In a recent usability study, users were asked to complete some normal tasks using mobile web sites. Using standard smartphones, the users could complete 62% of the tasks assigned. That seems reasonable for these small and slow devices…but I’d note two things:
1. These were mobile web sites – designed specifically for users of these types of phones. That says to me that we need to do a lot better with our mobile sites. It also indicates that maybe smartphones are a little too small to use for everything. Imagine if we did away with 8.5×11 inch paper and forced content to be communicated on 3×5 index cards? It never happened, even though the “technology” was there.
2. 38% of tasks failed! That’s a huge number if you are trying to sell something, or provide customers with information they need.
I’d also say that the future of the mobile web is very much a question mark. Do all websites need to offer fully functional mobile counterparts, or some sort of hybrid? Meaning that some functionality is available for a mobile site, but not everything. It strikes me that the screen size is a bit limitation, and that people will realize that. Perhaps future smartphones will provide some way to cast a virtual screen that’s larger, or something. In the meantime, I think people will continue to use multiple devices and accept the limitations of each.