Knowledge Base

There’s more mobiles than humans on Earth and why that matters to

handy giff-staffer

As I’m writing this, GSMA’s real-time tracker is rocketing towards 8 billion mobile connections. This means that for every human on earth, there’s almost 1.1 mobile phones.


Just as impressive, is smartphone sales compared to traditional laptops and desktops.


mobilevspc.PNGSource: Gartner

In isolation, PC growth is quite impressive up to around 2010 when things started looking a bit gloomy for PCs. It wasn’t a coincidence that at this time, smartphones were becoming less of an early adopter toy and more mass market at this point.


That year saw some huge mobile releases like the first Samsung Galaxy S and the HTC Desire running Android Éclair and the iPhone 4. From there, smartphones went from strength to strength and the rest is history.


whokilledthepc.pngWho killed the PC? These guys probably didn't help.

Now, obviously this growth in smartphones has been great for giffgaff, but it’s also been a double-edged sword.


How? Well when giffgaff was a tiny upstart operating out of a small rectory in Beaconsfield, the mobile web was very much in its infancy and we didn't even launch with a mobile-friendly site (somewhat ironically).


Back then, 99.84% of views on were from laptops and desktops. Viewing the web on a phone (or even a smartphone) was awkward as most pages weren’t designed with mobile access in mind. It was therefore quite niche at the time.


Couple that with a tiny, resource-constrained website team and the plan became clear to make our mobile site. Take the full website, chuck out all the nice bits that only work on desktops and then call it a day.


This made complete sense in early 2010, but then the shift to mobile web use came and we had to have a serious rethink.


Mobile usage on our site has increased rapidly. The pace has been even faster this year, with mobile share growing at the expense of both tablet and desktops, as phablets become more and more mainstream. web traffic over time. I sure hope you're enjoying these thrilling line graphs...

So what are we doing about it? Well for the last 3 years or so, we’ve made a concerted effort to make browsing the site on your phone easier. Not only that, but we’ve flipped our development process on its head.


Previously, the design process involved wireframing what the site would look like on PC, then adding the designs to make it look pretty and then adapting this design for mobiles. The issue is that “adapting” for mobile essentially means cutting a lot of the good stuff out. This approach of working backwards to mobile is known as graceful degradation.


These days, we design for mobile first. We now wireframe mobile as a baseline and then grow the design to PC from there.


responsive.PNGProgressive enhancementThis is called progressive enhancement and in summary, it means that mobiles get access to all the functionality they need, while PCs are allowed to get those extra sparkles that the extra horsepower and space allow us to use.


It may seem like a small thing, but in the real-world, this flipped design process makes a huge difference.


While we’ve made some great progress over the last few years, we haven’t quite reached the pinnacle of our ambitions for the mobile site just yet.


Making the site an engaging and enjoyable experience on mobile is top of the list for those involved with the site and will be an ongoing project of ours for some time to come. Today, 74% of views to are from mobiles and that will only continue to increase.


For something that we consider our flagship mobile experience, you should check out the giffgaff app, which is available on Android, Amazon Appstore, iOS and Windows 10.


If you have feedback for the site for mobile, desktop, tablet or whatever device you’re using, drop us a line below or on the Contribute board and we’ll be sure to give it a look.




Great to see giffgaff being a bit more transparent about the stats, and showing them over time. What's happening with redesigning the site to make it fully responsive?


I only use the desktop version of the site myself, but I suspect some commuity users would disagree with; "This is called progressive enhancement and in summary, it means that mobiles get access to all the functionality they need" for the giffgaff site itself. As you say, still more work to do for some time to come, before that is really true here


Also would be interesting to hear if giffgaff have any plans about recycling mobile phones. Giffgaff has turned away from its founding principles of not selling phones (as there is already enough in the world), and the pre-owned stuff is interesting, but I still feel you could be doing more to help with the end of life stage


This really doesn't surprise me ( apart from the fact I had seen those stats previously Smiley Tongue) as the number of mobile phones in our house massively exceeds the number of people. Good blog, thanks.  Smiley Happy

handy giff-staffer

@rong42 - The Community team have been working closely with Lithium to make it fully responsive. They'll have news to share when they're ready to announce something. The main site is much closer to being fully responsive and is the section of the site we have the most influence over.


In terms of phones, I don't have much to add to what's already here:


Rest assured, we are looking into recycling via members and will continue to flesh out the marketplace side of things.




Interesting seeing the mobile phone growth go up and up

Good design strategy. I only ever use a desktop and occassionally a tablet so good to see you are thinking about all angles.


 what future type fones do you think will be like in the next ten years 


I tend to use either a desktop or tablet to access the GiffGaff website. I use the browser on the tablet too but its very slow to load up the pages.....painfully slow. Forgot that there was an app, that should make the tablet experence better.

heavy hitter

That was a very interesting read thanks


conincidentally - smartphones market has now hit a plateau..


i am curious as to what's the next big thing that's going to explode.. smartwatches haven't really taken off


all of the exisiting devices are now complimentary/ supplementary - pc, laptop, tablet, smartphones, smartwatches, basically anything with a screen

74% mobile traffic is much higher than I would have expected for It should reach over 80% by the end of the year. I still prefer the desktop/laptop view for interacting with the Community though.