A couple of months ago, Russell Beattie wrote a post about the end of his startup entitled The end of Mowser which is excerpted below
The argument up to now has been simply that there are roughly 3 billion phones out there, and that when these phones get on the Internet, their vast numbers will outweigh PCs and tilt the market towards mobile as the primary web device. The problem is that these billions of users *haven't* gotten on the Internet, and they won't until the experience is better and access to the web is barrier-free - and that means better devices and "full browsers". Let's face it, you really aren't going to spend any real time or effort browsing the web on your mobile phone unless you're using Opera Mini, or have a smart phone with a decent browser - as any other option is a waste of time, effort and money. Users recognize this, and have made it very clear they won't be using the "Mobile Web" as a substitute for better browsers, rather they'll just stay away completely.
In fact, if you look at the number of page views of even the most popular mobile-only websites out there, they don't compare to the traffic of popular blogs, let alone major portals or social networks.
Let me say that again clearly, the mobile traffic just isn't there. It's not there now, and it won't be.
What's going to drive that traffic eventually? Better devices and full-browsers. M-Metrics recently spelled it out very clearly - in the US 85% of iPhone owners browsed the web vs. 58% of smartphone users, and only 13% of the overall mobile market. Those numbers *may* be higher in other parts of the world, but it's pretty clear where the trend line is now. (What a difference a year makes.) It would be easy to say that the iPhone "disrupted" the mobile web market, but in fact I think all it did is point out that there never was one to begin with.
I filed away Russell's post as interesting at the time but hadn't really experienced it first hand until recently. I recently switched to using Skyfire as my primary browser on my mobile phone and it has made a world of difference in how a use my phone. No longer am I restricted to crippled versions of popular sites nor do I have to lose features when I visit the regular versions of the page. I can view the real version of my news feed on Facebook. Vote up links in reddit or Digg. And reading blogs is no longer an exercise in frustration due to CSS issues or problems rendering widgets. Unsurprisingly my usage of the Web on my phone has pretty much doubled.
This definitely brings to the forefront how ridiculous of an idea it was to think that we need a "mobile Web" complete with its own top level domain (.mobi). Which makes more sense, that every Web site in the world should create duplicate versions of their pages for mobile phones and regular browsers or that software + hardware would eventually evolve to the point where I can run a full fledged browser on the device in my pocket? Thanks to the iPhone, it is now clear to everyone that this idea of a second class Web for mobile phones was a stopgap solution at best whose time is now past.
One other thing I find interesting is treating the iPhone as a separate category from "smartphones" in the highlighted quote. This is similar to a statement made by Walt Mossberg when he reviewed Google's Android. That article began as follows
In the exciting new category of modern hand-held computers — devices that fit in your pocket but are used more like a laptop than a traditional phone — there has so far been only one serious option. But that will all change on Oct. 22, when T-Mobile and Google bring out the G1, the first hand-held computer that’s in the same class as Apple’s iPhone.
The key feature that the iPhone and Android have in common that separates them from regular "smartphones" is that they both include a full featured browser based on Webkit. The other features like downloadable 3rd party applications, wi-fi support, rich video support, GPS, and so on have been available on phones running Windows Mobile for years. This shows how important having a full Web experience was for mobile phones and just how irrelevant the notion of a "mobile Web" has truly become.
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