Three recent posts on the Web discuss the coming of the Mobile Web. One thing we can all agree on: It’s a big deal. What we don’t agree on is this: When will it get here, and will it be what we as consumers need?
The Register recently conducted a poll of its readers with more than half believing that “always-on mobile Internet access” will become “fundamental” to how they work. Recognizing that its poll is skewed — techies read the “publication”, not my insurance-salesman neighbor — The Register nonetheless rightly notes that once availability, accessibility, traffic structures, hardware, and other issues are sorted out the Mobile Web will finally arrive.
“When the technology passes the always-on threshold,” The Register writes, “you can expect people to use it with impunity.”
Which brings me to my second bit of news.
Yahoo! says the mobile Internet will overtake fixed Internet use in 10 years, according to a report in Total Telecom. That seems a bit industrious, considering that the Mobile Web isn’t even here yet, but it makes sense when considering developing countries.
“Within 10 years more people will be accessing the Internet from their mobile . . . than in the home from a PC,” said Geraldine Wilson, vice president of connected life at Yahoo! Europe. “In emerging markets most people’s first contact with the Internet will be with a mobile phone.”
Speaking at a presentation in London last week, Wilson stated the obvious: the cost of mobile data services must come down, handsets need better interfaces, and network speeds must improve to drive uptake.
“We have to be careful because there have been many false dawns of the Internet on mobile,” she said, “but I think we will look back at 2007 as when things started to happen.”
Wilson might be right. Michael Fitzgerald just published an insightful “State Of” piece on the Mobile Web in The New York Times, noting that in 2007 we’ve seen the introduction of the iPhone, more than 30 companies signing up for Google’s Open Handset Alliance, and Nokia snapping up Web technology companies at an alarming rate, including an $8.1 billion bid for Navteq, a digital mapping service.
As the NYT notes, the Mobile Web is “so close yet so far.”
Third-generation networks (3G) were supposed to be the answer to high-speed cellular networks, but at a recent conference Carolina Gabriel, an analyst with Rethink Research, called 3G “a failure”. Another survey, conducted by Boston research firm Yankee Group, shows that only 13 percent of cellphone users in the U.S. use their phones to access the Web more than once a month, while 70 percent of computers users view Web sites daily.
“For now, widespread use of the mobile Web remains both far off and inevitable,” Fitzgerald writes.
Photo credit: Of Zumobi software and Yahoo! Go, New York Times.