The Mobile Web and the ‘mdot’ solutionJames Whatley
Ok – on the back of yesterday’s announcement of the new Mobile Pownce (http://m.pownce.com) site, I thought I’d tackle a subject this week that I (along with quite a few others I suspect) have quite strong opinions on:
The Mobile Web aka The Mobile Internet aka WAP aka the Internet, made Mobile.*
*Delete where applicable or just insert your naming convention of choice.
(We’ll come back to this one later).
Having had a rather long (read: head-bangingly frustrating) conversation with someone yesterday about how… all mobile sites will become irrelevant within 12 months as the Operators all follow Vodafone’s lead, and introduce rendering engines [like Novarra], which will offer up the full internet experience to the end user’*… I thought now would be a good time to have a rant which has been boiling away inside of me since my days at Mippin.
*My reaction at this point, in case you’re interested was to walk away, screaming.
This issue is something that I absolutely, 100%, fundamentally disagree with. People (normobs — normal mobile users) do not want the internet on their mobile. They think they do.
But they don’t.
What they want is the information from the internet, optimised and perfectly formatted for their handset. They would never tell you this, because, as I said, they just don’t know.
Compressing banner ads and re-sizing images to give an out-of-context and screwed up version of the website the user is trying to view is SUCH a poor experience it’s not even worth talking about, especially when others have already hit the nail on the head so perfectly — read more about the Vodafone contoversy in-depth here.
It’s an old story back from September but it is still relevant as shown when it came up at the recent Future of Mobile event.
To quote from Mobile Internet site creators, Wapple who, at the event, commented:
“Vodafone (and other operators) are taking a best guess at websites and dumbing them down to the lowest common denominator to fit mobile screens. They do not understand that mobile users want to interact with information in entirely different ways than they would for web.”
YES. YES. YES. The mobile internet user is, by definition, a completely different mental model to that of an internet user. The same applies to TV and Mobile TV, (which I have equally strong opinions on).
I am a huge evangelist of the ‘m. solution’, that is: Educating end users to drop the ‘www’ and simply insert an ‘m’ into your phone’s browser will take you to the mobile version of the site you are looking for.
Facebook has done a shed load of ground work in this area by introducing m.facebook.com to the masses. To my mind, the ‘m.’ is slowly becoming the de facto mobile website standard.
Yes there are the guys from dotmobi (*wave*) who are doing a great job (in partnership with the W3C) in introducing Best Practices for Mobile Websites and anyone developing a mobile site right now would be foolish to not look at how these guys can help – but tell me this:
On a mobile phone, what is easier to type, remember and use?
http://m.yahoo.com or http://www.yahoo.mobi?
Now, putting all that aside and going back to my opening paragraph…
Just what is the correct naming convention for what this thing is that we are accessing through our mobile browsers?
Does it depend on what we’re accessing?
‘WAP’, for me, is a meaningless acronym which brings back memories of green and black screens on phones like the Nokia 7110. But still the word is bandied about within boardrooms as if it’s still cutting edge technology.
‘We need a WAP site!’
– ‘No. We don’t. We need a Mobile Website.’
‘WAP’, for me, is defined by the precursor wap. i.e.: wap.yahoo.com – there’s a WAP site for you. Two colours, basic text with a couple of links and that’s about it. WAP, for me, is the mobile equivalent of ‘Web 1.0′.
Internet made Mobile? See Vodafone’s poor attempts.
Failing that; for a meaningful attempt at taking internet content and making it mobile, try Mippin.
The Mobile Web? That’s where it’s at. Stick an ‘m’ in instead of the WAP or the W3 and see what you get.
If WAP is Web 1.0, then the Mobile Web is, to me, Web 2.0.
What say you?