Sue the Minister for Podcasting has nominated me as Minister for Mobiles and harassed me ;-) to comment of the iPhone vs Mobile Web article from Read/Write Web. Which is based on Forrester’s report The Mobile Web Versus The Web On An iPhone: iPhone Wins In A Blowout. Being unwilling to pay $50US for a 5 page US centric report, I will have to base my comments on the Read/Write Web article and the small snippet that is available free from the Forrester website.
According to Forrester:
“we believe that the iPhone signals the beginning of the end for the mobile Web as we know it today: Stripped-down sites crammed onto the small screens of devices meant for phoning, not browsing, will become a thing of the past.”
Which is a fairly bold statement, until you start look at the material used by Forrester to backup their conclusions. For example:
“Basic mobile phone – Usability – small screen, small buttons, limited selection of sites, linear navigation”
This may be true of a basic $100 mobile phone using the default browser if it had one. But the iPhone is not a $100 phone, but compared to a similar priced modern phone, say my Dopod 838pro, which has:
Dopod – Usability – medium sized screen 320x240px, physical qwerty keyboard, scrollwheel, buttons, touchscreen, large selection of sites, direct manipulation.
The screen is smaller than the iPhone (half the number of pixels, but only 20% less screen size), but the Dopod probably wins on input and the other two are identical.
If you wanted to add a couple of other comparisons, how about network connectivity (ok it is unfair I use Australia as an example and we have 2nd world mobile telecommunications infrastructure compared to the US’s third world quaility).
iPhone – Connectivity: Only one service provider, 10% of the speed and probably 3x the cost of a cheaper 3G alternative.
Dopod 838Pro (or an Nokia N series) – Features: expandable memory, numerous third party web applications including Skype, removable battery.
Seriously, the iPhone is not quantum leap forward in mobile phones. It is a forward step, with a larger screen size and improved interface design.
Will it end the mobile web as we know it, not in my opinion, probably the exact opposite, it will increase the demand and use of the mobile web. There is now close to a million iPhone owners in the most influential market in the world, with in theory unlimited access but slow connection speed. How will the people use their iPhone on the web and what services will they demand.
I don’t believe people will want to use the zoom feature of browsers, be it Safari, Opera Mobile or Microsoft Deepfish to view or navigate full size web sites on a 3.5” screen. Instead I believe they will choose mobile specific sites that load quickly, are action based and are usable for small screen and limited controls.
Why because unlike the people behind the Forrester report, I have been using the real mobile web regularly for the over six months, reading how people around the world (not just the US) use the mobile web as well as watching people use the mobile web and asking questions.
Watching people has given me confidence in the future of the mobile web. On the bus ride home tonight I was the only one using a laptop but a least 20 of my fellow 40 passengers was using their mobile phones for most of the 30 minute trip. I don’t know how many were surfing the web, reading email, playing games, sending or receiving texts or just listening to music. But they were using their mobile phones to entertain, communicate and inform themselves and as the mobile web becomes more available through cheaper plans and inexpensive handsets it has got a strong future.