Comparethemarket.com shuns BlackBerry in new HTML5 mobile site

Comparethemarket.com CIO James Lomas has said that while the price comparison website has recently launched an HTML5 mobile site for users searching for car insurance quotes on iOS and Android devices, they have decided against investing in optimising for BlackBerry handsets.

Lomas revealed that the company constantly monitors which devices and browsers mobile traffic is coming from, and Blackberry isn’t featuring high enough on the list to justify the modifications required.

He said that comparethemarket.com is experiencing a sharp growth in mobile traffic, which led to the decision to invest in HTML5.

“We have noticed for a period now that mobile traffic is increasing by about a percentage point per month. We started by launching a tablet site for our travel insurance comparison product, which was very successful,” said Lomas.

“We then also recently released a mobile site for our car insurance comparison product. We went through the process of considering whether it should be a downloadable app or a mobile site, but we ultimately went for a mobile site in HTML5.”

He added: “We went down this route because we thought it would be easier for a customer to compare when they want to compare, rather than having to go through an extra process, like having to go to the app store and download a new application.”

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The mobile site launched in January and Lomas hopes to expand the service to other comparethemarket.com products in the near future. However, he said that the main challenge with developing HTML5 mobile sites is the variation in code required for it to be optimised on multiple Android devices.

“It’s available on any iOS or Android device – but at a micro level, the challenge is making sure that we can support the different manufacturer variants of Android. We found that we had to use physical devices to test, rather than emulation, to make sure we are delivering a first class experience on all of the devices,” said Lomas.

“The main problems were drop down boxes and custom controls – they can behave quite differently, depending on the device. We use a lot of automated testing techniques, but it just increases the extra lengths you need to go to for the variants of Android.”

However, Lomas said that he isn’t yet willing to go to the same effort for Blackberry.

“To be honest we don’t see a large amount of traffic from Blackberry. On a weekly basis we monitor traffic from different mobile devices and browsers, and at the moment it’s predominantly iOS and Android,” he said.

BlackBerry launched its latest range of smartphones operating on its new Blackberry 10 platform last week. It is hoping that its latest products will win back some of the market share it has lost in recent years to the likes of Apple and manufacturers supporting Android devices.