Notes: Demystifying the Mobile Web

The following are my panel notes from SXSW. As I am not the fastest typer I have paraphrased what was said. Should you notice any mistakes please do point them out in the comments for corrections.

CM: Carrier walled gardens and open networks. Fosters innovation and sites wouldn't necessarily come on board if it wasn't for the carrier.

KG: Is the mobile web something that's coming and is it worth investing time and money into researching the mobile web? Concentrating on Europe and the Americas. 2G is the equivalent of dial-up 14k-28k. 2.5G was equivalent to 56k 3G download 1 mb in 300 seconds DSL like speed. 4G is more like T1 speed)\

CM: What's the outlook for the American market?

KG: sms takes up 70% of the mobile market. In china kids aged 12-18 $89 in the us $4900. US is the biggest source of revenue for mobile.

Q: Should it be mobile specific. Or one web

CM: device independence came from the W3C and it encourages developers to think beyond the desktop. Access to a unified web from any device anywhere. This ignores component content and context specific data. Things that you need to do specific to a mobile for example is something that needs to b e taken into account.

Q: Mobile browsers (opera/Blazer) are modifying the data thoughts on this.

DS: You as the content creator have no control over this and you can't predict how the content is going to be modified. Is this a good thing? Well it makes the download quicker and it can be more practical so it�s good for the user but brings another headache to the content developer.

Q: Devices are used for more data gathering. How does the mobile web impact our lifestyles?

KG: Thinking about how the mobile integrates within our lives. In NZ it costs 75c per minute for all calls irrespective of whether it's a mobile or a landline. Thin clients web based apps thick clients are integrated apps on your phone. In between you have a rich client, which is what we think of as web 2.0. This is the place to aim for. Mobilicious. These apps are good for when you have spare time at an airport the experience is pretty good. Dodgeball.

Q:Explain WAP

DS: Wap is partially protocol and partially markup and there's also WAP css. WML Wireless Markup Language. If you use WML it has to be back compatible with WAP 1.0 it uses xhtmlmp is a subset of XHTML. WAP CSS has a different syntax to CSS.

Most devices these days are WAP2.0

CM: If you have all devices allowing WAP 2.0 I can start understanding how to develop for the mobile web.

DS: It's easy to get your foot into the door but there's a lot of other stuff to know.

BF: Many different screens sizes how do you deal with that?

CM: User agents and browsers are so varied the amount of lines and screen space. What is the lowest common denominator for all of these devices. What's the lowest cutoff point. what do my users want to do what kind of devices do they have?

DS: Alternatively serving up unstyled xhtml is probably a good idea.

Q: Is this like the nineties

DS: no it's going to be worse!

BF: there are about 40-50 unique browsers on mobile Openwave are the most common browser manufacturer. Standards has been apart from the beginning. WAP 1.0 and WAP 2.0 actually work really well on most of these browsers.

Q: ...What's happening with flash?

KG: Flashlite and SVGT are in competition. SVGT has limited support. We are looking at both. Operators and carriers are leaning towards SVGT but developers tend to prefer flash.

Q: Should we be using HTML basic or XHTMLMP?

BF: XHTMLMP was developed by open wave so it has lots of support.

Q: What's going to happen with SVGT and flash with the macromedia/Adobe merger.

KG: We have to see what the carriers are going to do. Flashlight cost $1 per phone as the cost is huge this may prevent uptake.

SVGT is built into the flashlight player.

Q: How can you adapt the user interface to mobile

CM: How do you deal with the limitations and make something contextual relevant and make it look good too. Opera mini could become more popular and we could get to the point of developing fro 3 main browsers like on the desktop.

Q: How is wifi (wi-max) going to change the mobile web.

BF: There are problems moving between nodes. MVNO allows you to rebrand mobile services as your own. amp'd mobile is offering new services at a highly reduced price.

Q: Is there room for a Mozilla to come up and give users choice rather than forcing users into proprietary browsers.

CM: yes it's possible if carriers allow it.

DS: Even if you do see more Opera mini you still need to deal with all of the others in the same way that we have to deal with IE event though Firefox has a 15-20% share.