19.9.09

Mobile Sites Getting Worse

New findings from Yankee Group offer further evidence that "mobile Internet" remains an oxymoron. Of the 27 large mobile sites the firm evaluated, the average score was 52 out of 100 -- a failing grade and actually two points lower than last year's average.

Sites were judged on criteria including how well they adapt to different devices and networks as well as design and usability.

The report highlights a handful of mobile that actually earned passing grades across three categories: news, sports and search. Both Yahoo News and Google News earned top honors with scores of 73 by not overwhelming users with information and tailoring content to the screens of specific devices.

MLB.com was tops in sports with a score of 71, and also spotlighted for its device detection and ability to tailor content to fit mobile screens. Rivals.com (58) and ESPN.com (57) ranked second and third.

In search, Google edged out Yahoo (81 to 76) with a clean user interface, device detection and location-awareness capability. Google's search score is the highest Yankee has awarded to any mobile site so far and counts as a gold star in this group.

The analysis also looked at the sites of mobile carriers. Sprint was the best of a bad lot, winning the category with a whopping score of 53. Verizon Wireless was runner up with a 34 and T-Mobile and AT&T each came away with a 12 for basically having useless sites. Well done.

Yankee points out the carriers have separate mobile sites reserved for subscribers. "By not having a mobile Web presence, carriers are saying they don't want to serve mobile users unless they can sign up for service first," states the report.

On the consumer side, the report found 31% of phone owners are now accessing the mobile once a month, with news, search and weather the most popular categories. Given the quality of mobile sites, nearly one-third looks like a high proportion.