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We're about to see a big shift towards the mobile web.
|Small Israeli company ELSE Ltd demonstrated an innovative new approach to user interface design on smartphones using one finger navigation at the recent Mobile World Congress.|
Here's an interesting statistic. According to Vodafone, one in four of the mobiles it sold in the run-up to Christmas '09 was a smartphone... worldwide. That's a trend that's set to continue as people discover the benefits of being able to carry a piece of the web around in their pocket. It's taken a while for the momentum to pick up, but the growing popularity of these devices is a combination of lower handset costs, better mobile internet packages, rapidly improving handsets and, perhaps most critical of all, a change in the relationship we have with our network. At one time the mobile companies tried to mediate the experience, creating walled gardens into which we were more or less restricted. It didn't work. We didn't want to be penned in and so these portals were not heavily used. Apple's iPhone smashed those barriers and has heralded a massive growth in interest in the mobile web. The recent Mobile World Congress in Barcelona shows where that trend is going with Google's Android allowing a flood of very capable handsets to join the fray. And this ultimately means we are about to see a big shift in emphasis as major media interests look to adapt their existing sites and web services to follow the customer. We've grown accustomed to a web that's been dominated by ever increasing screen sizes and higher resolutions on the desktop. Now, with phones more powerful than PCs we owned five years ago, that experience has to be revisited. To get it right will be a challenge but with estimates that there are already four times as many mobiles than PCs in the world, any company that drags its heels could quickly be undermined. Why else do we see the biggest players like Google, Microsoft, Nokia and many others working so desperately to stay in front of our eyes? They know they need to be in the mobile OS business as that's the opportunity to mediate -- not through creating walls but by aiding ease of mobile access to this rich new world of content. Of course, despite any denials from the likes of Google's Eric Schmidt, this does mean that the mobile networks are in danger of becoming glorified mobile "dumb pipes" with virtually no means of making anything other than flat monthly fees. It's seems that content, once again, is king.