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Next Generation of Mobiles Offering Too Much Choice?

04 June 2010 - 09:16 by Sarah Collinson

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Whilst it might be heaven for technology fans and for consumers, the rapid diversification in next generation smartphones is creating a headache for online retailers who are simply to trying to ensure that consumers can use such devices to do their safe shopping online.

The mobile market has recently seen a proliferation of devices using Google's Android operating system. These include the HTC Dream and the HTC Magic as well as the Motorola Droid, whilst consumers can also choose from the Apple iPad and iPhone, running Apple's operating system. Then add in Bada from Samsung, Maemo from Nokia and a host of other operating systems and it is easy to see why things are becoming complicated for those merchants hoping that consumers will use their mobile phones to visit websites and engage in safe shopping online.

Even the phone hardware is inconsistent; not all of these handsets come with keyboards, so the first decision merchants and their developers will have to make is whether to design their mobile retail sites for keyboard-using consumers or not. An iPad user, for example, would happily use his or her keyboard to purchase via a mobile site or app designed for a keyboard, but a consumer using a phone without a keyboard would struggle trying to input information whilst online.

Different phones also have different screen sizes and resolutions, which can affect the appearance of online retail websites. On the plus side, mobile phone apps, at least in theory, can be built to work across a range of devices. However, apps are operating system-specific and retailers are now being faced with building apps for each of the different mobile platforms. Whilst there will doubtless be some convergence and development technologies may emerge to provide cross-platform support, the mobile environment lacks the consistency and uniformity of today's mainstream online technologies.