For a while the mobile web has been perceived to be dead, at least in the sense of customised mobile friendly web pages, which have been rendered mostly irrelevant with the arrival of more and more smartphones with capable browser, that display full web-pages more than satifactorily.
This is probably to a large extent correct (although it will be interesting to see if HTML 5 could lead to an upsurge in mobile targeted web apps), however I still think the concept of a “mobile web” is still entirely valid, i.e. in the sense of a version of the web purely targeted at the mobile user.
The new mobile web will take the form of augmented reality, as demonstrated by a new android app from Layar.
The potential for this is staggering, imagine being able to navigate to your destination with arrows and guides superimposed over the pavement/road itself, having the bus you need to get on being highlighted in your line of view, detecting and highlighting pedestrians who may not be visible when driving at night. The computer games you could develop with this would be immense as well, check out Halting State by Charles Stross for examples on how this could work.
It seems to me that the mobile web isn’t dead, it hasn’t truly been born yet.
Google voice looks like an awesome service that could be a huge game changer in the UK telecoms market (especially if it was fully integrated into Android), however there seems to be doubt as to wherever the service will ever be rolled out in the UK market. One issue that might pose a problem is that the UK and US telecom operators follow a different billing model.
In the UK we have a “caller pays” model where the cost of the call is charged to the account of person who initates the call. Wherehas in the US the opposite happens: the subsriber pays for calls they receive on their line. This means it would cost google to forward a call on to a UK number, wherehas in the US system the user would pay the costs.
I’m not sure whether the caller pays system would present an insurmountable obstacle to Google Voice arriving in the UK, however if so Google could always leverage some of its huge cash reserves and purchase a mobile network. I realise this is exceedingly unlikely, but there would be several interesting benefits too Google:
- Direct path to the end-user to deliver web services without having to rely on 3rd party ISP’s
- Diversified revenue stream from line rental, reducing reliance on advertising
- Deliver high bandwidth content such as Youtube from servers embeded directly in the mobile network itself
It would be interesting to see what google could do in a carrier role, especially if they took the existing business model and tore it up.