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    How New Devices, Networks, and Consumer Habits Will Change the Web Experience How New Devices, Networks, and Consumer Habits Will Change the Web Experience Document Transcript

    • How new devices, networks, andconsumer habits will change the webexperienceBy Amy CravensJanuary 22, 2013This research was underwritten by Akamai. Mobile
    • TABLE OF CONTENTSExecutive summary ................................................................................................................................... 4Introduction ............................................................................................................................................... 6 The challenge........................................................................................................................................ 7 Poor experiences equal lost sales ......................................................................................................... 8Factors impacting web experience: Device ............................................................................................... 9Factors impacting web experience: Browser ........................................................................................... 11Factors impacting web experience: Network ........................................................................................... 13 CDN placement ................................................................................................................................... 13 IPv6 ..................................................................................................................................................... 14Factors impacting web experience: Web design ..................................................................................... 15 Page-size bloat ................................................................................................................................... 15 Native apps vs. web apps.................................................................................................................... 16Case studies ........................................................................................................................................... 18 Financial Times ................................................................................................................................... 18 CHALLENGE ...................................................................................................................................... 18 PHILOSOPHY ..................................................................................................................................... 18 MULTI-DEVICE STRATEGY .................................................................................................................. 19 MOBILE STRATEGY ............................................................................................................................ 19 Wal-Mart ............................................................................................................................................. 21 CHALLENGE ...................................................................................................................................... 21 PHILOSOPHY ..................................................................................................................................... 21 MULTI-DEVICE STRATEGY .................................................................................................................. 21 MOBILE STRATEGY ............................................................................................................................ 22Meeting the challenge ............................................................................................................................. 24How new devices, networks, and consumer habits will change the web experience 2
    • About Amy Cravens ................................................................................................................................ 26About GigaOM Pro .................................................................................................................................. 26How new devices, networks, and consumer habits will change the web experience 3
    • Executive summaryDelivering a positive web experience has become exceedingly more complex as the access environmenthas shifted from a desktop-centric vision to one that is increasingly focused on mobile devices — and withpotential for other consumer devices in the near future. Website owners must now consider the customerexperience across both desktop and mobile devices and their browsers, a reality that is alarming for manycompanies. As the access environment has evolved to include mobile devices in addition to desktop ones,it has created pain points in delivering a web experience from the network to the device to the browserand finally to the web design itself. Mobilizing web design is a catch-22; adjusting to design challenges iscostly, but not adjusting is equally costly, because a poor mobile web experience results in a loss ofrevenue.This report will examine what drives content consumption today and illustrate what the changingconsumption of content has meant to the development and delivery of web and mobile content. It willalso examine the evolution of the web experience and explore the challenges of content delivery to bothmobile and desktop devices with a focus on four primary areas: device differences, browser distinctions,network variations, and application performance. Through case studies, the report will provide detailedanalysis of individual company experiences and next-generation strategies for dealing with thesechallenges.Key issues the report will address include:  How the multi-device environment has increased the complexity of delivering web content  How website owners, while struggling to assimilate multiple devices and browsers, are trying to maintain a consistent user experience  How browser fragmentation, a result of the current multitude of browsers, creates an opportunity for optimization  The necessary balance between delivering the best experience for a given device and managing overhead costs  Multiple mobile experiences that incorporate both the mobile web and native apps  The company’s desired relationship with its customers as an important consideration in determining its mobile strategy  How an innovative multi-device strategy will be disruptive to the status quoHow new devices, networks, and consumer habits will change the web experience 4
    •  How a quality mobile experience can advance customer relationships and how a poor experience can terminate relationshipsHow new devices, networks, and consumer habits will change the web experience 5
    • IntroductionThe web, and how we experience it, is very different from what it was a decade ago. While the webexperience has become more sophisticated with the heavier incorporation of graphics and multimediaelements, its performance is faster because of the advancement of networks as well as of content-deliveryand optimization techniques. However, perhaps the single biggest shift in the web experience over thepast decade has been in how we access it. What was delivered just a few years ago over a fixed network tothe desktop is now just as likely to go over a mobile network and be consumed on any number ofconnected devices.Since the iPhone launched, smartphone shipments have skyrocketed. GigaOM Research expectsshipments to have reached 528 million units globally in 2012. Currently 40 percent of adults have asmartphone; that number will likely reach 70 percent in a few short years. Add to these numbers thegrowing tablet market, with an expected 118 million units to have shipped in 2012 (up from just 60million units in 2011), and the enormity of the mobile web becomes evident. Growth in the smartphoneand tablet markets has caused a significant disruption in the web experience, so those along the web-delivery chain must rethink and revise their strategies.Table 1. Global smartphone and tablet shipments in millions, 2010–2012 2010 2011 2012Tablet shipments (in millions) 17 62 118Smartphone shipments (in 270 447 528millions) Source: GigaOM ResearchComplexities in delivering and managing the web experience extend beyond the growth in mobile.Companies are also faced with new challenges in the desktop environment, including browserfragmentation, network evolution, and client-side technologies, so they must invest now to maintain aquality web experience in the desktop environment as well as to create an optimized experience for thevery distinct mobile market. Otherwise, they risk losing business to competitors who have made thisinvestment.How new devices, networks, and consumer habits will change the web experience 6
    • The challengeAlthough users access the web in many ways across a wide range of conditions, performance expectationsacross these varying situations remain fairly consistent. Variable conditions and static expectations havecreated a significant challenge in the delivery of web content.Sites are using richer media and connecting to other applications like Facebook, Twitter, and analyticsmonitoring. Although content is becoming more dynamic and less cacheable, consumers still want it fast.  Akamai, a provider of internet content-delivery technologies, notes in its August 2012 “State of the Internet” report that the global average connection speed is 2.6 Mbps. The report found that mobile data traffic, which doubled from the first quarter of 2011 to the first quarter of 2012, ranges in average connection speed from 322 Kbps to 6.0 Mbps, a variance that can have a significant impact on mobile web performance. Despite the variances in connectivity rates, consumers often expect mobile web experiences to emulate, if not improve upon, desktop web experiences.  Tealeaf, an IBM company focused on customer-behavior analysis, found that consumers expect mobile transactions to be easier than they are offline (51 percent) or on a desktop computer (50 percent).  Gomez, now a division of Compuware, found in 2011 that 71 percent of mobile phone users expect websites to load as quickly on their mobile phones as on their desktops, up from 58 percent in 2009.  An e.Digital benchmark study found that customers expect the same brand experience and product choice they would find on desktop sites and that they also expect the same features.  Google reported in its “New Multi-Screen World” graphic that 90 percent of consumers begin a task on one device (typically a smartphone) and then complete it on another device. Of those using multiple devices sequentially, 98 percent move among devices within a given day. Smartphones are the most common starting place for online activities, while desktops are the most common starting place for more complex activities.How new devices, networks, and consumer habits will change the web experience 7
    • Poor experiences equal lost salesBusinesses cannot afford this inconsistency in customer experience. Consumers expect always-onconnectivity with nearly zero latency on a mobile device as well as on a desktop, an expectation that isoften unmet. Multiple studies link poor mobile and website performance with lost revenue and damagedbrands:  Wal-Mart has shown a sharp decline in conversion rate as average site-load time increased from 1 second to 4 seconds.  Amazon has found that every 100-millisecond improvement in page-load time led to a 1 percent increase in revenue.  Torbit, a provider of web analytics, has found that as the seconds it took to load the first page increased, so did the bounce rate, with the steepest incline between 2 seconds and 6 seconds (the bounce rate increased from 30 percent to 40 percent over that timeframe).  Research from Econsultancy (2011) shows that out of those consumers who conducted a mobile transaction, 83 percent experienced a problem. Of those experiencing a problem, 16 percent became more likely to buy from a competitor.  Gomez found that 60 percent of mobile web users had a problem when accessing a website on their phone. Furthermore, if dissatisfied with website performance, more than 40 percent of smartphone and tablet users are unlikely to visit the site again and more than 25 percent are less likely to purchase from that company across all channels.  Strangeloop Networks reported in its “2012 State of Mobile Ecommerce Performance” that the average load time for DSL was 7.1 seconds compared to 11.5 seconds on an iPhone (over 3G connection).  Mobile commerce-platform provider MoPowered found that 79 percent of respondents felt shopping on a mobile device was slow and difficult to navigate and that 30 percent abandoned a transaction because the experience was bad.  Epsilon and the Direct Marketing Association found in research conducted during the first quarter of 2012 that while email-open rates had increased since the previous year and the previous quarter, click-through rates had declined, likely because emails are abandoned after consumers open them on mobile devices and discover the messages are not optimized. Click-through rates decreased 0.5 percentage points from the last quarter of 2011 and 5.2 percent from the first quarter of 2011.How new devices, networks, and consumer habits will change the web experience 8
    • Factors impacting web experience: DeviceThe broadening device landscape is the most tangible of the four pain points in the evolution of deliveringa web experience. Just as screen size impacts how information is consumed, environmental contextguides the type of information being sought. While desktop and tablet users often search for deeperinformation, the mobile user is often seeking small snippets of easily consumed information compatiblewith the context.Figure 1. Current web content-viewing landscape and environments Former Web Content Emerging Web Content Environment Environment Source: GigaOM ResearchWhen mobile-device users access websites dependent on Flash or Ajax, common problems theyencounter include usability hindrances, navigation paradigm clashes, and screen real-estate managementissues.Those companies with available resources are now developing multiple web experiences — at minimum, astandard and mobile-optimized website. Figure 2 provides an example of a traditional and mobile-optimized website as they each appear on a typical smartphone. However, some companies lack thebudget to manage multiple web experiences; others are unwilling to allocate the resources.How new devices, networks, and consumer habits will change the web experience 9
    • Figure 2. Comparison of standard and mobile websites as they each appear on a mobile device Source: GigaOM ResearchSolutions that allow for better performance of a single website across multiple devices are emerging,though still at a cost to website owners. Capabilities such as responsive design, a web-design technique inwhich a site is crafted to provide an optimal viewing experience across a wide range of devices, improvethe cross-device functionality of a single site. Responsive design reduces resizing, panning, and scrollingso that reading and navigation are improved on smaller screens. It also utilizes media queries andbreakpoints along with other tools to aid in adapting content to different screen-form factors.Site-rendering for multiple-device viewing is spurring a new field that has given rise to several startupbusinesses. Netbiscuits, for example, is a small company specializing in tools such as an XML-codingoptimizer, which helps developers build pages that will display optimally on any device.Improving the viewing experience for smaller screens is important, but screen size is only one elementthat differs on devices. Operating systems, processing power, and memory also affect web performance.Device variance is highlighted in a study from the third quarter of 2012 conducted by website-optimization provider Strangeloop Networks. The company tested 200 leading retail websites over 3Gand LTE networks using six Android and iOS devices: the iPhone 4, iPhone 5, Samsung Galaxy Ssmartphone, Samsung Galaxy S3 smartphone, iPad 2, and Samsung Galaxy tablet. The results show thatpages loaded 9 percent faster on the Samsung Galaxy S3 than on the iPhone 5 (over LTE) and that pagesloaded 22 percent faster on the iPad 2 than on the Samsung Galaxy tablet (over 3G). Again, thesevariances in performance can have a significant impact on the consumer’s level of satisfaction with a webexperience.Some companies are adapting the web experience to the device model. In other words, they are servingthe full site to iPad 2 users but a mobile version to Galaxy tablet users. Device-specific websitemanagement is cumbersome and will become increasingly so as the tablet market continues to diversify.How new devices, networks, and consumer habits will change the web experience 10
    • Factors impacting web experience: BrowserBrowser diversity amplifies the complexity of a broadening device landscape. Websites could once beoptimized for just one or two browsers, but now most are viewed on as many as 10 different browsers andplatforms.These variances are evident even within a device category; for example, Google Chrome performance on aMac desktop is different from Internet Explorer (IE) performance on a Windows desktop. Each websitecreates a profile based on the browser used by the visitor, creating unique performance characteristics.These variances are even more significant when comparing desktop and mobile experiences. Figure 3illustrates the average page-load times across multiple desktop browsers versus browsing speeds onmultiple mobile browsers.Figure 3. Average page-load times across leading desktop and mobile browsers 12 Desktop Mobile 10 8 6 4 2 0 Source: Torbit Source: GigaOM ResearchIn early 2011, Mozilla announced it would adopt a significantly shorter development cycle for Firefoxbrowser releases so that it can accelerate browser development and avoid losing further market share toGoogle Chrome.Key trends in browser evolution and their impact on delivering a web experience include:  HTML5, largely driven by Google and Apple support:How new devices, networks, and consumer habits will change the web experience 11
    • o Application-caching makes applications accessible without an internet connection by allowing web applications to be cached locally on a phone. Application-caching increases speed because cached resources load faster, and it reduces server load by only downloading updates or changes from the server. o HTML5 enables local storage of page data within the user’s browser. Web storage is faster and more secure than cookies. o Supported by HTML5, web worker is a JavaScript that runs in the background independently of other user-interface scripts without affecting the performance of the page.  CSS3 support enables further programming options for web fonts, animations, gradients, and shadows.  Performance improvements engendered through upgrades support faster JavaScript processing, parallel download of JavaScript scripts, more parallel connections, resource pre-fetching, and multi-threading in JavaScript.How new devices, networks, and consumer habits will change the web experience 12
    • Factors impacting web experience: NetworkUser interactions with web content require new strategies in content delivery network (CDN) placement.Furthermore, the industry is encountering capacity issues as online activity continually increases. This isspurring a gradual but necessary transition to Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6).Discrepancies in mobile networks have a significant impact on end-user experiences. In building out theLTE network, carriers promise mobile connectivity up to 10 times greater than 3G, but a StrangeloopNetworks study indicated that web content loaded only 27 percent faster on LTE than on 3G. In addition,4G/LTE is an all-IP-based network that passes information between phone and carrier as efficiently as aweb browser communicates with the internet.One important trend in carrier-network capacity management is offloading mobile devices to Wi-Finetworks to decrease the drain of data traffic on the cellular network. Even so, hotspots have not beenfully utilized as a carrier-network offload option, due to the complexity of differing logins and difficultyconnecting. Efforts such as the Wi-Fi Alliance’s Passpoint program, which removes the multiple-loginbarrier and turns hotspots into roaming networks, aim to improve usability of Wi-Fi as a mobile offloadnetwork.Network performance is also affected by the efficiency in routing traffic across the network. Latency, thespeed at which network components talk to one another, is higher for wireless connections and growswith distance. Table 2 provides a comparison of average bandwidth and latency across network types.Table 2. Average bandwidth and latency with cable, 3G, 4G, and Wi-Fi 3G 4G Wi-Fi CableDownload speed (Mbps) .5 to 3.0 3 to 10 5 to 600 25 to 100Upload speed (Mpbs) .5 to 1.5 1 to 6 5 to 600 2 to 8Latency (ms) 110 to 120 20 to 40 31.9 20 to 30 Source: GigaOM ResearchCDN placementWith an increasing density of users and high-bandwidth traffic, CDNs emerged to help websites ensurethat pages are delivered efficiently, typically by caching popular pages closer to likely users. CDNs andtheir strategic placement in the network can have a significant impact on website performance on bothmobile and desktop devices.How new devices, networks, and consumer habits will change the web experience 13
    • IPv6A final factor impacting network performance for wired and wireless networks alike is the need totransition to IPv6. The internet is quickly running out of Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4) addresses, anaddressing scheme created 40 years ago based on 32-bit addresses and supporting 4.3-billion connecteddevices. IPv6, a newer addressing scheme, uses 128-bit addresses and can support a virtually limitlessnumber of devices.IPv6, however, is not backwards-compatible with IPv4. Some carriers and web content providers areusing translation mechanisms such as carrier-grade NATs and IPv4 address-sharing to be able to supportboth protocols without significant additional cost; however, such translations could slow performance,resulting in the deterioration of a users web experience.How new devices, networks, and consumer habits will change the web experience 14
    • Factors impacting web experience: Web designSite developers must consider the type of content and how it will appear across environments whendeciding whether to create multiple unique websites for each device or optimize a single site and even todetermine if a website is ultimately the best means for delivering web content. How developers andwebsite owners create a site affects performance just as the network, hardware, or software do.Page-size bloatAs website owners and designers increase the complexity of pages with images and third-party scripts likeanalytics, ads, and social-sharing buttons, the size of the average page has grown to nearly 1.3 MB,according to November 2012 stats from HTTP Archive. This page-size bloat has disproportionatelyimpacted mobile users. Downloading 1.3 MB pages can rapidly deplete a mobile user’s monthly dataquota (that would be roughly 1,600 page views for a 2 GB plan or 50 page views per day, which does notaccount for any video or audio consumption). Bloated pages also take longer to download, which is bothfrustrating to the user and costly to the website owner.Figure 4. Average page size in kilobytes (KB), December 2010 to September 2012 Average Page Size 1200 1068 1000 965 1098 1008 784 Page Size (KB) 800 726 831 600 735 400 200 0 Source: HTTP ArchiveHow new devices, networks, and consumer habits will change the web experience 15
    • Native apps vs. web appsIn the mobile environment, website owners must consider whether they will deliver content through themobile web or through a native app. Native apps can provide a richer experience than the mobile web, butthey are often limited in functionality, costly to develop, and unwieldy to maintain for multiple platforms.The mobile web, while offering cross-device flexibility, does not afford as rich of a user experience.Website owners must consider a variety of factors, including user experience, performance, and cost,when determining which path to take (see Figure 5).A company’s decision about which path to take can have significant implications on consumerperceptions. Facebook, for instance, whose iPhone app was exceedingly slow and prone to crashing,received terrible reviews on the iTunes App Store, which adversely affected general user perceptions ofthe company. Facebook has revamped the app with a focus primarily on increasing speed, convertingfrom an HTML5-based app to one written primarily in Objective-C.But increasingly, website owners do not have to simply choose between an unresponsive mobile webstrategy or an unwieldy app strategy. New technologies, including responsive design, HTML5, and hybridapps, are introducing new flexibility in delivering a mobile web experience.  Responsive design. The responsive design process optimizes the user experience by reformatting content to adapt to each screen. Performance tests run by WebPagetest indicate that sites implementing responsive design supported similar load times across screen resolutions spanning from 320x480 to 1600x1200. However, responsive design does not alter the amount of data delivered based on the device type; a mobile user has to download a page that is in desktop proportions on a constrained device across a high-latency/low-bandwidth network, resulting in a poor user experience.  HTML5. HTML5 affords website owners and developers a “write once, run everywhere” strategy. The promise that HTML5 will function the same on a desktop, tablet, or smartphone is not yet reality because HTML5 is still in development. However, HTML5 can be utilized to better optimize a mobile website, or it can be merged with mobile apps to create a hybrid app.  Hybrid apps. A growing opportunity for app design is the hybrid app, a half-browser, half-native app. Hybrid apps are developed in HTML5 and then “wrapped” with native code and deployed to app stores. Hybrid apps maintain the cross-platform capabilities of the mobile web approach (because they are written using web technologies), but they also have access to native APIs, run locally (offline potential) on the device, and have app store distribution.How new devices, networks, and consumer habits will change the web experience 16
    • Figure 5. Comparison of native apps, mobile web, and hybrid apps Apps Mobile Web Pros Pros  Richer experience  Cross-platform capability  Access to native APIs/resources  Discovery--limited engagement  Long-term relationship  Bite-size, timely, topical information  One-touch access  Short time to market  Device-specific look/feel  Performance optimization approaches  Faster graphics performance  Centralized updates  App store distribution/monetization  Written with web technologies  Runs locally, supports offline  Open standards  Native access to phones data  No dependency on app store Cons Cons F  Expensive to develop for multiple  Limited functionality U N Apps  platforms Difficult to build and maintain   No access to most native resources Performance optimization difficult to  Monetization complicated master C  Need to maintain backwards  Device testing a challenge T compatibility  No marketing through app store I  Long time to launch/approval ques O  Increased support costs N A Hybrid Pros Hybrid L  Cross-platform capability I  Lower cost for multi-platform  Written with web technologies T  Access to native APIs/resources Y Mobile  Runs locally, supports offline  App store distribution/monetization Web Cons  Decreased user experience for mobile web delivered content FLEXIBILITY  Offline access for mobile web screens  Multi-platform wrapper requires native and mobile web technology know-how Source: GigaOM ResearchHow new devices, networks, and consumer habits will change the web experience 17
    • Case studiesTable 3. Case studies overview Financial Times Wal-Mart Develop a multi-device strategy that Leverage the web across multipleChallenge creates a unified experience for devices; provide the best online and subscribers in-store shopping experience Build a subscription model that Integrate in-store and online retailingPhilosophy provides multi-channel distribution and create continuity between and supports new devices channels “One customer, one access” Multi-device strategy seeking toMulti-device experience; direct relationship with enhance and unite online, mobile, andstrategy readers in-store shopping Marry the convenience of online with “One Wal-Mart” experience, the relation of flipping through aMobile strategy embracing mobile’s disruptive nature newspaper; create a dynamic, fully by leveraging it to enhance the in-store automated offering with cross-device experience support Source: GigaOM ResearchFinancial TimesCHALLENGEThe challenge for the Financial Times (FT) is to devise a multi-device strategy that creates a unifiedexperience for subscribers and allows for simple incorporation of new platforms and devices.PHILOSOPHYThe Financial Times’ overriding strategy for the delivery of web content in a multi-device environment isto build a subscription model that provides multi-channel distribution and allows for the assimilation ofnew device types.How new devices, networks, and consumer habits will change the web experience 18
    • MULTI-DEVICE STRATEGYThe FT bases its unified multi-device strategy on creating a “one customer, one access” experience. Withreaders accessing content across multiple devices, the FT’s systems must work across platforms anddevices. Consumption patterns do differ by device type (bite-size information delivered on mobile, morein-depth information on tablets and desktops), and content should be targeted to those patterns. The FTworks to achieve a balance between delivering the best experience for a particular device type andmanaging overhead, so it has created sophisticated APIs and a web app that reduce the editorial overheadof packaging content for different devices.The second element of the FT strategy is maintaining a direct relationship with its readers, which iscrucial in developing customers and selling digital subscriptions directly to the consumer. Publishersessentially must become internet retailers and maintain those communication and sales capabilities withcustomers. The need to maintain these capabilities was key in determining FT’s mobile strategy.MOBILE STRATEGYThe FT’s mobile strategy is “the pleasure of leisurely newspaper browsing with the immediacy andinteractivity of a website." The publisher seeks to provide an experience that feels tailored to the device.To create this experience, the FT thinks of mobile in buckets of screen size: small, medium, large, andlarge-wide. It then structures content for delivery on one of the four screen types.How new devices, networks, and consumer habits will change the web experience 19
    • Figure 8. Financial Times mobile strategy grid FT PositioningType of offering Print facsimile Fully dynamic offering FT Positioning(Not sure what this is?) Editorially lead Fully automated FT PositioningDeployment model Fully native Native hybrid Mobile CSS Responsive design FT PositioningPlatform support Android/iOS only Full cross device support FT PositioningBusiness model App store—paid for Cross device—paid for Ad supported Free Source: GigaOM Research The FT strives to create a dynamic, fully automated offering with cross-device support and the ability to maintain a direct relationship with the reader. The client relationship was the foundation for the FT’s mobile-strategy shift. In June 2011, the FT introduced a web app to replace the original native iOS app. Driving this shift in strategy was a new iTunes App Store policy that assumed control over all user relationships of apps within the store. The primary reason the FT launched an HTML5-based web app was to maintain a direct relationship with its customers. The FT valued the ability to continue to offer customers flexibility and freedom of choice with access to content. The web app, accessible at app.ft.com, offers an excellent user experience and drove an increase in iOS traffic of 70 percent after the transition. The often-mistaken notion of discoverability issues with web apps did not prove true for the FT, which reported 3.4-million users accessing their content via the web app as of November 2012. The FT has also leveraged its iOS strategy on other devices through a hybrid strategy that involved creating an app that is 90-percent HTML with a thin wrapper, a move that extends the FT footprint across all three major tablet platforms: Windows, Apple, and Android. This allows a quick and cost- effective launch on new devices, giving the FT an advantage in adapting to a rapidly evolving mobile- device landscape. This flexibility is increasingly important for the FT and other publishers as mobile How new devices, networks, and consumer habits will change the web experience 20
    • activity continues to grow. The FT reports that mobile generates 25 percent of all traffic on FT.com and 15percent to 20 percent of new digital consumer subscriptions each week.Additional statistics of interest:  The FT’s overall digital readership continues to grow strongly, with digital subscriptions exceeding print circulation for the first time at the end of June 2012.  FT.com’s tablet audience is up 111 percent year-on-year (YoY) (PricewaterhouseCoopers-assured, May 2011 to 2012)  Smartphone audience is up 133 percent YoY (PricewaterhouseCoopers-assured, May 2011 to 2012)  30 percent of FT.com subscriber page views are on mobile, showing that its core audience is enthusiastically adopting these channels  14 percent of the FT’s total audience read the FT on more than one channel, an increase of 27 percent YoY (May 2011 to 2012)Wal-MartCHALLENGEThe Wal-Mart challenge is to leverage the web across multiple devices and environments to provide thebest online and in-store shopping experience.PHILOSOPHYWal-Mart’s web strategy of providing customers anytime-anywhere access to Wal-Mart is driven by aneffort to better integrate in-store and online retailing and to create continuity between channels. Wal-Mart envisions a seamless experience across environments, whether in-store, on a mobile device, or athome on a desktop. The company is highly focused on associating intended use with the appropriateplatform and technology in the appropriate context to enhance the shopping experience. This strategy’seffectiveness is then tested and validated through analytics.MULTI-DEVICE STRATEGYWal-Mart has set online sales targets at $9 billion by fiscal year 2014 and is taking aggressive action inbolstering its web presence so that it can achieve that goal. The company is taking a multi-device strategyHow new devices, networks, and consumer habits will change the web experience 21
    • in seeking to enhance and unite online, mobile, and in-store shopping. Much of the emerging webstrategy is being driven by Wal-Mart Global eCommerce, the Silicon Valley-based team that has beentasked with developing core technology to propel Wal-Mart into the next generation of ecommerce.Several innovations – including internal search, social media incorporation, ecommerce enhancements,and mobile developments – have been introduced over the past year. For example, the company is usingFacebook and other social media to drive in-store sales through campaigns such as customers voting onwhich merchandise they would like to see "rollbacks" (temporary discounts) on.Wal-Mart is well-versed in monitoring the results of these strategies, in web performance in general, andin understanding the impact that performance has on business. When running performance tests inJanuary 2012, Wal-Mart discovered that page-load times for the slowest 5 percent of users was reaching24 seconds, a time that was too slow and causing lost sales. The company was able to shave off 8 secondson average load time for the slowest 5 percent, which resulted in increased conversion rates.Figure 9. Wal-Mart correlation of page-load times to conversion rates Source: Wal-MartMOBILE STRATEGYWal-Mart’s mobile strategy unites the online and in-store experience and is poised to be disruptive toretail. The way people experience a store has not changed in 20 years, but now, more than half ofHow new devices, networks, and consumer habits will change the web experience 22
    • shoppers walk into the store carrying a smartphone and present the potential to disrupt the status quo.Wal-Mart is embracing mobile’s disruptive nature by leveraging it to enhance the in-store experience.Wal-Mart envisions one Wal-Mart that seamlessly blends the power of various channels, includingonline, mobile, and in-store.Wal-Mart has recently enhanced its mobile app to promote this merging of mobile and physical retail.The new in-store mode feature of the Wal-Mart app enables customers to create shopping lists, view localads, and access local store pricing and the aisle location of products. Wal-Mart is the only major retaileroffering in-store mode on a massive scale, with the app functioning across 4,000 stores in the U.S.Features of the in-store mode include:  Price checker. Scan product barcodes to check prices and review product details.  Mobile shopping list. View local pricing and more for mobile shopping list items.  Aisle location. Find items faster by viewing aisle numbers for all mobile shopping list items.  QR code reader. Scan QR codes for special offers in Wal-Mart stores.  Interactive local ad. View local ads for store-specific information, including savings and events.  What’s new? See new merchandise and rollbacks available in local Wal-Mart stores.The in-store mode feature was created to incorporate the in-store element without creating an entirelyseparate app. The retailer wished to maintain a singular experience with an app that can flip over into in-store mode to access relevant shopping information and then, with one tap, flip back to ecommercemode. Twelve percent of Wal-Mart’s daily sales on the mobile app occur when a customer is actually in astore and using the in-store mode. The mobile website, which is closer to a traditional online experience,continues to drive more sales than the app, but this integration of the app with the in-store experience,bringing context to mobile, is having a significant effect on how consumers shop.How new devices, networks, and consumer habits will change the web experience 23
    • Meeting the challengeThe task of web content delivery is undoubtedly becoming more challenging. The complexities of themodern access environment, with its multiple device types, networks, and usage scenarios, requires aheightened level of consideration among all those involved in delivering the web experience. Not only docompanies need to make the leap of faith to invest in mobile web-content delivery, but they also are facedwith the conundrum of how to allocate these scarce resources among the numerous pain points currentlyassociated with delivering the web experience. New solutions are meeting these challenges, from morerobust and better-designed networks to improved device and browser performance to site-design toolsthat will optimize the user experience.Among the emerging solutions are:  Analytics. With myriad web-access situations, the need to understand the user’s situation (device type, network type, and environment) has become increasingly important; being able to adapt to changing situations dynamically and efficiently will continue to be an important trend for the industry.  Browser evolution. While a rapidly changing browser landscape can introduce additional complexity, it also allows for rapid incorporation of new functionality to improve the web experience. One example came in the third quarter of 2012 with the launch of the new Nokia Xpress Browser, which is capable of compressing websites and reducing data traffic by up to 90 percent.  Front-end optimization. Front-end encompasses all browser processes involved in generating a webpage, including fetching embedded objects, parsing style sheets, and executing JavaScript. As applications have become more complex and mobile-device usage has skyrocketed, the majority of user wait-time for any given page is spent on the front-end. Front-end optimization aims to reduce the number of requests and the size of the objects required to generate a page while also accelerating visual rendering. This can significantly improve overall website performance across browsers, networks, and devices.  Intelligent traffic routing. Content delivery technologies are being incorporated into mobile networks and allowing mobile operators to manage and prioritize content delivery on their networks. For example, Ericsson will integrate Akamai’s CDN technology into its network equipment, thus allowing more intelligent traffic-routing and introducing edge-caching capabilities to mobile networks.How new devices, networks, and consumer habits will change the web experience 24
    •  LTE. The transition to 4G/LTE networks will provide an increase in bandwidth for wireless data traffic, bringing the speeds for mobile data closer to those for landline service and thus narrowing the performance gap on mobile devices versus desktops (or Wi-Fi-connected tablets).While these emerging solutions are targeted at networks and devices, website owners must alsoimplement techniques that improve the functioning of their individual sites. They cannot rely on carriernetworks to deliver a clunky mobile site at desktop speeds. An un-optimized website is not going toperform as well as one optimized for mobile, no matter what the browser capabilities are.Web experience is becoming an increasingly important component of a company’s competitive strategy. Auser’s perception of a website is not just based on the speed of a page load but also on how quickly thatpage loads compared to other sites the user visits. If a company is not optimizing its site for a specificcontext – whether that is the user’s device, location, or intent – it is at a disadvantage to its competitorsand risks losing revenue. The web experience must be tailored to the specific browser, network, anddevice combination being utilized to deliver the optimum experience. The diversity of user experienceshas created many moving targets that impact web performance. Emerging products will work to simplifythese challenges and deliver a consistent experience. Going forward, web strategies will be a marriage ofefforts from multiple parties, from carrier adoption of LTE enhanced with CDN and analytic capabilitiesto device and browser evolution to website design incorporating capabilities such as responsive webdesign or optimization. The complexity of today’s web environment thus requires similar complexity insolution.How new devices, networks, and consumer habits will change the web experience 25
    • About Amy CravensAmy Cravens is a longtime technology market analyst with domain expertise across a number of areas,including telecommunications, networking, media, software, and hardware. From 2001 to 2003, she wasa lead analyst for In-Stat, helping to pioneer the company’s hotspot and Wi-Fi analysis. Since 2006, shehas been involved in a number of projects for companies and market research vendors as an independentanalyst.About GigaOM ProGigaOM Pro gives you insider access to expert industry insights on emerging markets. Focused ondelivering highly relevant and timely research to the people who need it most, our analysis, reports, andoriginal research come from the most respected voices in the industry. Whether you’re beginning to learnabout a new market or are an industry insider, GigaOM Pro addresses the need for relevant, illuminatinginsights into the industry’s most dynamic markets.Visit us at: pro.gigaom.com© 2012 Giga Omni Media, Inc. All Rights ReservedThis publication may be used only as expressly permitted by license from GigaOM and may not be accessed, used, copied,distributed, published, sold, publicly displayed, or otherwise exploited without the express prior written permission of GigaOM.For licensing information, please contact us.How new devices, networks, and consumer habits will change the web experience 26