Get ready people! In the next few years, we will be witnessing the birth of the mobile web 2.0. The mobile lifestyle will finally become a reality. New business models will emerge, and companies that keep this in mind will flourish.
What I know is that there hasn’t been much innovation in the field of pervasive computing or the idea that mobile devices can be used to access your computer applications, anytime, anywhere. There are many software applications that target only specific devices, such as Palm, Windows Mobile, Symbian, etc. Interoperability and device/platform independence has been difficult to attain. Software developers who wanted to write mobile applications had to target specific platforms. However, the web browser is the single application that ties all these devices together.
The notion that the “network is the computer” is starting to become more of a reality. We just didn’t see it happening that much till now. The World Wide Web is having a resurgence due in part to “Web 2.0“, “AJAX“, and all these “community-based“, “social-driven” web applications. This is partly because high-speed Internet access has become more ubiquitous and accessible to the masses. Web browsers on non-mobile platforms are commonplace and have recently had some incredible technological capabilities that allow web applications that mimic traditional desktop applications.
In the world of mobile computing, we have had a different experience. Surfing the web on mobile devices was very limited to whether mobile phone vendors would provide the necessary infrastructure and capabilities for these phones. In many ways, this is still the case. Web usage on mobile devices has had a slow rate of adoption due in part to data plans being too expensive, web browser features and support still in its infancy, fragmented web page markup language support (WML, xhtml, etc), and lack of any killer apps. However, in less than a few short years, I believe that will change.
A few years ago, the wireless data infrastructure was still slower than 56kbps. At least today, we can’t complain that the wireless data infrastructure is slowing things down, because many of the next-gen networks are capable of some very impressive speeds. I am also starting to see some very good things happen that may usher in the new mobile web 2.0 era that we are about to embark.
What we really need now is to have the web developer community start making those killer apps. Google has taken the lead by making many of their web applications mobile-friendly. Gmail and Google Maps have recently been ported to the Java ME specification. Also, an innovative new company called Soonr leverages the power of Opera’s capability for mobile AJAX to create an interesting class of applications used for VOIP communications. Of course, other things need to also happen. These so-called smartphones need to be everywhere. Unlimited data plans from mobile carriers need to be much cheaper. There’s nothing worse than getting a huge bill from your provider because you thought the 10 MB data plan was enough.
The other good thing I am seeing is that Apple is readying their rumored iPhone. This smartphone will supposedly have a mobile OS based on their desktop Mac OS X operating system. I can’t help but think that this will help explode the smartphone market, in the same way that the iPod has exploded the personal MP3 player market. Imagine a Safari Mobile browser that can render AJAX-enabled web sites. This could be the catalyst needed to usher in the new era of the Mobile Web 2.0.