A developer perspective on mobile trends and why they matter.
Smartphone growth is flat. That's the bad news. But for developers, there's a lot of silver linings in that cloud.
The latest Internet Trends Report (from Mary Meeker at Kleiner Perkins) says there has been zero growth in the number of smartphone shipments from 2017 to 2018. That means the crazy high growth numbers seen in previous years are gone—and that the market in terms of units shipped is no longer growing.
In a related statistic, Meeker says the trend of smartphones getting better, faster and cheaper has also continued. While there was plenty of talk about last year's phones reaching prices points of over $1,000, the reality is that most people are getting more phone for less.
So What Do These Trends Mean for Developers?
First, as in so many cases, we can't look to ourselves as examples of what most of our users represent. If you're like most developers we know, you're probably using a fairly new and fairly expensive smartphone. But most people don't.
When we're building our mobile apps and sites, we need to remember to test for the average—or even the below average—device. Unless we're building games or other graphically intensive projects, it's important to build sites that will run reasonably well on less than the top-of-the-line smartphone. As a corollary to that, it's also important to choose UI components that are lightweight enough to perform well and look good regardless of device. (We're partial to Kendo UI for obvious reasons.)
Second, these trends mean that we can't expect our sites will be visited by people who are new to smartphones. While it's important to provide guidelines and clear instructions for those new to the device, we have to keep people coming back through value and the quality of what our code does, not relying on a steady stream of new device buyers.
Of course, most of us are building B2B sites, not consumer-facing. But a related Kleiner Perkins stat shines a different light on this flat smartphone growth: while the growth in smartphone shipments is flat, the amount of time people spend on their smartphones continues to increase. (All this despite recent high-profile discussions of helping people better budget their screen time.)
As developers, this means two things. First, as we mentioned earlier, our sites need to be fast and easy to use on a mobile device. With more sites and apps demanding time, our sites need to deliver what they promise efficiently. Whether you're building a mobile app or a website, your UI choices can dramatically improve that.
Second, if our usage metrics support it, we as developers need to continue to ensure that our mobile UIs and Web UIs are strong and lightweight. Of course, we recommend Kendo UI and Telerik UI for Xamarin to achieve that goal. If you don't already have a license, download a free 30-day trial of our DevCraft bundle, which includes these tools (and much more) today.