Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Future - is it mobile?

All the indications are that the future is very much in the mobile arena from what we may already read. The number of mobile users overtook desk-based in 2008 (Wikipedia). There were a lot of hopes pinned on mobile access to the web when it first became commercially available in Finland in 1996. However, performance and usability have been an issue which the industry has fought to cope with. Ruti Gafni as recently as last year developed an empirical for evaluating usability of mobile devices so that it was possible to measure this when comparing phones, PDAs, etc.

Several alternatives to accessing Internet content have been tried in the years since the Internet became more widely available. This is neatly presented chronologically by Tony Quin in his page: Digital Magazines - a history". One of the more interesting for me was the magazine "Unzip", which was a CD-Rom from IPC was based on content from titles such as New Musical Express and New Scientist in 1995. This coincidental is the year before the first mobile Internet became available. I liked the rich content and graphical interaction in Unzip as well as the fact that there were deep hyperlinks to take you further to the Internet. However, that's when the user experience suffered due to lack of band-width and on top of that multi-media sites were few and far between then.

It is possible though that we about to see the meeting of these two worlds. Gerd Leonhard who is at the forefront of the Internet debate on content and the Internet future has featured the collaboration between Wired Magazine and Adobe.
Does it look like the bridge has been crossed? Well it does depend on the model that the media is brought to the market and the ability of companies to fast track support for the technology. Gerd raises 4 If's and when we get the answers to them we will know if the bridge has been crossed.

References: Usability Issues in Mobile-Wireless Information Systems, Ruti Gafni, The Open University of Israel, Israel

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