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Ajit Jaokar's Mobile Web 2.0 Blog: "Let's Create The Mobile Web Phone"

"If you read my books or my blogs, you will know that I am 'pro' web/Open Standards"

If you read my books or my blogs, you will know that I am 'pro' web/Open Standards. Thus, this post should not come as a surprise. It's a bit of a gedankenexperiment.

What I am proposing is a mobile phone optimized to accessing information on the Web (which is predominantly browsing but not necessarily so i.e. could include Widgets and RSS).

Firstly .. Let us start with some observations.

  1. For most people voice is still the primary service they access on a phone. However, increasing numbers of people also want to access information on the web i.e. browse/RSS etc.
  2. I expect that more people in the developing countries will skip the ‘PC’ revolution and go to the phone directly .
  3. 'Smart' phones are becoming too complex.
  4. But ‘Dumb’ phones are too dumb!!
  5. I think when we say ‘basic phones’ (also called ‘Feature phones’ in some literature), we mostly refer to phones that can be mainly used for voice. As an extension, I am proposing that the basic phone would be extended to include optimised Web access

The operative word being ‘Optimized.’ Phones today are not optimized towards accessing information from the Web. They lean at one end to being ‘voice only’ and the other end to being ‘Smartphones’ .

Thus, this new ‘phone’ – if it may be called that would have the following features (fewer the merrier!)

  • It is a ‘phone’
  • Its screen and other device form factors are optimized to browse the Web (sort of like the Blackberry device is predominantly geared towards e-mail)
  • It would include ‘caching’ i.e. localized storage if information
  • Network connections would be optimized towards browsing
  • It would also support Syndication, Widgets etc on a mobile device(not just browsing)

One way to look at it is to think of the same principles of simplicity and optimization both of Nicholas Negroponte’s idea of the $100 computer or Larry Ellison’s Network computer. Implementation aside, the $100 PC and the Network computer are basically valid and the idea of a ‘Mobile Web Phone’ is taking the same principles to the Mobile Web.

But it’s important to see what this idea is NOT and also some caveats

 

  1. It is not a VOIP phone
  2. It could be implemented by anyone i.e. network operators / device manufacturers etc.
  3. It is not the same as the Sony Mylo – an excellent device but conceptually oriented to a different purpose
  4. It could be based on the idea of Cloud computing as I said in a previous blog
  5. It is simple, cheap and based on Web standards(W3C)
  6. It supports the ‘Full’ web browser i.e. not only WAP

Who could do this?

Many people but my bets are : Google, Opera, the operators (maybe 3 considering their recent announcements , a handset vendor, Nokia or a new start-up?

I am sure that variants of this idea exist on the Web. I just wanted to put it all together, ‘Open-source’ this idea and create some discussion around it – with the hope that someone with more resources will take it. Please post comments/email me at ajit.jaokar at futuretext.com and I will try to blog/comment on it

 

More Stories By Ajit Jaokar

Ajit Jaokar is the author of the book 'Mobile Web 2.0' and is also a member of the Web2.0 workgroup. Currently, he plays an advisory role to a number of mobile start-ups in the UK and Scandinavia. He also works with the government and trade missions of a number of countries including South Korea and Ireland. He is a regular speaker at SYS-CON events including AJAXWorld Conference & Expo.

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Most Recent Comments
William Frantz 12/13/06 03:51:49 PM EST

There's not enough mobile web content to justify a mobile web phone. Also a Windows Mobile phone can do what you want, you just wish the devices were cheaper and simpler. Remember "internet appliances"? People though PCs were too expensive and complex so they built appliances that were optimized for web browsing. Surprisingly(?) consumers kept buying complex PCs that were only slightly more expensive. The purpose-built devices never caught on.

mathiastck 12/12/06 05:11:19 PM EST

Doesn't a sidekick fit this description?

Stacey Roos 12/11/06 03:57:12 AM EST

I totally agree that many people in developing countries skip the pc entirely and use a phone. Here in South Africa, most of the lower income domestic workers (typically having moderate / poor educational qualifications) wouldn't have a clue how to operate a pc, and wouldn't be able to afford one - but a huge proportion of them have cell phones.

ChiJoan 12/08/06 02:30:38 PM EST

I think you are wrong because I want the Web access for my browsing and email, the phone should take the back seat, and that's why I don't have one yet. The phone calls should be extra, but not by the minute if WIFI isn't available to connect for browsing. The plans so far are backwards for my purposes.

Also Nokia should throw in a phone for their Linux tablet when WIFI isn't available, it could be by plan or Pay-As-Use type.

Thanks,
ChiJoan

Paul Heitkemper 12/08/06 11:59:21 AM EST

you mean like these?

http://www.linuxdevices.com/news/NS8030785497.html

or

http://www.theinquirer.net/default.aspx?article=35590

Geoff Scales 12/08/06 11:26:36 AM EST

I really see the opportunity here expressed by Ajit. There is a niche in wireless not yet being filled.

Part of this opportunity could involve high usage from specific vertical markets/segments (and a launch opportunity from a start-up view point). As an example, we've built a web/voice application for the Real Estate space, which has a number of integration scenarios. An easy wireless voice/web solution with simple point of entry would have huge implications, if initially only as an Agent admin tool show piece as the start of a viral opportunity.

I would be happy to collaborate with any effort to package such a product. What's needed I would think is a good concept plan from a product designer with a good understanding of the "Who can do" players. If anybody had this, I might even possibly raise a bit of money.

I would like to hear from Ajit as well on this, specifically who the operators and handset vendors might be. Coming from North America, the wireless market is not nearly what it is in Europe.

Geoff Scales 12/08/06 11:26:22 AM EST

I really see the opportunity here expressed by Ajit. There is a niche in wireless not yet being filled.

Part of this opportunity could involve high usage from specific vertical markets/segments (and a launch opportunity from a start-up view point). As an example, we've built a web/voice application for the Real Estate space, which has a number of integration scenarios. An easy wireless voice/web solution with simple point of entry would have huge implications, if initially only as an Agent admin tool show piece as the start of a viral opportunity.

I would be happy to collaborate with any effort to package such a product. What's needed I would think is a good concept plan from a product designer with a good understanding of the "Who can do" players. If anybody had this, I might even possibly raise a bit of money.

I would like to hear from Ajit as well on this, specifically who the operators and handset vendors might be. Coming from North America, the wireless market is not nearly what it is in Europe.