RIM has released a video showing a side-by-side comparison of web browsing on its forthcoming Playbook, measured against the iPad. It shows the Playbook outperforming the Apple device in real world load time testing, industry benchmarks and in the range of content supported.
Web browsing is emerging as the dominant activity on tablet devices, with a Business Insider survey finding it to be the most popular activity on the iPad, occupying 37.7 percent of user’s time. Messaging applications, such as email and Twitter, came second with 23.6 percent.
Commitment to network efficiency is embedded in RIM’s engineering culture and is one of the main reasons why operators continue to give strong marketing support to its devices. Common tasks, such as downloading email or accessing Facebook, are typically several times more efficient on RIM’s platform because of the data compression techniques it uses.
With networks facing increasing strain from the surge in data usage among mobile customers, this ability becomes attractive. It is highlighted in MEX Pathway #1, entitled ‘Define more efficient user experience techniques for an age of network austerity‘, which will be part of the agenda at MEX in London on 30 Nov – 01 Dec 2010.
Robert Crow, RIM’s Vice President of Industry Relations, set out his company’s views when he spoke at the Future of Wireless Conference in Cambridge, UK earlier this year. He claimed RIM’s architecture allowed it to be 5x more data efficient than competing smartphone platforms and suggested this would be particularly significant in emerging economies. Crow said it may never be economic to deploy 3G networks in some parts of the world and the dominant method of internet access would be over evolved 2G networks, such as its own Evolved Edge technology. This would create a requirement for greater network efficiency.
Opera is also finding success with its mobile web browser, which uses server-side technology to compress data by 10x. It is widely used by 2G devices, but also on 3G networks and advanced devices where users want to avoid high data transfer charges.
Latency – where the user perceives ‘dead time’ waiting for a service to respond – is one of the easiest ways to cause poor customer experience. Reducing its impact requires a complex mixture of network efficiency, user interface illusions and device-side performance.