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Mobile Web

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page director: Brian D. Butler

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Mobile Web


One of the more interesting trends in technology is the movement of the internet away from the computer, and onto devices that travel around with people, such as cell phones, iPods, iPhones, PDA's, and so on.  The tech community is very excited about the possibility of bringing "location-based services" in which the cell phone industry knows where you are, and social networking and advertising services can be delivered to you based on people and services near your location.  This opens up the possibilities for mobile advertising, mobile VoIP, and much, much more....


Market growth (especially in the developing world)


The number of mobile phones that can access the internet is growing at a phenomenal rate, especially in the developing world.   In China, for example, over 73m people, or 29% of all internet users in the country, use mobile phones to get online. And the number of people doing so grew by 45% in the six months to June—far higher than the rate of access growth using laptops, according to the China Internet Network Information Centre.  This year China overtook America as the country with the largest number of internet users—currently over 250m. And China also has some 600m mobile-phone subscribers, more than any other country, so the potential for the mobile internet is enormous.



related topics from KookyPlan, see also: 



Money making business models


The total value of mobile data services exceeds the value of paid services on the internet, and was worth 31 billion dollars in 2006 (source Informa). The largest categories of mobile services are music, picture downloads, videogaming, adult entertainment, gambling, video/TV.



Advertising on the Mobile Web


Main article: Mobile advertising

Advertisers are increasingly using the mobile Web as platform to reach consumers. The total value of advertising on mobile was 2.2 billion dollars in 2007 [2]. A recent study by the Online Publishers Association reports that about one-in-ten mobile Web users said they have made a purchase based on a mobile Web ad, while 23% said they have visited a Web site, 13% said they have requested more information about a product or service and 11% said they have gone to a store to check out a product.




SMS - Short messaging system


The SMS feature spawned the "texting" sub-culture. In December 1993, the first person-to-person SMS text message was transmitted in Finland. Currently, texting is the most widely-used data service; 1.8 billion users generated $80 billion of revenue in 2006 (source ITU).


Many telephones offer Instant Messenger services for simple, easy texting. Mobile phones have Internet service (e.g. NTT DoCoMo's i-mode), offering text messaging via e-mail in Japan, South Korea, China, and India. In Europe, 30–40 per cent of internet access is via mobile telephone. Most mobile internet access is much different from computer access, featuring alerts, weather data, e-mail, search engines, instant messages, and game and music downloading; most mobile internet access is hurried and short.


Mobile news services are expanding with many organizations providing "on-demand" news services by SMS. Some also provide "instant" news pushed out by SMS.






Smart phones



Smartphones are also not yet a mainstream, full-blown ‘mobile web’ proposition. Perhaps the iPhone will change that?  The iPhone has accelerated the process begun by Symbian, and the rollout of Google’s Android and open source phones like OpenMoko may help, but it will be a few years before the devices are completely freed from reliance on the network





Mobile advertising



Mobile advertising is the dream of all cell phone based business models.  They see it like this:  everyone has a cell phone, and everyone keeps that cell phone with them at all times.  Also, the cell phone knows where you are (which area code).  It doesn't take much imagination to see how companies could profit from this by delivering local ads to you from local businesses, clubs, restaurants, and so on.   The main issue is privacy, and in coming up with creative ways in which to embed these ads into other content so that it doesn't become a bother for users.  




Mobile VoIP


VoIP is a technology that allows users to make cheap phone calls over the internet.


Although some firms such as Jajah and Truphone have offered VoIP on mobiles the technology is still relatively nascent. However, 2008 could be the year the technology takes off. Towards the end of 2007, network operator 3 launched a Skype phone that allows users to make calls using the service, already popular for making calls from PCs. Handset-maker Nokia also offers four phones with the ability to use the technology. "We plan to add VoIP enabled devices to the existing range," said Mark Squires of the firm.


But even with the backing of a heavyweight such as Nokia, not everyone is convinced that 2008 will be the year of mobile VoIP. "Mobile VoIP is still at a very early stage," said Mike Roberts of analysts Informa Media and Telecoms. "It's very disruptive but it will be a slow burn, to my mind,"


read more: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/7147804.stm



Municipal Wi-Fi


As cities in the US launch their Muni WiFi projects, there will be lots of opportunities for companies to offer new mobile services.  If you know that the outdoors will have hi-speed broadband internet access, then all sorts of new Innovations are possible


municipal wi-fi

see also WiMax


The widespread availability of 3G data cards for laptops on fixed monthly rates could hasten the demise of the pay-per-use services” forcing the operators to do more deals to offer free access like the one between The Cloud and McDonalds. Bill says “I wouldn’t be surprised to see free wireless in Starbucks by the middle of the year



Location based services


More and better location-based services, such as the newest version of Google Maps for mobile, and mashed-up with social networks. (Something I’ve been predicting for a while).



With the combination of mobile phones + location tracking + internet....there should be some very interesting business models in the future


see more: map




mobile social networking


Mobile social networks is the natural extension of internet social networks such as MySpace and facebook.  People are looking toward a future when computer based social networking, dating, and such can be integrated with mobile computing and allow business models to spring up that offer interactive social networking through the cell phone.  It may not sound like much now, but imagine trying to explain MySpace five years before it launched (and was a massive success).  Its the kind of business model that will likely someday be a massive movement, but seems unnecessary before it exists.  Pleas feel free to add your thoughts here...






Mobile Reviews 


  • Whrrl, a mobile social network for sharing opinions about locales



Mobile product search





Mobile & Streaming Media







Phone tethering allows users to access the internet from their laptop computers wherever they get service on their cellphone carrier’s data network. The feature is common on many phones with high speed (namely 3G) data access, and has been noticeably absent from iPhones. While 3G is typically slower than most Wi-Fi access points, having internet connectivity on the go is a huge plus for many people - enough so that many carriers charge on the order of $30 a month to enable it.


Investors in mobile web:






Mobile Web - Wikipedia review


The Mobile Web refers to the access to the World Wide Web using a mobile device such as as cell phones, PDAs, and other portable gadgets connected to a public network. Such access does not require a desktop computer, nor a fixed landline connection.

Services on the Mobile Web can include capabilities that do not exist on the traditional Internet, such as SMS text messaging.

However, Mobile Web access today still suffers from interoperability and usability problems. This is partly due to the small physical size of the screens of mobile devices and partly due to the incompatibility of many mobile devices with the format of much of the information available on the Internet.




See also: List of mobile phone standards


The development of standards is one approach being implemented to improve the interoperability, usability, and accessibility issues surrounding mobile web usage.


The W3C Mobile Web Initiative is a new initiative set up by the W3C to develop best practices and technologies relevant to the Mobile Web. The goal of the initiative is to make browsing the Web from mobile devices more reliable and accessible. The main aim is to evolve standards of data formats from Internet providers that are tailored to the specifications of particular mobile devices. The W3C has published guidelines (Best Practices, Best Practices Checker Software Tool) for mobile content, and is actively addressing the problem of device diversity by establishing a technology to support a repository of Device Descriptions.

W3C is also developing a validating schema to assess the readiness of content for the mobile web, through its mobileOK Scheme, which will help content developers to quickly determine if their content is web-ready. The W3C guidelines and mobile OK approach have not been immune from criticism. This puts the emphasis on Adaptation, which is now seen as the key process in achieving the Ubiquitous Web, when combined with a Device Description Repository. An alternative approach is to adopt a Multi-Web Practice whereby for a given theme a set of URIs for different devices are developed with each URI having content appropriate to its designated device. A bookmark for this set of URIs held in an array is known as an AGI (Array of Graphic Identifiers).


mTLD, the registry for .mobi, has released a free testing tool called the MobiReady Report to analyze the mobile readiness of website. It does a free page analysis and gives a Mobi Ready score. This report tests the mobile-readiness of the site using industry best practices & standards.


Other standards for the mobile web are being documented and explored for particular applications by interested industry groups, such as the use of the mobile web for the purpose of education and training e.g. Standards for M-Learning Project




The Mobile Web primarily utilises lightweight pages written in Extensible Hypertext Markup Language (XHTML) or Wireless Markup Language (WML) to deliver content to mobile devices.


Applications for the mobile web are developed using the Six M's (formerly Five M's) service development tool created by the author Tomi Ahonen with Joe Barrett of Nokia and Paul Golding of Motorola, and referenced in numerous books and industry literature. The Six M's are Movement (location), Moment (time), Me (personalization), Multi-User (community), Money (payments) and Machines (automation). The theory was first introduced in the book Services for UMTS by Ahonen & Barrett in 2002.


New tools such as Macromedia's Flash Lite or Sun's J2ME enable the production of user interfaces customized for mobile devices. In any case, with the increasing movement away from website-based content towards delivery via RSS, Atom and other formats in which content is divorced from presentation, the issue of microcontent becomes less of a problem as the device rather than the content-provider is enabled to specify how the content is displayed.


.mobi:  Top Level Domain


The .mobi sponsored top-level domain was launched specifically for the mobile Internet by a consortium of companies including Google, Microsoft, Nokia, Samsung, and Vodafone. By forcing sites to comply with mobile web standards, .mobi tries to ensure visitors a consistent and optimized experience on their mobile device. However, this domain has been criticized by several big names, including Tim Berners-Lee of the W3C, who claims that it breaks the device independence of the web



Mobile Web 2.0


An example Web 2.0 technology used on the mobile web is the blog, resulting in the term moblog. Critics point to the difficulties of transferring Web 2.0 concepts such as open standards to the mobile web. On the other hand, advocates present it as a means of pushing information up onto the web in addition to bringing information down to the user. This push to allowing offline content to popular websites empowers the user. Furthermore, many major companies see the rapidly growing demand for advanced web access via mobile phones and provide a mobile version of their site. This allows users, even with newer devices, to quickly access websites and services in a view that is customized for mobile. Some examples include American Airlines and Victoria's Secret among many others. The first book on the topic was Mobile Web 2.0 by Jaokar & Fish, futuretext 2006.



Seventh Mass Media


Since the first ringing tone was sold on the mobile phone in Finland in 1998, the mobile has emerged as the Seventh of the Mass Media. Today a wide range of paid media content is consumed on mobile phones ranging from 9.3 billion dollars of music and 5 billion dollars of videogaming [1] to horoscopes, jokes, news, adult entertainment, etc. Also like on all other media, advertising appeared onto mobile when a free news service launched in Finland sponsored by ads in 2000.




Though Internet access "on the go" provides advantages to many, such as the ability to communicate by email with others and obtain information anywhere, the web, accessed from mobile devices, has a large number of limitations, which may vary, depending on the device. These include:


  • Small screen size - This makes it difficult or impossible to see text and graphics dependent on the standard size of a desktop computer screen.
  • Lack of windows - On a desktop computer, the ability to open more than one window at a time allows for multi-tasking and for easy revert to a previous page. On mobile web, only one page can be displayed at a time, and pages can only be viewed in the sequence they were originally accessed.
  • Navigation - Mobile devices do not use a mouselike pointer, but rather simply an up and down function for scrolling, thereby limiting the flexibility in navigation.
  • Types of pages accessible - Many sites that can be accessed on a desktop cannot on a mobile device. Many devices cannot access pages with a secured connection, Flash or other similar software, PDFs, or video sites.
  • Speed - On most mobile devices, the speed of service is very slow, often slower than dial-up Internet access.
  • Broken pages - On many devices, a single page as viewed on a desktop is broken into segments, which are each treated as a separate page. Paired with the slow speed, navigation between these pages is slow.
  • Compressed pages - Many pages, in their conversion to mobile format, are squeezed into an order different from how they would customarily be viewed on a desktop computer.
  • Size of messages - Many devices have limits on the number of characters that can be sent in an email message.


In addition to the limitations of the device itself there are limitations that should be made known to users concerning the interference these devices cause in other electromagnetic technology.


The convergence of the Internet and phone, in particular has caused hospitals to increase their mobile phone exclusion zones. A study by Erik van Lieshout and colleagues (Academic Medical Centre, University of Amsterdam) has found that the General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) used in modern phones can affect machines from up to 3 meters away. The Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS) signals, used in 3G networks, have a smaller exclusion zone of just a few centimeters. Surprisingly the worst offenders in hospitals are the doctors (New Scientist, 15 September 2007, pg.5).




The trouble with mobile Web


There was recently a very interesting article from the founder of "Mowser", a failed mobile web company...about the troubles with the mobile web.   He said "Two years ago I was convinced that 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. In other words, I think anyone currently developing sites using XHTML-MP markup, no Javascript, geared towards cellular connections and two inch screens are simply wasting their time, and I'm tired of wasting my time.  The argument up to now has been simply that there are roughly 3 billion phones out there, and that when these phones get on the Internet, their vast numbers will outweigh PCs and tilt the market towards mobile as the primary web device. The problem is that these billions of users *haven't* gotten on the Internet, and they won't until the experience is better and access to the web is barrier-free - and that means better devices and "full browsers". 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. Users recognize this, and have made it very clear they won't be using the "Mobile Web" as a substitute for better browsers, rather they'll just stay away completely.


What's going to drive that traffic eventually? Better devices and full-browsers. M-Metrics recently spelled it out very clearly - in the US 85% of iPhone owners browsed the web vs. 58% of smartphone users, and only 13% of the overall mobile market. Those numbers *may* be higher in other parts of the world, but it's pretty clear where the trend line is now. (What a difference a year makes.) It would be easy to say that the iPhone "disrupted" the mobile web market, but in fact I think all it did is point out that there never was one to begin with. (And point it out they have, with multiple millions of dollars in marketing showing off how insanely great the iPhone browser is, setting the baseline for what all mobile users should expect.)


Mobility as a concept is still amazing - the potential for developing services that take advantage of such a personal and ubiquitous platform is incredible and I'd love to just start again right now and relaunch Mowser focused on new ideas. But I honestly just don't know how to make it work out money-wise, so they'll just have to wait until I can recharge my financial batteries enough so I can try again some day."    see the original post for more...




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