From the executive summary of the W3C Workshop on the Mobile Web in Developing Countries which took place last year in December in Bangalore:
As of today, the most appropriate way to provide such e-services on mobile phones is with SMS-based applications. The reasons for that are numerous :
* Easy to use (everybody knows how to send an SMS)
* Low and predictable cost (no cost for receiving a message, low and known cost for sending a message)
* Availability on all phones
Of course, there is a general agreement on the limitations of such applications :
* Low capabilities (text-only, limited size, basic services like single query – answer, …)
* Interoperability problems between operators
Adopting the Web as the platform for developing future services requires work on these blocking factors which have been identified :
* Problems of availability of Web browser. There is no web browser on low-end phones. Some of older phones have WAP browsers, and when available, it is used, but there is a lack of WAP content. It is not clear, particularly from handset manufacturers, that this situation will change in a near future. Indeed, organization like GSMA are not integrating in the specification of their Emerging Market Handset the need of having a web browser.
* Problems of configuration : the difficulty to configure a phone to enable web browsing, compared to the immediate accessibility of SMS is seen as a blocking point.
* User Interface: usage of mobile Web browser are still problematic : entering URI, …
* Cost : given the price and the unpredictability of the cost of data services, people are scared to use Web browser without knowing how much they will be charged. Participants acknowledged that the availability of affordable flat-rates plans for data-services would be a key factor for adoption.