The mobile web is dead. Long live the mobile web

16 Apr 2008

When former Yahoo! Mobile evangelist and programmer Russell Beattie yesterday decided to close the doors on his fledgling mobile browser start-up Mowser, declaring the mobile web to be dead, his opinion was met with scepticism by others in the mobile arena.

“I think Russell is throwing in the towel as handsets are getting good enough to no longer need Mowser,” said Dean Collins, employee of US mobile web analytics firm, Amethon.

“I think the key point here is that Mowser was filling a temporary problem with the release of the iPhone and the imminent massive model variants of the Android OS on the Horizon and the sure but steady improvements in the Windows Mobile 6 OS.”

Shane McAllister of Irish mobile firm Mobanode said he agreed with Russell Beattie on one level – that developing purely for the mobile handset ‘should’ be a waste of time.

“The distinction between the web and the mobile web is blurring, hastened by the arrival of the iPhone with a fully featured web browser, not a mobile browser.

“Hence you can visit all normal sites, though some such as Facebook and Digg, amongst others, know you are browsing from an iPhone and present the information to you differently – scrolling predominantly vertically, as opposed to across as well. However, you can access all the features of the standard site,” explained McAllister.

Amethon’s Collins was in agreement: “With a better user experience, more people are finding the convenience of accessing content on the move, or standing still but getting it right where they are standing with a mobile device never far from their hand.”

However, Collins said he is sad to see the demise of Mowser but thinks it may be a sign of the area actually taking off, as it resembles the desktop browser space of the Nineties where there were many fall-outs and successes.

Whatever meaning can be gleaned from Mowser’s demise, whether good or bad, McAllister said the web and mobile web dichotomy “should not exist in an ideal world” but does so now because of the capabilites of current mobile handsets.

“As these devices advance, the differences will ebb away until there is only ‘the web’ – be that mobile or static,” said McAllister.

By Marie Boran