktop is going away, completely. I’ll say it again; it’s a screen factor only. It may not happen today or tomorrow but it will happen in the next 2-4 years. Put your energy in mobile and you’ll be ahead of the curve. Forget about the mouse and keyboard – they’re over – only focus on touch. Users are going mobile and so are your revenues.


Earlier this year we saw Intel abandon its desktop motherboard business and double down on smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices – this is not a fluke. This isn’t Intel going rogue and everyone else being realistic – this is Intel being smart. Intel said it best as Forbes quotes, “The internal talent and experience of twenty years in the boards business…is being redistributed to address emerging new form factors.” Amen. A focus on mobility doesn’t mean a new department or a few hires – it means you need to pick up your business, turn it towards mobile, and put it back down. If you don’t buy in, there might not be a place for you anymore, but you’re right to figure that out sooner rather than later.


Think about this in terms of mobile commerce. eMarketer released a report in January of this year that showed US mobile commerce increased 81% to approximately $25B in 2012 alone. They attributed this to three things: more smartphone shoppers, the immediacy of mobile purchasing, and the growth of tablet shopping. One tap shopping with a stored credit card on, say, the Gilt app, is financially dangerous these days. The craziest statistic eMarketer shared is that in 2013, 15% of all retail commerce will happen on mobile. I repeat, this is not a trend, this is a basic shift in customer behavior that is, at its core, easy to adapt to for businesses.


Another way to look at this is through the lens of mobile marketing and emails received and read on mobile devices. MarketingLand cited digital marketing agency, Knotice’s report on email marketing. They said that 41% of consumer emails were open on mobile in Q3 and Q4 2012 – that number is expected to surpass 50% in 2013. For reference, that number was at 13% at the end of 2010. This report covers all types of mobile devices – phones and tablets and iOS devices as well as Android. It doesn’t matter what kind of mobile it is right now – the bottom line is, it’s mobile.


This change is undeniable and it’s not about spending a bunch of money on developing an app for your company. It’s about responsive design and committing to the shifting screen factor. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if your customers are on one operating system or another – neither is going away. iOS and Android will always co-exist. What matters is that your brand, your products and content, and, most importantly, your shopping cart are easy to use and simple to convert on any smartphone or tablet. So forget the mouse and keyboard; everyone is going to be trained to think and interact with brands via a touch interface. Companies need to think mobile only, not mobile first, before they get left behind in the desktop graveyard.




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