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Performance

Only 22% of Mobile Sites are Ready for the Amazon Fire Phone

The first of Amazon’s Fire phones will ship later this week.  It’s yet to be seen if the phone will be the disruptive technology success Amazon hopes for or a commercial flop, but we do know that many online retailers are not prepared for it.  Yottaa recently sampled 150 top mobile retail websites (“m.dot” sites) and only 1 in 5 were able to handle the new phone properly. The rest of the sites (78 percent) will present Fire phone users the unoptimized “desktop” version of the site — a surefire poor experience on a phone.

Amazon As Goliath (Why This Matters)

Much has already been made of the Fire platform’s integration with shopping.  Users of the phone will be able to seamlessly move from browsing the web to shopping, and will have an unlimited subscription to Amazon Prime service that includes free 2-day shipping.  So for retailers already desperate to prize customers away from Amazon’s shopping environment, this phone, if successful, will make the uphill battle even steeper.

That’s why this seemingly small redirect issue really matters.  In a crowded online marketplace where tiny tweaks to copy, design, and performance can mean thousands of dollars gained or lost, presenting the wrong website version means you are as good as offline.  Put differently: even if you can compete with Amazon on price (few can), offer free shipping to everyone (also uncommon), and have a great looking website, it’s unreasonable to expect anyone to navigate your site on a mobile device with all the pinching, zooming, and awkward clicks involved in using a desktop site on a mobile device.  Much less someone with the easy alternative of seamless access to Amazon.

There are precedents for this problem.  The Android/Motorola XOOM tablet’s user agent string was not recognized as mobile/tablet for quite some time by many eCommerce platforms. But in the case of a mobile phone the need for a specialized solution is even greater than on a tablet due to the smaller screen real estate.  The more people who buy the Fire phone, the more money will be left on the table for the unprepared retailers.

How We Tested

To determine this figure we ran tests on the Internet Retailer 500 websites with a user agent string that matches that of existing devices with the Fire platform and several others, including the iPhone.  The results showed that while 150 of the 500 sites redirected iPhone users to a mobile site, only 33 of those sites redirected Fire phone visitors.  That means there are 117 sites that have invested in a mobile “m.dot” site (meaning they do not have a responsive web design solution in place) who will fail to recognize Fire phone users as mobile and send them instead to the desktop site.

We will be tracking this issue further in the coming weeks — we’ll see how fast the 117 sites can get their acts together.

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