This mobile web thing is getting serious

Google tops third annual Yankee Group list of best mobile websites

Not only is Google the world's leading online search site, it also runs the world's best mobile website, according to the Yankee Group.

The analyst firm on Tuesday announced results of its third annual survey of mobile sites. And the difference between now and the stark mobile landscape of 2008 is dramatic, as IDG reports:

According to Yankee Group director, Carl Howe, mobile web sites are getting better every year with online shopping proving to be the best improvers. He added that apps, such as those found in Apple's App store, were not included in the survey. "The mobile Web is no longer a novelty," he said. "When we started doing this two years ago this was actually pretty was only one year after the original iPhone showed up and as a result there weren't as many mobile Web users.

Not so now. According to Howe, there are 205 million mobile data users in the U.S., with Yankee forecasting 125 million smartphones being activated here by 2014.

Yankee's awards covered four categories: technology, retail, transport and national wireless carrier sites. Testers in New York and San Francisco accessed the 48 sites being judged on a number of devices and via four major networks -- Verizon Wireless, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile.

Among the top factors determining the rankings were page-loading speed, the volume of data downloaded from a site and access reliability.

In the technology category, Google finished well ahead of runner-up Bing, with 81 points to 70. AOL earned a grade of 69.

The overall runner-up was retail category winner Walmart, which had 75 points, with Best Buy finishing second with 68 points and grabbing a retail bronze with 67 points.

Three transport sites tied for first in that category with 73 points each -- Amtrak, JetBlue and San Francisco's Bay Area Rapid Transit mobile site.

This next part is interesting: The four national wireless carrier mobile sites weren't up to snuff, with Sprint leading a sorry field with 59 points. AT&T and Verizon each had 15 points, while T-Mobile had 14.

How is it that wireless carriers allow themselves to have such bad mobile websites? You'd think they'd care about their images, if not their subscribers.

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