Announcing my focus on mobile

January 10, 2011 1:13 pm | 9 Comments

For over a year I’ve been saying that I want to focus 100% of my time on mobile performance. I’m finally there. It might not be literally 100% of my time, but I hope to spend most of my research cycles investigating mobile.

My approach to building a practice around mobile performance will follow a similar path as what I did for desktop web:

Identify what to measure wrt performance and services to measure that.
Gather a set of tools that provide visibility into performance issues. Since there’s a lack of tools in this space we’ll have to build them.
Analyze mobile performance problems using the identified tools and metrics.
Best practices
As a result of this research gather the tips & tricks that have the biggest impact on improving mobile performance.
Get the word out! Write case studies, blog posts, and books(?). Speak at conferences
Build tools that spot the performance problems that are most important to fix.
Provide services that automatically apply the performance fixes.

My initial focus is mobile devices over wifi. This allows me to nail down the behavior of mobile browsers independent of the wrinkles introduced by the mobile network. Once the mobile browser variables are well understood I’ll look at the idiosyncrasies of the mobile networks themselves. I’m especially excited to build an archive of transcoding behaviors that harm performance. I’ll dig into the performance of native apps once the behavior of mobile web performance is well understood.

I have a slightly ulterior motive for this announcement. I really want to speak at Mobilism May 12-13 in Amsterdam. (If you do mobile development make sure to register early.) Unfortunately, the speaker schedule is full so I have to convince the organizers I have enough good stuff to present that they need to somehow fit me into the schedule.

Tune back here tomorrow for my first announcement on mobile tools. (Assuming I finish it tonight.)

9 Responses to Announcing my focus on mobile

  1. Cool news Steve!

    Looking forward to hearing what you’re working on. It’s an area sorely in need of better tools.

  2. Ah – but I got rejected from the speaker roster too. So I’ll by watching this tactic with interest ;-)

  3. You can start here:

  4. Maximiliano Firtman has a lot to share in his book ( and presentation at Velocity 2010 (

  5. Looking forward to reading the research.

    Please keep your focus cross-browser – Android and iOS seem to have the biggest mindshare at the moment but Opera Mini/Mobile, Firefox and other WebKits are important too.

  6. Hopefully you’ll be talking about your Episodes white paper with the ability to inject timing episodes into the document for analysis and also discuss automated testing/scripting and how it might be implemented in the Mobile browser.

  7. Excellent news that you’ll be focusing on mobile. I see lots of areas in mobile that could use some “focus”, and performance is a great one to have someone looking at, as it ends up driving directions for other areas anyway (design, etc).

    I’ve been doing some mobile work myself over the last year, getting a semblance of Web Inspector to be able to work remotely, on mobile devices. Work is currently here – . Not much for you to play with, as the interesting resourcy-measurement stuff is currently not there, since it requires native support which I don’t have. However, there’s always various tricks available. :-) One thing I want to look into soon is enabling the Web Inspector extension mechanism for weinre, and then perhaps I’ll be able to “glue in” additional tools to it, more easily (at all, really). Will be watching this space closely!

  8. I wonder how many mobiles (marketshare) now actually support HTML5-offline cache and/or media-queries proper.

  9. @Lennie: You should write a Browserscope user test to test this. I’ll tweet the URL if you do.