October 06, 2020 I MI Editor I by Daniel Margolis

Mobile Use Dips

Six months into the coronavirus pandemic, we’re still discovering ways in which it and the quarantine it made necessary are disrupting everything. Music Inc. has been reporting on the sales surge it caused all along — Reverb told us sales were up 50% in April and eBay shared that MI sales across the platform were up 35% from March to April.

The widely accepted narrative is that people are buying unobtrusive instruments — acoustic guitars, keyboards, etc. — and learning to play them, or they’re buying podcasting kits while stuck indoors. There may be something to that. In mid-May, Sweetwater CEO Chuck Surack told us that the e-commerce giant’s sales of laptops, a key tool in podcasting and production, were up 90%.

But people are apparently doing something else on their laptops in lockdown: surfing the web.

For years now, the unavoidable reality in website development has been that if your site isn’t mobile friendly then you’re dead in the water. It’s certainly something we’re aware of as a publication. Check out Music Inc.’s new website, which launched in mid-July, on your phone. It’s responsively designed for mobile, with its mix of news and the magazine’s content carefully, cleanly stacked.

Half of your customers are going to be on their phones when they visit your site, at least at some point. According to the website Statista, mobile accounts for approximately half of web traffic worldwide.

Our contacts in MI confirm exactly that. This summer, Eric Strouse, president of Stanton’s Sheet Music in Columbus, Ohio, shared with us that he just happened to notice while poking through his Google Analytics that half his traffic was from mobile and took action in response, and our columnist Tracy Hoeft confirms the same stat.

These’s an unexpected twist here, though. During the strict initial months of quarantine, with people stuck at home, and thus spending less or no time on commuter trains, at the airport, in Ubers, in waiting rooms, in lines — places where they’re stranded and bored — the mobile trend flipped.

“In March and April, with all the shelter-at-home orders, [there] was the reduction in the amount of mobile device traffic to sites, and it increased from the laptop-desktop device type,” said Tim Ahlenius, vice president of strategic initiatives at web developer Americaneagle.com. “We saw a shift from everything going to mobile because everyone out on the go was forced to shelter at home. Mobile device traffic dipped.”

Again, the numbers align here. At the end of July, Apple CEO Tim Cook told Bloomberg TV that the pandemic hurt iPhone sales more than Mac sales. It’d be crazy to move your site’s architecture away from being mobile friendly because of all this. The horse is out of the barn on mobile and if you ignore it now, it’ll become that much more pressing when society finally reemerges from the coronavirus quarantine and gets back on the move. For now, though, this crisis got people off their phones, which, for some, never seemed possible. MI

Daniel Margolis has been a professional writer and editor for over two decades.

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