Much has been said about the death of the mobile web since Mowser’s founder Russell Beattie announced he was closing down his company. The reaction has been everything from agreement (here) to saying the mobile web is misunderstood, complete disagreement (here, here , here and here) and a lot of conversation about how the iPhone has/will change everything (including here).
My take on the mobile web is that it MUST survive. Not because any of us in the mobile industry need it to, but because the ultimate customers (the everyday guys and gals on the street using their phones to access the Internet) do.
While I do absolutely love the iPhone commercials and think the marketing team behind them is brilliant I also think they are confusing a lot of folks. They make it seem like people want to browse the Internet on mobile in the exact same way they do when they have a life-size (not pocket size) computer. I just don’t think that is true.
Think about it for a second, the reason a person goes online with their mobile is to find something or do something specific because they ARE mobile. If they had access to a full sized computer monitor and a keyboard their fingers actually fit on, they would use it. Maybe they do have access to a full sized computer, but think that jumping online on their phone will be quicker. This means they are looking for something specific, not leisurely browsing or researching. Consumers need to find that something and be able to consume it easily.
Make no mistake about it, I’m not saying the mobile web is WAP, far from it. The mobile web at its best is sites like m.redbook.com, m.tvguide.com, mobile.allrecipes.com and tarotreading.mobi. These sites are designed specifically for consumers to use them while they are mobile. The best features of their sites that people want are there, ready to be consumed easily via mobile. Ta Dah – this is the mobile web.
As Giff Gfroerer, i2SMS commented amid all this discussion:
Simply put, one can not put their entire Internet site onto what people see when they pull up their site from a mobile web browser. Figure out what content your consumers will need from their mobile device and make that front and center.
Yes, that’s it. I couldn’t have said it better myself.
It will be even better when consumers don’t need to choose a specific mobile URL but will automatically be directed to the proper content for how they are consuming it. And if they want the full site on their mobile to be able to choose that too. That is the future of the mobile web as I see it.
It is our job as mobile industry professionals, marketers and businesses to help consumers get what they want and need as quickly as possible whether they are using an iPhone, smartphone or flip phone. It really isn’t about what phone anyone is using, it is about the experience they have. If we want that experience to be good then the mobile web must survive.