I consider myself competent when it comes to navigating the internet. But mobile phones and the mobile web are alien to me.
This may soon change.
My current contract expires early next year. Previously, I have been happy with my low-price/basic-handset tariff. But the one-two punch of the iPhone and G1 is winning me over. A near-full browsing experience (excepting Flash on the iPhone) is looking extremely attractive. No more cumbersome WAP connection when I have forgotten to print off directions to my intended destination in advance. I am tempted.
To my untrained eye, there have been several barriers to mobile internet take-up which prevented myself and others from converting earlier. These have now mostly been overcome
- Size – more features require more components. Fortunately, the miracles in miniaturisation that engineers perform are continuing unabated. It surely won’t be long before I can fit a microwave in my back pocket
- Speed – wi-fi broadband has sorted this out
- Cost – paying for each data transfer was a ridiculous barrier to growing this sector. A growing prevalence of all-you-can-eat tariffs is welcome, though limits need to be higher than 1gb if mobile video browsing is going to take off
- Interest – People are increasingly using the web for entertainment as for particular information needs. Fun activities – Facebook, iPlayer, online gaming – are more compelling propositions than functional
- Site Design – Sites will still need to be optimised for mobile screens. But this should be a lot easier now, reducing the need for alternative sites such as the text-heavy WAP versions
- Content – it is surely inevitable that the iPhone will allow Flash. Then the only content restrictions will be licensing e.g. sports rights for Mobile and Web are sold separately. If these rights are combined at the next negotiations, another barrier has been overcome
Will 2009 be the year that the mobile internet finally becomes widespread?
Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/misbehave/