The Mobile Web Is Not Dead, It’s Misunderstood

Yesterday after Russell Beattie blogged about the closing down of Mowser, I noticed a few mobile web is dead posts going around. I’ll let you in on a little secret, the Mobile Web isn’t dead. It’s not entirely understood and some folks are finding that...

1993 15
1993 15

Yesterday after Russell Beattie blogged about the closing down of Mowser, I noticed a few mobile web is dead posts going around.

I’ll let you in on a little secret, the Mobile Web isn’t dead. It’s not entirely understood and some folks are finding that out. Why? It’s a different space. Today, the Mobile Web is a light weight extension of the web and so rendering full blown web apps as they appear on the desktop browser is not really feasible on a light weight extension.

Call me crazy but I don’t believe that’s what the mobile web is going to evolve into. That’s where some over-estimation has occurred in my opinion. We’re just not going to see the entire web and the web sites as they exist today go mobile and why should we?

It has the potential to be the ultimate social network if someone would create the killer mobile social app. While it’s only a lightweight extension other huge advantages like presence of you and others, location and mobility all exist. These are different dimensions that don’t exist on the desktop.

Wouldn’t it be better to have mobile social web apps that let you connect to businesses and individuals based on your location while you’re moving or stopping in new places vs. a mobile version of a desktop based web site?

People want applications like that. They also want to talk to the app not just the device. When will we see voice activated mobile web apps? If I’m on a mobile site and looking at a product I’m thinking of purchasing I want to be able to issue voice commands to move through the process, not type or click:

  • buy it
  • sign in
  • sign out
  • call me for payment details

That’s why it’s different. The mobile web apps we’re seeing now are mostly mini versions of existing web applications.

The mobile device is capable of so much more and the startups that figure that out are gonna have themselves some over the counter painkillers.

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  2. Holly from

    The mobile internet clearly isn’t dead — it is flourishing in Asia and just getting started in the US. In my opinion, click to call is the single most underused feature offered by this technology.

    If I want to contact a merchant, instead of dragging out a piece of paper and a pen to copy the number down, if I am offered the chance to click instead I will do that instead. Once people figure that out, it will make much more sense for business-to-business sites to start appearing on the scene.

    WAP and mobile designers would do well to avoid placing iframes, tables, large graphics and other components that make sites hard to load and respect the people at the other end of the phone who are paying for bandwidth and don’t want to wait for their sites to resolve.

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  8. Giff Gfroerer, i2SMS

    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 you consumers will need from their mobile device and make that front and center.

    However, Russel over at Mowser does have very valid points. Let’s not forget that Motorola is dishing its handset division. Sanyo did away with theirs already. The iPhone isn’t killing it in England as some had hoped.

    The plain fact is that, for now, the vast majority of users do not see a need in the mobile web. People want to talk, send messages, and a quick find here and there. But they can do without the quick find if it is going to cost them an extra $200 bucks on a phone that has the capability and the extra $30 a month on a data plan.

    Is mobile on the bleeding edge right now or cutting edge? Only time will tell. But do yourself a quick favor. Walk around your office today and ask everyone, including receptionists, the manager and your colleagues, who has used their phone to browse. Of those who have, if you can find anyone, ask them what their experience was.

    If it wasn’t on an iPhone we probably know the answer to the second part.

    Look, the mobile web is coming and it will be great. But changes in how we search and find take time. And we have to be convinced it is worth the extra money… In the United States, and I am only talking US here, the general public is not convinced yet.

  9. Hiloa

    Mobile advertising is a good gage to watch for the health of mobile social networks. Right now there a lot of mobile social networks trying to prove their business model based on ad sales. Crush or flush has added a new revenue model for mobile social networks that looks very promising. See the article posted at

  10. Michael Katz

    The mobile web is certainily not dead, but saying that it’s misunderstood is also not entirely correct. For whatever reason, people have already mistakenly assumed that the mobile web is just a miniature version of the Internet. This is wrong. The mobile web is a tool for communicating certain types of media, but it is not a tool for spending a huge deal of time surfing and browsing popular web sites (yet!).

    Let’s look at the primary use of a mobile phone:
    1. Receive and make calls
    2. Send and receive text messages
    3. Checking the time

    Above and beyond this requires education and conditioning. Watching videos, playing games, downloading ring tones, uploading pictures and videos. It is with this second group in mind that companies are now basing advertising strategies.

    According to Juniper research, 2008 will see more than $1bn being spent on mobile advertising. This is largely due to free content being offered to mobile phone users. The free content relies on advertising within the content. Free content includes ring tones and games. In addition, the progression of Mobile TV and syndicated content deals with TV producers will see a shift from expensive TV advertising to less expensive Mobile TV advertising.

    The current cost of mobile browsing prohibits a vast majority of web surfers from spending too much time online using a mobile device. However, within 5 – 7 years, unlimited mobile Internet connection will become commonplace.
    Once this happens, combined with mobile hardware that has all the functionality of a laptop / desktop computer, the mobile web will begin to completely change its appearance and will begin to resemble what we have already become used to with Web 2.0.

  11. victor

    I agree Cameron, the normal web approach isn’t going to work. Might for some but generally I don’t think it will.

  12. Cameron

    I personally know that the mobile web is not dead. I have multiple WAP sites running that are doing my business a lot of good. The problem is that people are looking at mobile the same way they are looking at the PC internet and are trying to build it as such. Mobile users need a different experience than they would on a PC and businesses need to use an appropriate mobile site builder in order to make their site work for every handset that browses to their site. Personally I use Wapple as I find the price is perfect for my needs and the tools are amazing… but I digress…
    Just taking a normal web site and configuring it to a mobile device just isn’t going to work. And don’t get me started on the iPhone- what a load of crap that thing is!

  13. Sarah at Bango

    We know the mobile web is not dead. Go to and see in real time people accessing mobile websites through our platform. I agree with Krishnan, don’t just look at this from a Western perspective – our top 5 most active countries for the mobile web includes South Africa, India and Indonesia. For the majority of people in these countries, the only way they can access the internet is through their phone.

  14. Krishnan

    Interestingly, when people talk about mobile web, they only take the US market into consideration and say that mobile web doesn’t have a future, yada, yada, yada. But in countries like Japan, India, and South Africa, mobile web has had phenomenal growth over the years. I’m wondering why people have not taken notice of that?

  15. Kim Dushinski


    I agree with you completely. The mobile web is nowhere near dead. Businesses just need to figure out what it is their customers want from them via mobile and give it to them in a way that works on their phones. Viola – the mobile web.

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