Tuesday 26 April 2011

Mobile Use of Repositories

While looking at the impact of mobile devices on the development of the Web I found useful information in this March 2011 press release from web analytics company StatCounter, charting the rise of Android.
StatCounter data also pinpoints the rise and rise of mobile devices to access the Internet. The use of mobile to access the Internet compared to desktop has more than doubled worldwide from 1.72% a year ago to 4.45% today. The same trend is evident in the US with mobile Internet usage more than doubling over the past year from 2.59% to 6.32%.
I thought I'd see whether this behavior applies equally to repositories and so I had a poke around in the usage states for eprints.ecs.soton.ac.uk and this is what I found:
  • 53,285 PDF downloads from 27 March 2011 (4am) - 3rd Apr 2011 (4am).
  • Of these 33,304 are attributed to crawlers and 19,981 to real browsers.
  • Only 0.93% of the browser downloads occur on mobile devices (70% iOS, 22% Android, 7% Blackberry and 1% Symbian)
The use of mobiles that we are seeing for accessing research outputs in repositories is less than 1/4 of the general use of mobile Internet. An obvious reason for that is the unpalatable mixture of PDF pages and small devices, but popular applications like Mekentoshj's Papers and Mendeley for iPhone seem to indicate that an attractive mobile experience should be possible.
That implies that there's another exciting opportunity for repository developers to up their game!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Les

    The idea that repos might start building "Download To Kindle" etc features was one I was peddling a while ago... http://tinyurl.com/6hpcuks
    ... though it's still on the "when we get round to it" list.

    Pre/postprints tend to be less intricately formatted PDFs than published versions, so (assuming a PDF's the best the repo can expect) ought to be reflowable into HTML/EPub/MobiPocket with a fair degree of success.

    This in turn seems not unrelated to Pete Sefton's deliberations about EPUBs and Scholarly HTML... there's a good idea trying to get out there somewhere.

    By the way, an ongoing project with SOAS is developing a mobile-friendly interface for one of our EPrints-based image repositories. Look forward to sharing the results of that in the not-too-distant future!