Death knell for mobile web?


15 Apr 2008

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The mobile web is “limited at best and dying at worst” said former Yahoo! Mobile evangelist and programmer Russell Beattie as he shut down his mobile browser start-up Mowser barely a year after its launch.

“I don’t actually believe in the mobile web anymore,” said Beattie in a post on his official blog, explaining how he has come to believe that a web experience developed solely for the mobile handset is just not a concept that is taking off.

“Two years ago I was convinced the mobile web would continue to evolve in the west to mimic what was happening in countries like Japan and Korea, but it hasn’t happened, and now I’m sure it isn’t going to.”

Although there are around three billion mobile phones in use worldwide, Beattie claims the argument that this is tilting the online market in favour of the handset over the PC is simply not true because the current browser experience on a handset is not full enough, unless you are using a device like the iPhone or Nokia N95.

“Let’s face it, you really aren’t going to spend any real time or effort browsing the web on your mobile phone unless you’re using Opera Mini or have a smart phone with a decent browser – as any other option is a waste of time, effort and money,” he said.

Mowser was developed by Beattie as a service that takes regular websites developed for a standard PC or Mac browser and optimises or converts them for a mobile experience.

Theoretically, this gave Mowser an unlimited market but Beattie said analysis of the traffic passing though his site showed around 80pc was related to porn with an absence of a general market.

“Let me say that again clearly, the mobile traffic just isn’t there. It’s not there now, and it won’t be,” he said with an air of finality on his blog.

The solution, said Beattie, is the smart phone. Statistics may support this conclusion: a recent survey by US tech trends firm iSuppli showed that US consumers spend on average 12.1pc of their time using the iPhone for the mobile web, while users of other mobile handsets only use the net on their handsets 2.4pc of the time.

By Marie Boran

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