I attended the Future of the Mobile Web conference in London on Monday run by Carsonified. It was a really informative day jam packed with speakers from all aspects of the mobile world. It was also a great day for meeting new people such as Simon Mackie from the Carsonified team, blogger Vero Pepperrell aka That Canadian Girl (who gave a great talk on community evangelism) and Mark and David from Taptu, a mobile search engine.
While not a surprise it was good to see so many people from the mobile industry (operators, platform developers and mobile content developers) in agreement that openness, standards and collaboration are necessary in order to safely move the industry forward. The mobile web industry is new and evolving and in danger of becoming fragmented if we don’t responsibly work together.
The recurrent theme of the day though was that if we did all work together then the future really is mobile with people wanting to communicate in multiple ways using mobiles. The first speaker Rudy de Weal summed it up perfectly by saying that “mobile is becoming people’s primary interface for internet and social networking, it is an internet or things” e.g devices.
Opera’s State of the Mobile Web Report for April certainly showed that social networks are ranking highly in the popularity stakes. An IBM mobile web survey released last month also echoed the point that mobile could become people’s primary interface to the web:
“…over 50 percent of consumers would substitute their Internet usage on a PC for a mobile device….Worldwide adoption of the mobile phone as the preferred device for accessing the Internet is just around the corner.”
From Dr. Sungyoul Lee, Global Consulting Leader, Electronics Industry, IBM.
This is no better evidenced than in developing countries where people experience of browsing may only have been through mobile devices. Poor infrastructure and prohibitive costs for hardware are all huge barriers whereas mobile, while still a cost, is far more within reach. As the Swaziland Observer reported recently “internet penetration was still low in Africa and one of the ways to improve it was by using mobile internet services.
Even closer to home Doug Richard, who spoke about understanding development for emerging markets at the conference, echoed that “mobile is essential to modern living” with regards to poverty in modern Britain. I guess as much as it is about cool apps mobile has a heavyweight role to play in social development
I’ve been an observer of what has been happening in developing countries with regards to internet and mobile access for a while believing it to be as important as accessibility for people with disabilities, just slightly different. I thought it was really good to see a London based conference focusing so much on what was happening in the rest of the world. We can often get so involved in what is happening in the UK, States and Europe that we forget that the majority of the world are elsewhere.