MIR: Whatley’s Apple iPhone dilemma continues unabaited

Whatley is a Symbian guy, through and through. He’s got more applications on his Nokia then I can shake a stick at. But he’s tempted, sorely tempted by Apple’s iPhone. I suspect the o2 unlimited data plans are also annoying the hell out of him as he’s stuck with Vodafone’s paltry offering. But will an all new (well, not really) 16GB iPhone finally push him into the o2 shop?

– – –

I am not ‘a Mac person’.

I’m getting there, (before you all start booing and hissing), and I’ve been known to get a bit ‘Mac curious’ every now and then.

It’s not through lack of trying though. In fact the other day I borrowed a MacBook Pro from SpinVox to take home and ‘test drive’ for the weekend. Only problem was it was one of those weekends when all of a sudden you have NO TIME to do a single bloody thing and I ended up handing it back Monday morning having only figured out how to get the bloody thing online, (and that took long enough).
Anyway – as I said – I’m getting there. One day I’ll make the jump.

The same thing however cannot be said for the iPhone.

I was at a lunch recently where upon I found myself sitting next to the editor of Mac Format magazine. He and I were discussing mobile et al and of course we ended up comparing devices. ‘Eww…’ he said, looking my N95 ‘Already I’m thinking ‘PC! PC!’ I don’t know how you do it mate…’ – and I in turn went on to mock his iPhone loveliness.

‘But can yours do THIS?’ he said, free scrolling up and down web pages like he hadn’t a care in the world.

‘Well… No. But…

‘Come on. What’s so bad about it?!’

‘Well… Er… the price for a start.’

‘Forget the price. We know it’s over-priced. What else?’


And I stumbled. I lost my thought process. I looked at the N95 in my hands and the iPhone in his and I just stared blankly, grasping around for something… anything… that would aid me in my explanation…

Suddenly it came to me:

‘Well no 3G for a start, or HSDPA. Plus the camera leaves a lot to be desired, (the one you do have doesn’t have a flash) and then there’s MMS…’

And I was away, fighting my corner like a true N95 loving mobile geek.
Once again all was well in the world.

However, I must say that as much as I profess to be an iPhone critic I cannot deny its beauty, its simplicity, and its innovation. Its sheer impact on the on industry we all know and love so well is truly something to behold.

Eventually, Mr Mac Format and I came to a friendly truce. He pointed out that I was probably never the target market for the iPhone in the first place and I acknowledged that the iPhone ‘Mark 2’ would no doubt fix all the problems that I currently had with the device.

I applauded Apple for creating a device that my Mum could pick up and use and I also added that the masterstroke that was making the menu screen the same as the home screen was just pure Genius. Talk about removing barriers to entry. Brilliant.

So why the iPhone love?
Why now, after all this time?
Have I fallen over and bashed my head somewhere around SpinVox HQ?
Well …No.

The fact is I still mock and point and laugh at anyone who’s mug enough to fork out the minimum £900ish that is required for an iPhone in this country, (on o2 in the UK it is £269 for the 8GB variant + £35pcm (min) for the 18mth contract = £899), and I still insist on putting everyone off of purchasing one wherever I go and whoever I talk to.

The question I always ask is: ‘Why do you need an iPhone?’

The answer is often: ‘I need one.’


A pure emotional decision that is not based around utility whatsoever, just some clever marketing, (and I don’t say that lightly; ‘clever marketing’ in this instance is like saying Britney Spears is ‘a bit mental’), huge brand awareness and a near-subconscious desire to own this beautiful thing that can only really explained if the Pied Piper of Hamelin appeared in the ads himself.

So what else drives this insatiable need? The price puts me off. I’ve made that much clear.

But we’ve also established that I am not the target market for this handset. Are you?
We’ll come back to that one…

Ewan recently wrote that the iPhone would ‘only ever be a bit player‘. Well given that it is merely one handset in a market of thousands well then I’d have to agree. But of course that wasn’t the intention was it? The intention (as was clearly laid out by some of the more balanced comments to that piece and of course by Mr Jobs himself), was to gain a single digit market share.

Here we are less than one week away from the biggest and most highly regarded event in the mobile sector and Apple seem to have done just that. Maybe next week we’ll see what the industry reaction is. What have the other handset manufacturers got up their sleeves?

If anything…

Coming back to the target market question – I’ll leave you with the comments I made a few days back in response to another iPhone piece:

‘It’s interesting –

When it comes to the pricing issue – you do have to stop for a moment and think about why o2 launched the iPhone at that RRP.

In the UK the economy in general has recently seen a downturn in overall sales of products but an upturn in overall value of said market(s). Consumers are fleeing the every day, mass-produced, mass-market products and are saving their cash and investing in the latest luxury ‘designer’ items.

Therefore there’s a school of thought that o2 knew exactly what they were doing when they launched at £269.99 + contract. They were pricing the everyday ‘common man’ consumer *out*.

Instantly making the iPhone tap into that hidden snob inside us all, (well, not us, but them, y’know… The Normobs).

I was at dinner recently and the two gentlemen at the next table were talking; discussing work etc, and halfway through one exchange the gentleman diagonally opposite to me produced and iPhone from his pocket, waved it sufficiently around to make sure that everyone saw and then placed it on the table in front of him.

Conversation stopper right there. Followed by gasps of

‘You’ve got one?! Where from? OMG it’s gorgeous! Does it do email?’

Etc etc.

The iPhone has been subconsciously marketed as a luxury device. By having one you are instantly making a statement: ‘Look at me. Look at what I can afford.’

I actually heard someone say recently: ‘I want an iPhone. I can afford one too. I just don’t think I’m cool enough. I don’t deserve one yet…’

The device is *cool*, outside of this industry we all move in. Yes we think it lacks key features, that’s because it does.
And yes we think it’s over-priced… Well that’s the point.

o2 don’t want every Tom, Dick and Harry to have one.
o2 want every Tom, Dick and Harry to WANT one.

And trust me, they do.


I’ll be in Barcelona next week, attending Mobile World Congress with SpinVox. If you’re going to be at the conference, why not come say hi? We’ll be in Hall 2, stand 2D33. Trust me; you won’t be able to miss it.

See you there!

MIR: How-to: N95 + ShoZu + Geotags + Flickr + GeoRSS + Google Maps = Mash Up Central!

This week Whatley is going all Web 2.0 on your ass. It’s all very well having these magnificent tools at our disposal — but how do you actually get them working? I’ve always liked the concept of geotagging my images — but haven’t quite got round to working out how to do it. It’s actually refreshingly simple. Here’s James with the overview:

– – –

There’s been a lot of buzz online lately about Nokia Beta Labs‘ latest software release – the Nokia Location Tagger.

A quick overview from Nokia:

‘With Nokia Location Tagger, you can automatically tag your location data to your pictures. As you take a picture, your GPS coordinates are saved to the EXIF header of the JPEG file. You can use this data later, for example, to locate your pictures on a map.

That’s a great feature – Fantastic!
(more on the application of this functionality later)

Nokia also go on to say:

‘In the near future, we hope to make location tagging a seamlessly integrated part of your Nokia experience. Until then, Nokia Location Tagger is a small standalone application that gives you a sneak preview. We are not planning to productize this application as such, but we’d love to hear your thoughts already now, so that we have time to take it into account in the mainstream development.


However, I will not be using this application. I have absolutely no need for it whatsoever. Installing the Nokia Location Tagger onto my handset would be a complete and utter waste of time.

Why? Well, since downloading and installing Share Online 3.0 (another Nokia Beta Labs product) the Web Upload part of my N95 has been rendered useless. I’m told this is probably something to with http protocols on Vodafone; an early Jaiku beta release had similar problems. However the difference is I could uninstall Jaiku. This is not the case with Share Online 3.0. Grr…

So how do I upload media from my N95? Answer: ShoZu.

Yes it does all the cool things like photo/video uploads to all my sharing sites etc but Ricky covered most of that yesterday.

The ‘other’ cool thing that ShoZu does is… *drum roll please* …Geo Tagging!

That’s right. Exactly the same thing that Nokia’s Location Tagger! ShoZu however announced this feature at LAST YEAR’S 3GSM! …nearly a full year ago.

But I’m not here to moan about Nokia playing catch up AGAIN…

I mean, that thing that the iPhone does when you turn it like *that*?
SO cool.
Wouldn’t it be great if the N95 could do that?! If only it had something like a built-in accelerometer…

No wait.

As I said – I’m not here to moan about that – I’m here to show you what this kinda stuff can DO!

Right then.

First you need a GPS enabled phone – an N95 for example.
Then you need ShoZu, (with the GPS tagging switched to ‘on’).

Once you’ve got those two sorted get yourself a Flickr account and enable the two following options:

1. Import EXIF Location Data – http://flickr.com/account/geo/exif/?from=privacy
2. Import Geotagged Photos – http://flickr.com/account/geo/import

All done? Good. Now take a few photos and upload as you like. Got that far? Excellent.

Now go to your Flickr page – here’s mine http://flickr.com/photos/whatleydude

Scroll to the bottom and you should see some feeds – you want the geoFeed.


Right click on that and then ‘copy link location’.

Once you’ve done that – get off to www.google.com/maps and right click, paste into the search box and ‘search maps’.

You SHOULD end up with something like this:

N95 + ShoZu + Geotags + Flickr + GeoRSS + Google Maps = Mash Up Central!

Give it a go and see what you come up with. I was chuffed to bits when I finally got mine together and working correctly. Hence the desire to impart knowledge I guess. Two quick notes before I sign off. First a big thanks to the my Jaiku buddies who inspired me to put this post together and second to point out another great use of ShoZu.


MIR: An Open Letter to Vodafone UK

James Whatley writes, this week, with an impassioned open letter to Vodafone. Write to your MP. Call your local radio station. Send letters to Arun!

– – –

(Not another mobile web rant, promise.)

Dear Vodafone,

Let’s get one thing out in the open before we start:

I love you.

There. I said it.

It’s out in the open for the entire world to see.

You and I have been together now for over ten years and although there have been a few ups and downs along the way, somehow we have always managed to pull through.

Red, what can I say? The years have been great.

I still regret the affair I had with Orange back in the 90s and I know that my foolish dalliance with 3 is best forgotten. I was weak. Led astray by promises of ‘revolutionary’ handsets and blinded by their multitude of minutes. Ultimately I was betrayed by my own greed. They just weren’t you Red.

After all these shortfalls, you were there for me, waiting to take me back with open arms whenever things went wrong.

I am a card carrying member…

Fwd: Whatley on Wednesday - An open letter to Vodafone

… of your love parade and I am proud to say that I recommend you and your network to anyone looking to change providers, (and often to those that aren’t). Everything from the fantastic customer service to the virtually non-existent drop-call rate, Vodafone you put a smile on my face by never letting me down.

But as the years have gone by (and my monthly spend has slowly gone up) I have felt, lately, a strange detachment forming betwixt you and I.

Thing is, there is some shall we say, room for improvement.

When you rolled out 3.5G? Brilliant! Amazing in fact! But at £2.35per meg you and I both knew that something had to give… and it did! You went and released your own little data bundle… And at the same price as T-Mobile’s too! What a fantastic move… But no, you had to spoil my fun by going and capping it at 120mb. C’mon… You know can do better than that!

Signal strength is second to none. I cannot count the amount of times I’ve been out and about with friends and being the only Vodafone subscriber of the group has meant I was the only one in the with a signal.

However when it comes to your Tariffs, you may have great coverage but it seems that this comes at a price too. You’re, dare I say it, high maintenance.

Admittedly you’ve tried to wean me off my old school 3000mins per month tariff for ages now but you have nothing that comes anywhere near it currently. 1800mins for £75?! Shocking. You’re good but you’re not that good Red.
I’m not budging. Yeah ‘Stop the Clock‘ – is pretty cool but can I have Vodafone Passport?

“Not on such an old tariff Mr Whatley.”


Voda, you know I feel about you. Take me on my word: You need to catch up! You could be left behind! 3, who were once the laughing stock of the UK operator market, now have one of the sexiest offerings around with their X-Series.

See, o2 got the iPhone, (you did well to avoid that), and you went and got the N95 8GB for an exclusive amount of time. Excellent choice. But why did you have to cripple it with your own firmware?
It’s like three steps forward and two steps back sometimes, really.

Hopefully, when the iPhone v2 comes along you’ll be right there waiting to grab it and pass it onto to your loyal followers. Hell, if YOU get the next version of the iPhone, I might even get one.
Now there’s a statement.

Can you imagine? With you Voda and your super HSDPA (3.5G) and solid CS, network etc…

It would be killer.

But hey – that’s the future – let’s talk about now.

Let’s move onto the one thing that gets me the most… and I’m sorry to bring this up… (I mention it every time we speak) the ONE bugbear I have with you? The teeny tiny thing that I just cannot stand?!


Tell me, Red, why do you not offer ANY MMS bundles?

None. Nada. Zip. Absolutely, positively ZERO. NOT. A. THING.

Videos, sound clips, pictures… all charged 35p-50p a go. It drives me nuts about you. WHY OH WHY OH WHY?!

You offer one of the latest and best phones (the aforementioned 5MP beauty from Nokia) and you don’t offer ANY MMS bundles to support it?!!!!!?!!!

You say that the requirement isn’t there, that the advent of picture messaging has not been the success that the networks thought it would be…
Well, if you charge for every single MMS sent and don’t allow anyone to add anything to their monthly tariffs then what on earth do you expect?!

You gladly give me video call minutes (which I actually use from time to time) every month as part of my tariff, but not video messaging?! Insane.

It’s been like this since September 1st 2006 Vodafone and I’ve let it go month on month on month… This has got to stop!

Voda, I love you, and I think that you love me.
Try this, do it for the sake of us…

Make MMS free for a month.

Yes. That’s right. FREE. Like you did with Mobile TV, (albeit that was for three months), try it. SEE the uptake.

Look after your customers.
Love them.
Save them money.

And above all, save ME money. Help me love you more.

Yours hopefully,

James Whatley

MIR: Whatley’s mobile power user insights

Just a quick two parter this week – Ewan gave me my first actual assignment last week and I’m still putting the finishing touches to it, (i.e.: Still need to write it up proper-like).

So – as a bit of cheat – I thought I’d do a follow up post on last week’s Power User Insights.

To be more precise: Address some questions that were asked in the comments (as well as elsewhere online and off) and clarify a few points too…

But first, a quick user story:

At the weekend I killed the browser on my N95. I don’t know how or what I did exactly that made it die in such a spectacular fashion but die it did.

To the point where no matter how many times (or many ways for that matter) I tried to access the Mobile from my N95, it was having NONE of it. I clicked on the app, the screen flashed as if it was about to do something and after a second or two – it went back to the menu screen.




First thing I did was turn it off and turn it back on again… Nope, didn’t work.

Then I tried using one of my phone’s shortcuts to get to the web – Nope, that didn’t work either.

I had these horrid thoughts of having to hard reset* my phone and having to re-build it back up from scratch. Not good.

However – all was not lost – some research online uncovered some prior cases of aforementioned phone browser fever. The problem was in fact my cache. Obviously, not being able to clear it from within the browser was going to be a problem so I had to turn to my trusty Y-Browser.


Once I’d browsed to my C drive and cleared the cache, (over 500 items in there! Eeep!), the browser started working again just fine. Woohoo!

So as an FYI – if this happens to you – you know what to do.

On retrospect, if you were to put a Normob (Ewan – are you gonna trademark that?) into this situation what would they’ve done?

Left it? Sent it back to Nokia? Taken it back to the store?

90% of my friends would’ve done neither and probably just given their phone to me and asked me to fix it.

No, scrap that.

100% of my friends, relatives, acquaintances, colleagues etc… ALL give their phones to me to fix. Not a problem. I like doing it. But if they don’t know someone like me (or you) then what do they do?

Hand it in to a store only for it to be returned 3wks later with a note saying ‘water damage’ attached to it?

At this point I’m reminded of Ewan’s recent iPhone/Parent problems

Ok. Well. Enough ranting and explaining – moving onto part 2:

Got some great feedback from the power user piece from last week so thanks again to all of those that took the time to response – fantastic insights – some of which I think are worth sharing (and linking to).

Terence – your first comment made me go back and edit part of the original content so it now reads:

“…as well as also managing to find time to update my facebook,
…reply to some Tweets…
…and catch up on Jaiku via their m.websites”

Being the mdot evangelist that I am I just assumed that you’d all know that’s how I’d be viewing my content! 😉

Google Reader was mentioned a couple of times – I was unaware that they had a mobile variant for this, and having only just discovered recently the wonders of all things RSS – I shall have to have a play at once!

Antoine of MMM had a great idea about a dock for your device. Apple have that one covered already but yes – a ‘centre of gravity’ for my Nokia device wherever I went would be great.

Mirko – I find when walking around London that 8 of 10 people tend to be either tourists or travelers themselves. Plus I am uber-reliant on my handset and use it whenever and wherever possible. I see your point but I think it’s just down to personal preference.

Active Notes. Well reminded. I used to have this but I think I lost it when I last upgraded my firmware. Anyone who uses the ‘notes’ app on their handset should really lookout for Active Notes. It’s quite handy.

Ben Smith suggests Road Sync for all your email needs. I personally use the one Mail 4 Exchange client that comes built in on my N95 (and on my E61i for that matter) but I shall definitely take a look at this one. Glad to see you find SpinVox as useful as I do too – and a big public thank you for the amount of feedback you sent in earlier this week. It has been circulated and the right people are devouring it as we speak!

Onto Dave’s question about Agile: Dave, I bought Agile Messenger originally about 2yrs ago now, (it maybe longer), for my then N70 and I loved it. At that time it was only around £7 (about 9 euros) and I had no problem paying for the full lifetime licence. I too have fring installed but to be honest, I only ever really use it when I need to chat to any of my Skype contacts, (you know who you are).

I’m not sure if Agile is worth as much as they’re charging for it these days but it is definitely worth taking looks as I’m certain they now offer a free trial period upon initial download.

Martin – I read your post – great read. Dopplr is something I will add to my bookmarks at the earliest opportunity.

Finally – Martin’s post reminded me of this great TED Talk I saw recently by Nokia Researcher, Jan Chipchase. Enjoy.

MIR: How do you use your mobile handset?

A day in the life of heavy mobile usage…

Fwd: Whatley on Wednesday 090108 - How do you eat yours?

I am, by my own admission, a power user. This may come as no surprise to the regular readers. In fact, I’d hazard a guess that around half of Ewan’s reader-base would probably consider themselves within this category?

But, what defines a power user?

Well I kept on a diary this morning. Not for too long, a few hours, jotting down any mobile activity on the fly… Have a read:

7:05 – My N95 tries to wake me up to the sound of the Plain White Tees.

I hit snooze.

7:15 – My N95 tries to wake me up again.

I hit snooze.

7:17 – The calendar reminder I set myself the night before, pre-empting this state of affairs, wakes me up properly with the message ‘Wake up you sleeping fool – you have a meeting in town!’

I get up.

7:30 – Whilst getting washed and ready I check Vodafone’s ‘My Travel’ section of Vodafone Live! to see when’s the next train to Richmond. Twenty minutes from now. Cool.

7:40 – I leave the house. Earphones are in and my phone’s MP3 player is happily randomising the 5GB worth of music I have on the microSD card within, for my listening pleasure.

Along the brisk 5min walk to the station I quickly check my train times again (yes, I know I’ve already checked them but I’m insanely regimented about being on time) and then open my Jaiku client to see if my friend Jana is going to be on the same train as me.
She’s not, she’s working from home as she’s not feeling too well and her phone’s profile is on silent so there’s no point calling her either.

All of this from one quick glance at Jaiku. Nice.

7:52 – I board the train to Richmond. At this point my, quite frankly, invaluable Tube Map java app comes into play as I need to work out the quickest route to Piccadilly Circus; Richmond – Hammersmith – Piccadilly. Sorted.

8:05 – The outskirts of the District Line Underground are in fact overground and so I use this time to read up on the morning’s news.

Starting with Mippin, I work my way through: All About Symbian, SMS Text News, Darla Mack, Symbian-Guru.com, WiiWii.tv and anything else that might be of any interest.

I check my emails on the new http://beta.m.yahoo.com, (note – NOT on Yahoo Go. Yahoo Go is BAD), scan my IMs (Gtalk, MSN and Yahoo) using Agile Messenger , as well as also managing to find time to update my facebook, reply to some Tweets and catch up on Jaiku via their mdot websites!

As I head underground at Hammersmith, I start cross checking my work phone’s calendar (the E61i’s native app) against my personal calendar (the Handy Calendar app from Epocware – http://epocware.com/ ) to check for double bookings and the like… Glad I did, have a birthday on an away day that I need to get out of somehow, eek.

Incidentally – as a point of interest – I spot my 2nd iPhone ‘in the wild’. I’m tempted to ask the woman how she could justify it but she hides it away quick before anyone else notices she’s got one…

9:10 – I arrive at Piccadilly Circus and have no idea where I’m going for my meeting. I m.google the agency quick, grab their postcode from their website, tap that into my GPS and voila… it’s just round the corner. Easy peasy.

10:15 – One of the key people has to dash off after receiving a converted voicemail (as a text message, through SpinVox) from his Wife. Her car has just got a puncture and she needs his help. Unfortunate situation aside, that’s a little piece of magic right there. Without SpinVox he wouldn’t have called his Wife back until after the meeting. Already he gets it.

10:20 – I head off, but I need to write up some notes and check emails etc… So a quick SMS off to the Texperts is required methinks:

“I’m in Piccadilly. Where can I get a decent cup of coffee and some free wi-fi?”

10:25 – The answer comes back as: ‘The 5th View Cafe above Waterstones on Picadilly’ and off I trot.

10:30 – Setting up a mini-office over a cafe mocha I glance out the window. The view is amazing. Out pops the N95, I snap a quick photo and then upload it straight to my Flickr, via ShoZu.

Here’s the picture, by the way:

10:35 – I plug my ears back in and settle down to get on with some work.
The End.

So why bother writing this up? Three reasons really.

1) To give an insight into the usage habits of a genuine power user.

2) To find out more about the user habits of the SMS Text News reader base:
‘How do you eat yours?’

3) To ask if anyone out there thinks there is something missing: What application do you use every day that you could not live without?

Think of the Children

Welcome to 2008 folks and good luck to you in the year ahead.

whatley stork

I don’t know about you but, for some reason, 2008 seems to hold an awful lot of potential for me. There’s a definite air of excitement about the immediate future as we, as an industry… nay, as a race! …continue to carve out this new digital/mobile revolution.

I would argue that in this ever-changing landscape it is so easy to forget exactly how far we’ve come in these few short years…

But what I want to talk about now however, is not where we’ve been… but where we are going, and what lies ahead for those that will take up the reigns in the future.

So take a moment, indulge me if you will, and think of the children.

MySpace, Facebook, Flickr, YouTube and of course their mobile counter-parts, are all tools that we take for granted…

‘Upload that, tag me in this… Add me, add me, ADD ME!’

Our entire lives are now, slowly but surely, online… and will remain so should we so wish, forever.

(Apocalyptic terminator-esque wars withstanding)

Our kin will be able to find and see everything… Family trees (post early 21st century) will be easier to seek out…

Finding out who Mummy used to date before she met Daddy will be there, right there, in the depths of your Mum’s mini-feed!

So, what of our children?

Growing up and having such easy access to their parent’s loves, lives, histories, past relationships, photos, activities…

It kinda puts the whole ‘Hey Ma! What did you do in the war?!’ question on its head. More like: ‘Hey Ma, why didn’t you keep a blog?’

Home videos, once the luxury of a rich relative, are now ubiquitous with the advent of the camera phone: I mean; a phone without a camera? An absurd thought… You’ve all got them. I think you’d be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t have a camera on their phone, (by all means, let me know if you are one of these people!).

Of whom of you there that have children already, how many of them have mobile phones? What would you say is the acceptable age of getting ‘my first phone’?

(There’s got to be a Fisher Price toy in there somewhere)

Will our children be on Facebook? Doubtful say some – ‘Surely facebook won’t be cool enough and the kids of tomorrow will be using the next big thing’ is something that has been said to me before. Well – irrespective of your POV on that question…

Some parents are already setting up new blog accounts for their newborns. They’re chronicling everything from the first photo in the womb to little one’s first steps and first words.

How will our children cope with this new way of keeping personal history?

Answer: They just WILL.

Having never known any different…

However, one does wonder, in the years to come when the newborns of the late noughties find their way into school, will a new elite group be the rage in the playground? The Facebook Kids — whose parents embraced this new digital wave completely, and used it to track the entirety of their youngling’s lives to date…

And when the time comes, will these ‘Blog-Babies’ be given the logins to their blog like some twisted digital version of the keys to their first car? Or the first $100 from their lifelong trust fund? Of course, but only when they come of age, so to speak.

Could the parents become precious over this personal history?

‘My child ruined/deleted his blog’ is a Jerry Springer/Jeremy Kyle show waiting to happen…

So why am I talking about this here? Where’s the mobile angle?

These digital worlds are converging. We all know it. We can all see it. I’d say you’re all intelligent people; people with something to say.

So tell me dear reader, I know this is a lot to think over, but I am genuinely interested…

What are your thoughts?

For me the adventure is amazing, but it’s the destination which holds such interest.


The Mobile Web and the ‘mdot’ solution



Ok – on the back of yesterday’s announcement of the new Mobile Pownce (http://m.pownce.com) site, I thought I’d tackle a subject this week that I (along with quite a few others I suspect) have quite strong opinions on:

The Mobile Web aka The Mobile Internet aka WAP aka the Internet, made Mobile.*

*Delete where applicable or just insert your naming convention of choice.
(We’ll come back to this one later).

Having had a rather long (read: head-bangingly frustrating) conversation with someone yesterday about how… all mobile sites will become irrelevant within 12 months as the Operators all follow Vodafone’s lead, and introduce rendering engines [like Novarra], which will offer up the full internet experience to the end user’*… I thought now would be a good time to have a rant which has been boiling away inside of me since my days at Mippin.

*My reaction at this point, in case you’re interested was to walk away, screaming.

This issue is something that I absolutely, 100%, fundamentally disagree with. People (normobs — normal mobile users) do not want the internet on their mobile. They think they do.

But they don’t.

What they want is the information from the internet, optimised and perfectly formatted for their handset. They would never tell you this, because, as I said, they just don’t know.

Compressing banner ads and re-sizing images to give an out-of-context and screwed up version of the website the user is trying to view is SUCH a poor experience it’s not even worth talking about, especially when others have already hit the nail on the head so perfectly — read more about the Vodafone contoversy in-depth here.

It’s an old story back from September but it is still relevant as shown when it came up at the recent Future of Mobile event.

To quote from Mobile Internet site creators, Wapple who, at the event, commented:

“Vodafone (and other operators) are taking a best guess at websites and dumbing them down to the lowest common denominator to fit mobile screens. They do not understand that mobile users want to interact with information in entirely different ways than they would for web.”

YES. YES. YES. The mobile internet user is, by definition, a completely different mental model to that of an internet user. The same applies to TV and Mobile TV, (which I have equally strong opinions on).

Moving on…

I am a huge evangelist of the ‘m. solution’, that is: Educating end users to drop the ‘www’ and simply insert an ‘m’ into your phone’s browser will take you to the mobile version of the site you are looking for.

Facebook has done a shed load of ground work in this area by introducing m.facebook.com to the masses. To my mind, the ‘m.’ is slowly becoming the de facto mobile website standard.

Yes there are the guys from dotmobi (*wave*) who are doing a great job (in partnership with the W3C) in introducing Best Practices for Mobile Websites and anyone developing a mobile site right now would be foolish to not look at how these guys can help – but tell me this:
On a mobile phone, what is easier to type, remember and use?
http://m.yahoo.com or http://www.yahoo.mobi?

Now, putting all that aside and going back to my opening paragraph…

Just what is the correct naming convention for what this thing is that we are accessing through our mobile browsers?

Does it depend on what we’re accessing?

‘WAP’, for me, is a meaningless acronym which brings back memories of green and black screens on phones like the Nokia 7110. But still the word is bandied about within boardrooms as if it’s still cutting edge technology.

‘We need a WAP site!’
– ‘No. We don’t. We need a Mobile Website.’

‘WAP’, for me, is defined by the precursor wap. i.e.: wap.yahoo.com – there’s a WAP site for you. Two colours, basic text with a couple of links and that’s about it. WAP, for me, is the mobile equivalent of ‘Web 1.0’.

Internet made Mobile? See Vodafone’s poor attempts.

Failing that; for a meaningful attempt at taking internet content and making it mobile, try Mippin.

The Mobile Web? That’s where it’s at. Stick an ‘m’ in instead of the WAP or the W3 and see what you get.

If WAP is Web 1.0, then the Mobile Web is, to me, Web 2.0.

What say you?