The Ken Werner at InsightMedia published this very insightful article about the "display" issues handicapping internet content accesses via the emerging smartphone.
I’m scheduled to give a presentation later today at the Mobile Web Americas conference here in Orlando on displays for Mobile Web applications, and I spent yesterday listening to reports of mobile standards developments, mobile web browsers, mobile search engines, mobile business models and mobile advertising strategies. Symantec has a mobile web security suite for the Windows Mobile platform and will soon come out with a version for Symbian.
There’s general agreement that LBSs (location-based services) will be a big business opportunity, and one that’s getting a lot of attention is location-based search. That is, the phone knows where it’s located via GPS or other means, and tells you where the nearest ATM or cholesterol-laden hamburger can be found. The feeling in the mobile search community is that the regular Web is much better at finding a hotel in Hong Kong or an HDTV from a national retailer than it is at helping you find a near-by place to repair your shoes. The vision is that mobile search can plug this huge gap in the Net. A talk by Alex Muller, CEO of GPShopper, summarized the position well. It’s title? "The Future of Retail; Why Mobile Matters Most for Local Search." Of course, wireless providers have to convince themselves there’s a way to make money out of this, and that may be on the verge of happening.
Another Mobile Web app is geotagging, in which a location tag is automatically used in an application. One possibility is to label each photo taken with the handset’s camera with the GPS-derived location of the photo, and then place flags on a Google map to show where each photo was taken.
A recurring theme at Mobile Web was the gymnastics mobile browsers, such as Opera Mini, Bitstream’s ThunderHawk, Nokia’s S60, and Microsoft’s mobile browser, must perform to deliver versions of an arbitrary website to all devices. This was tied to a still somewhat controversial philosophical position: "There is only one Web." That is, a mobile device should be able to see all of the sites a PC can, and not be limited to sites designed specifically for mobile platforms and (perhaps) designated as mobile sites....
At the heart of this debate, and of the ingenious developments of the mobile browser creators, is the difficulty of presenting full web pages on small displays. The new generation of mobile browsers do this remarkably well, but they are still dancing bears. It’s amazing that they dance at all, even if they don’t dance really well.
The problem is that with today’s mobile handset displays - and this year, for the first time, the display with the largest market penetration is, according to DisplaySearch, a 2.0-inch QVGA display - is that there just aren’t enough pixels and inches to go around for a fully satisfying web-browsing experience.