People have been telling us for years this is coming, even before Apple launched the smartphone.

There have been more phones than computers for some time, and sometime in the next few years a very large percentage of those will be Internet-capable smartphones, and eventually the smartphone will just be a phone.

What does this mean for websites?

The mobile web is still somewhat immature.  Like the early website landscape there is an opportunity to be the first to do something, or even just the first in your industry.  If you’re one of the few that actually works on a phone (like this site) you’ve got a big head start for a while.

Unfortunately the server/service side of this can tap the web.  So there are many cases of sites or tools being easily repackaged for phones, or easily converted/built as an application.

Some areas are being served already.  If can manage to build a usable open API that will lower the cost of producing apps in the long run, right now you have to develop separately for each phone type and that can run to tens of thousands.

Want to be sure you exist to the person trying to find a store or service near them right now?

Get food delivered to where I am right now!

I need a tow truck (or rental car) where I am right now!

Or, think of delivering verbal GPS instructions to your hotel or location that are automatically provided to a smartphone with a one touch reservation.  And, more… in one easy button.

Would it be helpful for customers to pay their bills or make purchases while mobile?

While consumer sites are starting to understand the competitive advantage of this technology, we see a huge advantage for business to business as well – particularly as ways to manage distribution systems.

Here are some very easy and low-cost ways to get started:

  • Make sure you own your google local entries on Google, Yahoo! and Bing.
  • Make at least a basic mobile page, even if it is just contact info.
  • Link to the map entry on Google, Google will serve it up properly for a phone. A basic contact page is a couple of lines of code.

Do some planning and see if there are any practical uses your customers could get out of being able to connect to you via their phone.  Or if you should be making sure parts of your business work well with more popular apps.  If an app creates business for you, you should look at the cost benefit of providing it to your customers.

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