For some time now I've been following the mobile web with fascination. How quickly this market has grown and is still growing! I can remember getting my first (Prepaid!) mobile phone about 9 years ago. Even then a mobile phone was something not everyone had. Some people were even very irritated by "all the people calling in public (on the street) and sitting in the train". I don't hear that complaint very often anymore...
Then slowly but steadily the mobile web popped up. Actually it was already there but just way too expensive for mainstream use.
I don't think the mobile web is mainstream now, but it definitely is getting there. Recently I bought an iPhone 3GS (I know I'm slow...) and now have my own real experiences with it. And I must say I was impressed without having a smartphone. But I'm even more surprised and fascinated by it now.
Like with many technologies, after you start using it, you really feel it. You suddenly actually experience the power it has and what it's pushing. My experience in short is: the Web is clearly moving to Mobile, or maybe I should say it is Mobile. This may seem to be common-sense to you. Good for you! To me it wasn't. And after showing lots of friends and colleagues how the iPhone works, which Internet apps you get and can use, they are continuously fascinated by its possibilities.
What I find is that the Mobile web is great for lots of things. It pulls to the Internet to your fingertips. I find myself using my laptop less, for instance. My smartphone is great for keeping up with email. Reading email, deleting emails right away if your not going to read them, writing back short emails, archiving and forwarding them. Writing back long emails is not very easy though. I usually save that for when I'm working at my pc. This is something I'm struggling with. As you know I apply GTD to my life. This also implies touching an email once. When I decide not to answer an email using my iPhone, I'll have to keep that email in my inbox and come back to it again. I don't like this. What I am doing know is typing in some snibbits of the email I want to send back and saving that in draft mode. (If you also apply GTD, how do you handle this issue or isn't it an issue for you?)
It's also great for browsing through my feeds and reading the shorter ones. The longer posts will be saved to be printed or read at my computer.
I've been tweeting for some time. One thing I didn't like about my tweet reading behavior is that I would have to be at my computer to read them. This is OK, but I now find that reading tweets is done much better and easier from the iPhone. I look at them between meetings, at times and places I find handy. It's much easier to keep up with them in this way and also to engage in conversations.
The neat thing about the mobile web is it's developing quickly. The number of useful new apps is astounding. I just feel it grow every time I pick up my phone and go to the App store. A direction I think will be big is the potential for product innovation and development. Just think of the direct feedback you can get from users in the field (we're seeing this already via Twitter), using the camera to project all kinds of information on products with augmented reality for customer of service reasons, etc.
For this to happen I do think the mobile web needs to speed up. Internet access is OK via wifi and it's reasonable if there's a 3G network. But the 3G network is not fast enough (- although sometimes this also has to do with the apps themselves...).
What are your experiences with the mobile web? Do you have a smartphone? Are your experiences comparable to mine? I'd love to hear from you.