Travel and the mobile web

Over the past few years I’ve done a bit of travelling and in the process have made some informal observations regarding the mobile web.In 2005 I visited Egypt. Everywhere you looked there were satellite dishes. If you were in the city or the desert every house had at least one dish poking through the rubble. At one place I could access the internet via a 4800bps dial up modem, but I always had mobile access. Everyone relied mobile phones. Internet access was the domain of the tourist.In August last year I visited Indonesia. Most of the people I met had mobile phones and many had multiple mobile phones strapped to their belts. Many of them weren’t sleek modern mobile phones, they were the chunky communicator style phones. They all spent their time talking and sending SMS messages, rather than using them for email (I assumed the full keyboad made it quicker to type) or web browsing.During my travels if I was lucky I could use email via my phone (a Sony Ericsson T610), but trying to browse the web was a painful process.One my return to Australia I was given a second hand Sony Ericsson V600i so upgraded and signed up to a 3G account. My world changed. I downloaded Opera mini and suddenly I could easily browse the web, check my emails and upload photos to Flickr. The convenience of having Google Maps available at any time has been worth it’s weight in gold.I really haven’t spent enough time browsing many pages (as the data rates are horrendously expensive), but the immediately obvious thing is that web sites work much better on a mobile device if they are built using valid HTML and CSS, use semantic markup. Even saying this, it’s definitely not an easy experience. It really feels like it’s 1994 again and I’ve just fired up the beta release of Netscape 1.0 – not elegant, but you can see the potential and the usefulness of the technology.I’m now wondering how these initial experiences will change with the introduction of the iPhone with simple access to email & web browsing? For many people in the world where the a mobile phone is still the only form of communication, will it open up a new world to them or will life go on as normal making phone calls & sending SMS messages becuase the infrastructure for easy and affordable internet access doesn’t exist?






One response to “Travel and the mobile web”

  1. There is obviously a lot to know about this. I think you made some good points in your article.