Speaking of Benedict Evans, his latest article, Forget about the mobile Internet is indeed quite interesting, and I generally agree with his assessment. However, I’m not sure I agree with how the main stance is worded:
For as long as the idea of the ‘mobile internet’ has been around, we’ve thought of it a cut-down subset of the ‘real’ Internet. I’d suggest it’s time to invert that — to think about mobile as the real internet and the desktop as the limited, cut-down version.
When it comes to pure Web browsing, I consider the experience with my iPhone 5 and the experience with my 15-inch MacBook Pro, and I have a hard time thinking of ‘desktop Internet’ as the “limited, cut-down version” of the Internet. I understand the point Evans is making — it’s time to think mobile-first, desktop-later, but I also believe it’s time to think about better tailoring the internet experience for all devices, mobile and desktop together, without relegating either to a second-class element. Sure, mobile has grown at an incredible pace and it’s now become ‘more important’ than desktop computing thanks to its inherent portability and ubiquitousness:
Mobile is not a subset of the internet anymore, that you use only if you’re waiting for a coffee or don’t have a PC in front of you — it’s becoming the main way that people use the internet. It’s not mobile that’s limited to a certain set of locations and use cases — it’s the PC, that can only do the web (and yes, legacy desktop apps, if you care, and consumers don’t) and only be used sitting down. It’s time to invert that mental model — there is not the ‘mobile internet’ and the internet. Rather, if anything, it’s the internet and the ‘desktop internet’
But that distinction — the internet and the ‘desktop internet’ — sounds a bit unfair as it sounds unfair to consider the ‘mobile internet’ as a cut-down subset of the ‘real’ internet. A lot of people still use laptops and desktops to browse the Web and carry out Internet-related activities. I’ve already seen the effects of putting mobile first in certain areas of Web development, and the result is extremely sparse websites design-wise, which may look cool and functional on a phone, but become horribly bland experiences on a computer with a bigger screen. Computers may be more stationary tools than mobile devices, and mobile devices may now be the first point of internet access today, but that doesn’t mean that the ‘desktop internet’ should now become a second-class experience. The real internet is everywhere, through every device.