Mobile/Forecasts

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Introduction

The Mobile Web is growing at a phenomenal pace, and it is forecast to overtake the desktop web in 2014. Or in other words, more users will be accessing the Internet through their mobile phone versus their PC for the first time in 2014. Currently, approximately 900 million people access the web through their mobile phones, compared to 1.4 billion desktop Internet users. In 2014, mobile web users will outpace desktop users (1.7 billion to 1.65 billion approximately). In another year, by 2015, the number of mobile phone Internet users is expected to increase to 2 billion. During the same time frame, assuming an annual growth rate of about 2 percent anually between 2010 and 2015 in cell phone subscriptions (77% of world population in 2010 to 87% in 2015), about 6.35 billion people worldwide will have mobile phone subscription and approximately 1 out of 3 ( 2 billion out of 6.35 billion) of them will be accessing the Internet via their phone.[1] These numbers make a compelling case for developing for the mobile web. Since mobile will be the primary portal for accessing the web, Wikimedia should ensure that all Wikimedia family sites have user friendly mobile interface and easier access (both through apps and web browsers).


Mobile Internet is forecast to overtake desktop Internet


Mobile Internet is forecast to overtake desktop Internet


Source: Morgan Stanley Mobile Report

Internet Users

Mobile and desktop Internet users cannot be treated as distinct and compartmentalized groups since there is an overlap among mobile and desktop Internet users. For Wikimedia to develop a strategy for Internet users, it is useful to segment both mobile and desktop Internet users into different market segments. We will use the typology developed by Donner and Gitau[2] of mobile and PC-based Internet use to segment the market into five segments: (1) PC only Internet access (2) Mobile only Internet access (3) PC-Primary & Mobile (4) Mobile-Primary & PC and (5) No Internet Access

Opportunities to expand reach mobile.png

Mobile Only Internet Access

A majority of Internet users in the Global South will come online via the mobile web. Most don't own a computer, and even if they have a computer they cannot afford an Internet connection, especially broadband, making mobile the only platform for accessing the Internet. Although, worldwide the profile of mobile Internet users will vary depending upon geography, ICT infrastructure, income and education of users etc, according to a study conducted by Donner and Gitau of mobile users in South Africa, mobile only Internet users were in their twenties, and had managed to get through their school without PC training. Most of them worked in settings where they did not have PC access.

Suggested strategies
  • WMF should identify promising partnerships with cell phone manufacturers and providers who can bundle Wikipedia content into their product offerings. This is an important strategy since many only mobile Internet users access operators' premium content without even realizing that they are accessing the Internet. As Donner and Gitau point out "the Internet does not begin and end with the browser. Phone manufacturers could have a dedicated Wikipedia icon that would introduce Wikipedia to new users as they come online.
  • Another route for Wikipedia is to establish strategic partnerships with network providers to provide free access to Wikimedia's websites (no data costs). This strategy should be especially targeted towards users who pay for data/KB or have a monthly plan with limited Internet data usage and not those who have monthly unlimited connections.
  • Many of only mobile users will not be accessing the Internet through a smartphone and will use a browser through a mid-end phone. Wikimedia should establish partnerships with mobile phone browsers like Google, Opera and Bing to make Wikipedia a default home page or be available on their drop down menu to reduce the number of clicks required to access Wikipedia on the mobile.
  • While designing the Wikipedia interface for mobile only users, don't necessarily port the PC experience, but design for a 2.5" experience. Apple is the leader in design for the mobile web since iPhone users access the web more than other smartphone users, learn from Apple. To mobile Internet users, the Internet experience is very different, and Wikimedia should be aware of it while designing for the mobile browser. "The internet looks different when it is usually (or exclusively) 2.5” across."[3] Donner and Gitau found that many of mobile only Internet users preferred the mobile to the PC since it was easier to type on a familiar numeric keyboard than on a QWERTY keyboard.
  • Provide support for reading and editing in regional languages. This will entail working with mobile phone manufacturers and mobile browsers that provide Unicode or regional/dual language key boards. Wikimedia will have to work with mobile phone manufacturers to ensure that phone's default browser supports rendering for key regional languages in important geographies. The other option is to raise awareness about browsers like Opera that might not be a default browser, but support rendering of regional languages.
  • Provide new ways of collaboration/feedback that can be done through fewer clicks like ratings of articles.

Technological Implications for Wikipedia mobile

  • For only mobile Internet users fewer clicks are key. Making it easier to search for articles. For example, it is important to have the autofill option for search. A good model is Google Instant where the search engine guesses what the user is searching and serves up different search results even as the user types the query. Help the user find Wikipedia articles through fewer clicks or not having to type the full query.
  • The editing interface should have a graphic user interface to make it easier to edit on the phone. Here again, fewer clicks are key.
  • Many of these users will access the Wikipedia through the browser, don't neglect the browser.

Mobile Primary & PC

Most of these users will not own a PC, but have some PC exposure either in a public space like cybercafes, library, schools or offices.

Suggested strategies
  • These users will also benefit from free or low cost data access to Wikipedia content on the Internet. Wikipedia should form strategic partnerships with dominant network providers in different geographies to make browsing the Wikipedia on the mobile phone free or at a discounted rate.
  • Provide the ability to transfer sessions between mobile and PC.
  • Unlike the only mobile Internet users, mobile primary users will expect to have similar experiences on their phone. As pointed in the study by Donner and Gitau, mobile primary users were able to imagine the Internet as viewed through a browser. For these users, Wikimedia should provide a similar browsing and search experience like the desktop.
  • Provide support for reading and editing in regional languages. This will entail working with mobile phone manufacturers and mobile browsers that provide Unicode or regional/dual language key boards. Wikimedia will have to work with mobile phone manufacturers to ensure that phone's default browser supports rendering for key regional languages in important geographies. The other option is to raise awareness about browsers like Opera that might not be a default browser, but support rendering of regional languages.
  • Provide new ways of collaboration/feedback that can be done through fewer clicks like ratings of articles, uploading pics.
  • Incorporate learnings from similar apps. Research the app marketplace to understand what kinds of functionalities would be useful for users, research what works and what does not work.

Technological Implications for Wikipedia Mobile

  • Provide the ability to share articles/pages across devices via email, bookmarks etc.
  • Since most mobile primary users will still be accessing Wikipedia through their phone, it is important to provide them lightweight tools for collaboration/editing. Create new ways of collaborating --pictures, ratings etc. For example, uploading a picture for a Wikipedia article should be as simple as uploading a picture through the mobile phone to one's Facebook account. Here also, simplicity and fewer clicks are key.
  • Again, searching for content to read should require fewer clicks.
  • Create Wikipedia apps for different mobile platforms.

PC Primary & Mobile

Most of these users will have higher income to own a PC and have Internet access since data costs are higher for the PC. PC might remain the primary mode for reading and editing the Wikipedia for this group, but they might access the Wikipedia on their phone on the go.


Suggested strategies
  • Should have the ability to send Wikipedia articles to either their email or save them (may be in the cloud) where they can be accessed across devices.
  • Provide the ability to transfer sessions between mobile and PC. There should be the ability to access bookmarked Wikipedia pages or saved content across devices.
  • Provide similar user experiences on the mobile and PC.
  • Tools like Huggle which are used by active Wikipedia editors should be available on the phone to make editing Wikipedia easier on the mobile.

Technological Implications for Wikipedia Mobile

  • Create lightweight mobile versions of tools that are Wikipedians are using currently on the desktop.
  • As much as possible, all editing and reading tasks that can be done on the desktop should be ported to the mobile. Primary desktop users will continue to access Wikipedia mainly on their desktop, but provide them the tools for editing on the go.

Mobile users, No Internet Access

  • Services on mobile devices provide health, social and economic benefits to users without mobile Internet
    • Example: One-way text alerts, sent to everyone in a particular area, can be used to raise awareness of HIV
    • Example: Nokia Life Tools is an application running on entry level mobile phones to get updates on agricultural market prices, educational information, career tips and news. The application is designed and offered only in the emerging markets.
Suggested strategies
  • WMF should focus on facilitating third-party application development and reuse of Wikipedia content. Please see the Offline Strategy Wiki for Wikimedia strategies for offline.
  • Provide the ability to SMS/text message information queries to Wikipedia.
  • Provide voice access to Wikipedia content.
  • Partner with services like that provide information through voice or text message.

Technological implications for Wikipedia Mobile

  • Provide the ability to search queries and provide short answers via text message.

Editing tasks & Internet Users

Here is a list of different editing tasks rated on a 4 point scale on ease for different segments.

' Mobile only Internet Users Mobile Primary & PC PC Primary & Mobile Mobile, but no Internet
Rating V Easy V Easy V easy V difficult (SMS)
Small edits (editing a line or two) Difficult Easy V easy Almost Impossible
Large edits (adding a paragraph or more to existing content) V Difficult Difficult Easy Almost Impossible
Page creation (creating new page(s) & adding substantial content) V Difficult Difficult Difficult Almost Impossible
Fighting vandalism V Difficult Difficult Easy Almost impossible
Fixing Grammar (not adding new content, only fixing grammatical errors) Difficult Difficult Easy Almost impossible
Add Image Easy Easy Easy V difficult (SMS)
Add Category Easy Easy Easy Almost impossible
Format article Difficult Difficult Easy Almost Impossible
Edit userpage/talk page V Difficult Easy Easy Almost Impossible

The tasks have been mapped on a 4 point Likert Scale: Very easy, Easy, Difficult & Very Difficult. In addition, we have also added another category: Almost Impossible, if there are technological hurdles or almost impossible due to lack of access to the Internet.

References

  1. (The world population is forecast to be approximately 7.302 million in 2015).
  2. http://research.microsoft.com/apps/pubs/default.aspx?id=102002
  3. http://lirneasia.net/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/final-paper_donner_et_al.pdf