Friday, April 25, 2008

Surfing the web on mobile

Sad to see that Russell has had to throw in the towel over at Mowser. Rather emphasises the fragile nature of startups and how they are completely dependent on the belief of their backers, but also, as Russell himself says, it also brings the whole mobile web proposition into question.

Mowser acted as a proxy which reformatted conventional websites for viewing on mobile. It is thus related to, though much less intrusive than, the various transcoders being inflicted upon users by various mobile networks.

These have generally caused problems for mobile content and site providers due to their indiscriminate deployment and lack of any coherent and consistent way for a site to avoid transcoding.

For the last few months Luca Passani of WURFL has been driving a campaign against indiscriminate reformatting and has proposed a standard methodology for mobile optimised/aware sites to avoid transcoding. Recently one of the major transcoder providers, OpenWave, have signed up to this. Hopefully more will follow!

In a few years time everybody will have a device and connection which allows full on web browsing and we will be looking back on all this somewhat bemusedly wondering what all the fuss was about. In the meantime the mobile web sadly must remain a somewhat brittle thing, and thus unlikely to really crack the mass market.

PS. The latest carnival is up at 3-Lib.

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