Thinking about it some, yesterday’s post might have come across as if we were putting ebooks, literacy, and that neat community experiment only inside the frame of smartphones. Sure seems like it doesn’t it? Well, no. Everyone can do that, and your mobile efforts should take into account the capabilities of as many mobile devices as possible when you do those kinds of things.
And I know the refrain, many folks talking things up in mobile ministry have a working experience of what’s in their pockets – and that is often a smartphone. A random survey of just a few folks from the Mobile Ministry Forum pointed to just that. And it doesn’t mean that we are limited to knowing what’s in our pockets. Not everyone has had my experience of being a mobile device reviewer, or owning more than two mobile devices for most of their mobile life. So, There’s some forgiveness that has to be had when we do craft mobile solutions and it sounds like it only meets the needs of the most affluent amongst us.
You don’t see non-smartphones around you (I’ve heard that too)? So, whom are you around? Did you know that globally that about 30% of the mobile phones sold in the last year were smartphones – and that’s out of a total of 1.2 billion mobiles sold (Tomi Ahonen stats, Cellular News stats, Taipei Times). Or, if you are in the USA, you might say “yea, but it doesn’t look like that when I see on TV, in the cafe, etc. that so many have them.” You are right in some respect, of the mobiles sold in the USA, (I think we are just about at) 50% are smartphones (across the national carriers), and rarely are these sold with those persons that use pre-paid accounts (Nielsen). So, if you aren’t seeing them, there’s a question of context, half of the people you interact with will probably not have a smartphone. If you aren’t seeing that, you’ve got to check your associations.
And I know that those who work with/for content creators and media companies that smartphones are a much easier target. The browsers are better, there’s an app for that (grrr), and folks are willing to often flaunt that new device with a nifty case or sound. That’s no excuse though to just target them. We covered Phone Publish last month which is able to get content suitable for the smaller screened, lower-speced, non-smartphone folks, without keeping the content away from them (designing the user experience is harder, I’ll admit that much too).
You want to push apps to everyone, check out GetJar. Get Jar is how many of us who have been doing mobile longer than the last half-decade are familiar with the concept of “app store.” You go to the site on your device, and it recognizes the device you are using and just shows the content that’s compatible with it. Simple right? If you follow the specs for the majority of devices which can download Java/Java-similar applications, then you’ve got a means to get in on those devices. There are other app stores (Nokia Store, Bada Store, etc.), but just wanted to hit on that one since it really does endeavor to hit the most devices.
Some stats are showing that – at least in some regions – that people are using mobile over PCs to get online. So, that really cool developer who wants to do something based on that pretty 22in monitor, tell them to take a few steps back. Concepts like responsive design, mobile website transcoding, etc. need to be looked at just as much as you observe that client requirement of “make it look good on my screen first.”
And if those folks aren’t able to get online, is your mobile strategy doing SMS (over 90% of mobiles are capable of doing text, nearly as many do multimedia (MMS) messages)? What about memory card swapping? Look back at that idea about a book fair, notice how we have a central librarian laptop that is able to serve those devices which might not have the ability to get content via WiFi, Bluetooth, or swapping memory cards. Your church might have gone mobile, but folks can’t go with you if they can’t get what you’ve moved forward with (Pew Internet, via Textually).
So, don’t forget folks who aren’t using what’s in your pocket. Its easy to do (trust me, personal experience like crazy here). You do your witness of the effects of the Gospel when you love on all of your brothers, not just those with the buttons and trinkets that look like you (1 Cor 1-3).