Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Thoughts on Mobile Internet

On the flight back from Boston, I was reading Smart Mobs, the next social revolution by Howard Rheingold (on and found this very interesting quote:
The telegraph, like the Internet... transformed social and business practices, but it could be used only by skilled operators. Its benefits became available to the public at large only when the telegraph evolved into the telephone - initially known as the "speaking telegraph". The Internet is still in a telegraphic stage of development , in the sense that the complexity and expense of PCs prevent many people from using it. The mobile phone thus promises to do for the Internet what the telephone did for the telegraph . to make it a truly mainstream technology.
Because it used the same wires, the telephone was originally seen as merely a speaking telegraph, but it turned out to be something entirely new. The same mistake is already being repeated with the Internet. Many people expect the mobile Internet to be the same as the wired version, only mobile, but they are wrong... Instead, although it is based on the same technology as the fixed-line Internet, will be something different and will be used in new and unexpected ways.

Tom Standage The Internet Untethered

In our little bubble, western-developed bubble, we tend to think that PC Internet is universal. And in our countries it kind of is. But thinking that Internet is a mainstream media is approximately neglecting 2/3rd of the world. We know as a fact that people in African countries and India are getting access to the Internet on their phones before owning a computer. Think one second about their conception of what the Internet is and how they can or should interact with it...
Most of Internet actors are mistaken by trying to move the desktop on mobile phones. Look at the first mobile version of facebook (can you actually do something on it except checking it out?). Look at Opera with its way of interpreter of pages to make them look like on the desktop. Look at Microsoft (why would you need a start menu on Windows Mobile?). What we are aiming for with the Mobile 2.0 project is to explore the limits or the future uses of the mobile. We know that we can't predict it but, by developing new applications and new approaches, bit by bit, we can maybe influence it and see it coming. Some initiatives are encouraging, we at the Future Applications Lab are really excited about the coming Palm Pre with WebOS as a huge crossover between the Internet and the mobile.