I just took part in a poll on LinkedIn in which we were all asked how often we used our mobile device as a browser. The answers were generally that the screen was too small, the load was too slow, and it was entirely too difficult. Now a portion of the respondents did say that using the Safari browser on their iphones did make it easier, but that was on the iphone only. Which leaves the other 95% of mobile users out in the cold.
Which leads us to all of the wireless carriers right now who are touting their phones access to the web as being so easy to use and how fun it is to connect to get the latest scores, the latest news etc etc. The problem is website capability suited to mobile devices, Wifi speed compatible to mobile devices and mobile devices compatible to the web in regards to connection speed.
If we look at what has happened within the last 2 years we can see that we are moving there quickly. But right now, the general consensus is that most people do not surf the web using their mobile device simply because the expereince is a pain in the ass.
Let’s also not forget the hidden charge that most wireless carriers tack on above and beyond what you are charged to use your phone as…. a phone.
Here is a typical but more technical explanation of why most people do not use their phones as browsers:
What I like though, is this comment from Greg Harris, CEO of Mobile Visions:
I am not a typical mobile user since I am in the mobile industry, so I will comment on when I use it as a consumer.On my iPhone, I use the browser 90% of the time that I use the actual phone. It has changed mobile web browsing completely, and will produce a major shift in how we view the mobile web going forward. They have set a new standard for manufacturers. I mostly use our iPhone RSS reader to catch up on my blogs and news.
I do not use the phone, the email & sms suck, and I rarely use the iPod.
A better indication would be my Blackberry. While still mostly a phone, and email device, I use the browser about 20% of the time I am using it. Many people don’t use the browsers because they do not know of useful, fast loading mobile web sites that they can access. (We’re working on that.)
There is no question that mobile web browsing is moving beyond the “emergency” stage. Admobs is serving billions of ad impressions. Social networks are appearing every day, and useful mobile web applications are being developed.
As the bandwidth and handset capabilities improve, and the quality and availability of the content grows, there will continue to be a major shift.
So we know where it’s heading we just need the carriers and the sales people and the marketers to be straight up with the consumers and let them know that yes you can surf the web but it’s not going to be the same as on your pc. And that flip phone we just sold you for free, won’t work nearly as well as this $500 Treo or Blackberry. Even then, We are also going to charge you an additional fee to surf the web and not all of your favorite web sites will be available on your 2×2 or 3×3 screen as well. It might also take some time to load so be patient.
Do you think the message is mixed to consumers? Are mobile devices primed for public use of the internet or are we still in the infant stages? Is it fair to tell consumers that they can surf the web to their hearts content, when it really might not be the case? Is it fair to charge for a service that really does not work well on the majority of phones? How should social networks be used on a mobile device?
Alot of questions, but the reality is we are going there whether we like it or not. The laptop will be transformed shortly to the kneetop. And the cellphone will be a complete extension of who and what we are, it will be our connection to everything that we know.