The Mobile Multipart/Text Misunderstanding

I’ve done a number of Webinars and seminars in the last month with a significant focus on the emergence of mobile email and how to optimize emails for both the PC and mobile environment (what Deirdre Baird of Pivotal Veracity calls “cross platform”). What I’ve discovered from these presentations is a number of misunderstandings or myths among many marketers.

For example, one of the most common questions (and misunderstandings) I hear is – “If we send multipart emails (HTML and plain text) – won’t our ESP/software ‘serve’ up the text email to Blackberry devices and other smart phones?”

The answer is no. When someone signs up for the HTML version (if you offer choice of format or if no choice is offered), they are most likely actually being sent a multipart message, which includes both HTML and plain text (if created) versions.

However, today almost ALL smart phones actually accept the HTML version – NOT the text part – regardless of how well or poorly the device renders the message. As such, any HTML message should be ‘readable’ on a smart phone, however, the design of the HTML message and which mobile device/platform receives it will determine how readable the message is.

Some rendering notes on different smart phone platforms include (thanks to Pivotal Veracity for most of this information):

- RIM/Blackberry: All current Blackberry models will render the HTML part of a multipart message. RIM strips out the HTML code and then presents the plain text portion of an HTML email and full HTML links and image URLs. Sometime in 2008, RIM is expected to release a software update that will provide a true HTML rendering experience. Quoting from a RIM press release:

‘HTML and Rich Text Email Rendering – BlackBerry smart phone users will be able to view HTML and rich text email messages with original formatting preserved including font colors and styles, embedded images, hyperlinks, tables, bullets and other formatting.’

- Symbian (e.g., Nokia –with a world wide market share of 65 percent but less than 1% in the US) strips out HTML code and presents the plain text portion of an HTML email. Only full URLs (e.g., not hyperlinked text) are clickable.

- iPhone renders full HTML format. Images are on by default.

- Palm has limited HTML support – does not render images or multiple columns and only some colors.

- Windows Mobile 6 renders full HTML, images are off by default.

2 Responses to “The Mobile Multipart/Text Misunderstanding”

  1. spamfighter
    July 20, 2008 at 1:31 pm #

    Speaking of rendering, Google reader is throwing up all of the curly quotes in the above post.

    Here's what I see over there:

    I???ve done a number of Webinars and seminars in the last month with a significant focus on the emergence of mobile email and how to optimize emails for both the PC and mobile environment (what Deirdre Baird of Pivotal Veracity calls ???cross platform???). What I???ve discovered from these presentations is a number of misunderstandings or myths among many marketers.

  2. Loren McDonald
    July 21, 2008 at 12:07 am #

    Spamfighter – I drafted the blog post in MS-Word and then pasted it into Notepad before posting…but I somehow might have carried some MS garbage with me…

UA-9835597-1