Ensuring everyone can participate (Yes, polltogo works on older cellphones too)

Posted by Ralph  |  November 26, 2012

polltogo polls are accessible on feature phones with WAP browsers

Voting on a polltogo poll using an older Nokia feature phone with a WAP browser

Backwards compatibility. It’s not exactly the sexiest topic, but it’s still important. Very important, in fact, if you care about maximizing participation in your mobile polls. Smartphones may be taking over in North America, Europe and a few parts in Asia, but did you know that, on aggregate, worldwide sales of “feature phones” still account for the large majority of mobile phones? Even in the U.S., though sales of smartphones now dominate, their penetration only just reached 50-50 parity with feature phones earlier this year. [source: Nielson data]

So what does this mean? For any given audience, you are going to have a non-negligible amount of people without a smartphone. If you want to engage that audience with a mobile poll — for example, at a live event in an auditorium, or outdoors with a sign asking a question to passersby¬†— you need to consider how to allow those with an older device to participate as well.

A poll using one of the many iPhone/Android poll apps available in the app stores today is not going to cut it. (In fact, even individuals with smartphones probably won’t be able to participate: Do you expect them to download an app, on the spot, using several megabytes of their data plan, just to then participate in your little poll?) One of the websites offering online polls? Yes, the poll will probably display OK on smartphones and tablets, but what about those with the feature phones? Facebook polls? Outside of tablets, they don’t work on any mobile device…

The solution is, of course,¬†polltogo. (Would I be posting this otherwise?) From the start, we’ve tried our best to ensure that polls our users create work on all mobile devices, even older feature phones with a WAP browser.

Though universal device compatibility has been at the heart of polltogo since we launched last year, I was reminded of its importance last week with two polltogo polls initiated in Africa that came to my attention (feature phones account for 82% of mobiles in Africa & the Middle East). One in Cairo, Egypt, publicized by a citizen media organization, to gauge public reaction to recent political events; the other in Ghana, a small poll to assess voting intentions in their upcoming presidential election.

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