Peter M Howard ::

Not The Mobile Web, just A mobile web

13Jul2008 [myth]

In which I’d prefer the web on my mobile to the mobile web

Read an interesting rant about the state of "mobile", How long will we be trapped in this mobile hell hole, which includes the following gems:

that doesn’t change the fact your concept is good but the market is shite


The sad reality for this mobile world of ours — at least, in the UK, Europe and the States, is that it’s decades away. Sodding decades.


There’s so much demand for ‘concept’, it’s causing a dull ache between my shoulders.

The key take-away, for me, was that there are still two obstacles to making anything of mobile — the devices, and the carriers. The devices are getting better — things like the iPhone or some of Nokia's N series — devices that come with real browsers — are going to make people use their mobiles more, and differently. But the carriers are still shocking here in Australia. The amounts of data that are being offered on plans with the iPhone are piddling (I'm going to wait until the early adopters have gone through a few large phone bills and start complaining, because until then, don't expect the telcos to change).

The Alternative

Om's latest, New iPhone Will Jumpstart Demand For Wireless Broadband, provides an interesting (and more optimistic) alternative. He points out that while the 3G iPhone experience is a huge leap, the network won't handle too many people using it at once. But the inclusion of wireless makes it easier for people to get used to the idea of the web on their mobile devices.

No one's yet worked out a business model that works for mobile broadband, and here in Australia we're somewhat limited by sprawl, but they're getting there (both Optus and Telstra have included "access to our wireless hotspots" as a feature of their iPhone plans).

All told, I'm still convinced the future is the web, not the "mobile" web. Where they converge is having the web delivered on mobile devices — but it's going to be the "real" web, not a cut-down carrier-controlled version of it.

Aside: the iPhone

I've had a separate rant brewing coming out of various discussions around the iPhone's release here in Australia. I keep seeing companies trying to hop on the iPhone bandwagon, and they're all coming from the old-school control-the-experience mentality. First there's Adobe, with all their assertions that Flash on the iPhone is just a "licensing" problem. While they've not announced it officially, they unofficially push the line that they've got Flash running just fine. But the elephant in the room is the fact that Mobile Safari just isn't written to take plugins. Apple have very deliberately left that architecture out, and without the two companies working closely together, the most we'll see is a stand-alone Flash player, with all the sand-boxed limitations of other iPhone apps (including, importantly, limited CPU and memory usage).

And then there was Telstra, who were a little late to the iPhone party because of their insistence, in negotiations with Apple, that their Sensis properties be loaded by default on the iPhone (ie, replacing Google). Eventually Telstra caved — they offer all that through their web portal anyway. But it was fascinating to see a carrier used to controlling everything have to give in. (I'm not naïve enough to think Apple's fighting for the little guy though — they want to control the whole experience just as much as the carriers do).

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