Kathryn Greenhill posted last week about the recently released report The Impact of the Mobile Phone on Work/Life Balance Preliminary Report June 2007.
As a mobile phone internet user myself, Nick Cowie’s amusing video about why people should build mobile specific websites rings very true for me. Last week, I locked myself out of the house on a very windy, rainy day. While I waited for someone to come home with a key, I decided I’d sit in the car and do a few things online, on my phone, that I hadn’t had time to do at work. Prime opportunity, given that I was in range of my wireless network, and could therefore avoid paying the verging on exorbitant rates my phone carrier charges for internet access. After ten minutes worth of sheer frustration, I decided staring into space would be a better way to kill time.
Even so called “phone friendly” sites are often painful when viewed on a phone. And normal sites are near unusable.
From what I’ve read, I understand that part of the problem is that web browsers that run on most smart phones don’t support fancy code (that’s a very technical term, that one). So the lovely, pretty, smooth AJAX-y / Java-y web tools I play with every day just aren’t gonna work, or not as well, anyway. But the other part of the problem is that people (read:libraries) just haven’t spent time developing even basic HTML websites that are optimised for viewing on small screen devices.
3G mobile is upon us, and while the Impact of the mobile phone report indicates a lower takeup of mobile broadband than the techno-addict in me would expect, it won’t be long until people catch on to what’s available. We need to be ready to deliver our services to users of small screen devices, because mobile broadband is surely going to take off some time in the very near future. You can bet your bottom dollar that the Googles of the world will get their small-screen compatible websites right (in fact, the Googles of the world are doing ok right now – the Google mobile suite is pretty much all I can bring myself to use with any regularity on my mobile). If we want to compete with these big players in the information economy, we need to get it right, too.
A little aside: Cool stuff is coming out for iPhone users. Facebook for iPhone looks very promising. And my favourite IM tool, meebo, is now available for iPhone too (pics here). But what about us poor iPhone-less Aussies? Is it too early to start lining up for one?! Seriously, though, can’t they just make these things device independent? It seems like a big waste of energy to build a different version for every kind of phone…
And a postscript: I still love my whiz-bang phone. I just really wish all the websites and tools I use regularly would display in a usable way. One day.