Let’s look into the future of the Mobile Web, where’s it’s headed, or better yet, where it’s supposed to be headed…
In May 2005, the W3C, the leading consortium for the World Wide Web, announced the launch of the Mobile Web Initiative (MWI). In the official press release, W3C Director Tim Berners-Lee recognized that “mobile access to the Web has been a second class experience for far too long.” He continues, “MWI recognizes the mobile device as a first class participant, and will produce materials to help developers make the mobile Web experience worthwhile.” It may be too early to tell, but with sponsoring organizations such as Nokia, Ericsson, France Telecom, Vodafone, and NTT DoCoMo on board, there’s hope the initiative toward a more worthwhile mobile web will be a unified one.
But unity could inevitably come at the expense of carriers and device manufacturers, who ultimately control the mobile web user experience. If unity, even “standards”, negatively impact the bottom line, we expect W3C’s MWI will be virtually powerless against those who really write the rules — the carriers and manufacturers.
However, if we learned only one thing from the “desktop web” standards movement in recent years, it’s that even the most behemoth organizations listen if the wheel squeaks loudly enough. And where listening ears are found, there lies also the potential for change.
Some of the more encouraging signs of mobile design and development:
- There are three times as many mobile phones as PCs worldwide, and that gap
doesn’t show any signs of decreasing
- Virtually all phones on the market today are web-enabled
- Google maintains a separate index for “true” mobile-friendly sites, Google Mobile
- Mobile startups are currently experiencing large amounts of investment dollars
- Location-based services, such as GPS and RFID technologies, are right around the
corner, providing local context to web content
We know mobile users are already accessing the web on their devices, and we can safely bet they’ll continue to do so. The question then becomes, “How do we design for the mobile web?” A superb question, indeed, that is now being answered by new waves of designers and developers.