In a recent editorial, Ed Hardy asked software developers and device makers to improve their browsers so that the web experience will be something that’s actually desirable. As it stands now, aside from Apple, and some inroads by Opera Mini, mobile Web browsing is pretty horrible.
So what would happen if the browsers did step it up? Would people come to the Net in a mobile wave? Or would other problems come to the forefront as additional layers of disruption to mobile Web use?
What happens when mobile browsers get all the kinks worked out? What additional things will we have to look forward to?
One thing mobile browsing will have to address more than desktop browsing ever has is the importance of what and how things are displayed. No one wants to have to scroll through three Flash banners before even seeing the page title. Mobile browsers will have to address the "what" to display question after they have gotten past the point of just being able to display it.
On a mobile browser we download pages and read them, but we also do things with the content. Either we read about an event and want to know more, or search for a restaurant and want to call and make a reservation. Mobile browsers will have to address our ability to associate content with other content. If you will, it will have to be able to read meaning into what we are looking at, and provide a means for us to relate it to our world around us.
In web development terms, this is called making the Internet semantic. And for mobile browsers to be more than "seek and see" terminals, they will have to grow in their intelligence to this content. Unfortunately, for browsers to take advantage of this, web sites have to be redesigned with the mindset of not just presenting content, but being formatted on the code level to be machine-understandable. This is something that’s been in development for a long time, and it’s possible that better mobile browsers can exploit this to become more usable.
That’s Not All
One of the challenges the quest for a suitable web browser is the cost factor. Apple and AT&T have shown that given a truly capable browser that people will (reluctantly) pay for the Internet on their devices. But if more devices come with highly functional web browsers, at some point the tide of users will hit a point where prices for unlimited usage will have to come down.
Carriers make a pretty penny on the data end of the cellular business, and it would be in their best interest to see better browsers…
…that is, if their networks can take a large number of people using them as data pipes.
More Questions than Answers
Yes, we all want better browsers. But in the end, a better browser for all devices might engage several more questions and problems that consumers and the market are not ready to answer. Namely, now that I have a better browser, what do I do?