I happened to come across a Computerworld article today discussing a possible new venture from the World Wide Web Consortium (“W3C”) relating to mobile devices and the Internet –
“The World Wide Web Consortium is considering a new effort called the W3C Mobile Web Initiative that will seek to make Web access from mobile devices such as mobile phones and PDAs as simple, easy and convenient as desktop Web access.
The W3C made the announcement at a two-day Mobile Web Initiative workshop that began Thursday in Barcelona, Spain. It was organized to help efforts to improve Web-surfing capabilities of handheld devices.”
While there have been other efforts in recent months and years aimed at this same goal, this is the first time I can truly endorse such an effort. The reason –
“Ideas include developing best practices, providing support infrastructures for mobile developers, organizing training programs for Web content providers and creating validation and conformance testing services for Web access from mobile devices, the W3C said.”
This is a significant departure from past “initiatives” that were mainly put together by industry groups and corporations with very bias agendas (usually resulting in the push towards getting their proprietary implementations to be implemented as a “standard”). For once, we are seeing an effort that is focusing on the real heart of the issue.
Those who know me and have followed my writings at BostonPocketPC.com over time or heard me speak on this subject know my position on this topic quite well. My argument has been for quite some time that new technologies are not the solution to “mobile-friendly” web experiences. Instead, using today’s technologies *correctly* and actually implementing them is the key to widespread success.
The current crop of mobile devices (not just limited to the Windows Mobile platform) have been able to render HTML. While it may be a subset of HTML, it has still been enough for web developers to create robust web sites optimized for mobile use. I can refer you to any of a number of web sites, including the BostonPocketPC.com Mobile Edition (written almost 2 years ago) and supporting a mobile version of an entire online community as one such example. I personally know of any other number of web sites that have had the functionality in place for an incredibly long period of time.
The major problem (as I see it) exists in two forms –
- Those web sites that do not understand the technical or business value of providing mobile-friendly access;
- Those web sites that do not feel it is worth the effort or is just a “fad”.
For those in the first camp, education surrounding the current state of the business regarding the benefits (and relatively low cost) for implementing mobile-friendly solutions might just open some eyes. For those in the second camp, that same education would possibly help. I do think, however, that just like the COBAL programmer who still considers other development languages as “fads” (I actually have come across them over the years), this group may be a hard sell.
By promoting education and awareness, helping to encourage better infrastructure support and endorsing best practices for development (based on current technologies rather than creating entirely new ones), the W3C Mobile Web Initiative will likely better serve the mobile web user than any other efforts over the past couple of years. I sincerely hope that this initiative becomes reality and is not turned into yet another “my technology is better than yours” catfight by businesses with only their vested interests in mind.