TECH TALK: Mobile Internet: Views (Part 3)

Jason Fry wrote recently in the Wall Street Journal: Too many of the Internet’s more-advanced functions still aren’t truly mobile. Sure, the Net is exploding with wonders and is increasingly good at offering local information — but for our purposes those wonders remain largely caged in PCs and laptops. Sit at your computer and you can study up on bars in the West Village, Revolutionary War landmarks in lower Manhattan or Chelsea antique stores. But take that knowledge out into the real world and you’ll probably be stuck with scrawled notes or a sheaf of printouts — which instantly become useless if there’s a change in plans or you come across something unexpected in your travels. After researching and planning online, being cut off from the Net is painful: It’s as if your home and office PCs are air pockets you wind up swimming between, hoping you can hold your breath long enough.

This is what the International Herald Tribune wrote in December 2005:

The mobile Internet – or, the World Wide Web that you can get on your cellphone or handheld device – has had an incredibly lengthy and labored gestation. Around the turn of the century, it was widely heralded by the telecommunications industry, only to be widely derided by consumers for being slow, cumbersome and generally useless.

Today, it is still sometimes slow and occasionally cumbersome, but the portable Internet is no longer useless. On a recent-model mobile phone, you can navigate to almost any Web site at an almost-reasonable speed and a not-too-outrageous cost, once you sign up for a data plan with your phone company. You can get and send e-mail from your regular accounts. For consumers, it is convenient and cool; for business users, it can be a critical mobile tool.

But it is still a far cry from using the Internet on a personal computer.

Carlo Longino provides insights on how to build the mobile Internet: First, users should be empowered to access whatever they want. This means no walled gardens, and powerful browsers that can access full HTML sites. Second, operators should focus on adding value to users internet experiences by recognizing that mobile browsing is different than browsing from a computer and add to (not replace) the open access with more customized services and sites for users that want them. It should be an additive strategy that takes full browsing capability as a starting point, then builds on top of it, not a plan that throws the Internet that people know and love out the window, then opens up tiny holes to let only particular content through.

Tomorrow: Views (continued)

TECH TALK Mobile Internet+T

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.