Mobile the next big thing?


There’s been a lot of hype about mobile technologies becoming the “next big thing” for some time now, but a lot of it yet to be realised. this morning I was speaking with Nick, a friend who works at CPIT, who was explaining how he and some colleagues there are looking at introducing the use of mobile technologies into an assessment process as part of a course they run. His logic is that while many of the students he works with in the vocational courses he runs don’t have ready access to a computer, they all have mobile phones.

This aligns with an article I read yesterday from Orange which reads:

The mobile web shows every sign of the ???next big thing???. Web-enabled mobile handsets now out number desktop and laptop PCs. Analysts predict that well over a billion people will use them to connect to the web by 2008

This is certainly something that those planning for the future of schools and universities need to be taking into account. Just how might we plan to accommodate students who are wandering around with fully web-enabled devices in their pockets and on their wrists etc. (apart from banning them, of course)

Before we go closing down computer labs we need to realise that this isn’t going to happen immediately. The Orange report goes on to say

However, only about 10 percent of web-enabled handsets host full-featured non-WAP browsers and as yet few people are using them or are even aware they exist, and for good reason. If you ever try to surf the web with a mobile browser you run across a lot of poorly rendering content.

The article has a link to a white paper produced by Orange that outlines a solution to a part of this problem – a simple server script that adapts web pages based on what kind of client is requesting it.

The Orange project is one initiative that is aligned with the series of Mobile Web Best Practices developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). These are recommendations that provide a starting point to educate web content providers on giving their sites a baseline of mobile accessibility. Ultimately the W3C will address more difficult questions such as how to serve content to devices with much different sets of characteristics and features.

While the papers are targeted at a technical/developer audience – I found them a very useful read to gain an appreciation of what is envisaged – the graphical illustrations etc were very helpful in this regard.

Watch this space!

2 thoughts on “Mobile the next big thing?

  1. Funny you should blog about this today just as I was thinking about getting a data plan so I could update my tumblr page but woah back I said after viewing the ridiculous prices from Telecom and Vodafone twenty two dollars a month seems a little steep for a personal user but then that is why it’s in the business section I guess. It makes me even more keen for unbundling so we can have plans like in America, had a quick look at Verizon and AT&T and was impressed by the $19 us for unlimited (within US)

  2. While recently on a trip to the US I picked up a Nokia N800 which is a wireless tablet not much bigger than the forthcoming iPhone. It has a touch screen, the Opera Web browser, an RSS reader, and IM & VoIP capabilities. Viewing sites on this has been quite good so far and downloading feeds in the morning has meant that my commute is more than just the NZ Herald. The hardware and screen real-estate is about to change and I suspect the days of a 3cm x 3cm screen with a badly hobbled together java browser are over. This machine cost me $400 US and i have heard that the price may drop by Xmas to around $300US. The cost is greatly reduced by the fact that it runs a version of Debian Linux underneath called Maemo — so no $200+ fee for the Microsoft handheld OS.

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