I have lots of friends who have BlackBerrys and Palm devices and even the “other” smartphones (which shall remain nameless due to the fact that I can’t name them all). If you’ve read any of my other postings or articles you have probably figured out the fact that I am a BlackBerry junkie, or rather “CrackBerry” addict as the tech community so fondly refers to such an addiction/hobby.
All BlackBerry devices and Palm devices have a web browser that will access the internet as long as you have a data plan (which, if you get email, your device most likely has a data plan that will allow you access to the internet). MANY companies these days are creating specific content adapted for mobile devices. In fact some company websites have a very cool feature that will direct you to their mobile version of their site if it recognizes you have a smartphone. On the other hand some companies choose to make mobile-specific sites. Many of those sites will either be named with a “www.Blah.mobi” name or they might use “www.blah.com/mobile” or even “m.blah.com”. Either way, these are great indications to us “surfers on the go”.
So, what types of information would one have a use for while on the go? Well, my personal favorite is through Yahoo, MSN, or AOL’s mobile site. On there you have access to your email (of course) and you can get movie times, weather, news and all sorts of other info you would expect to find at their normal website. The best part is that they are VERY well adapted to load quickly on your phone AND they are layed out in a way that makes them very easy to read from a mobile device.
Another great use is when I’m “out and about” and friends are discussing movies or music and say, “Gosh, I sure wish I could remember who that main character was in Juno!” I’ll just pull up Google on my BlackBerry, type in “Juno actor” and VOILA! As easy as pie! Or (and I’ve never used this one, but it sounds neat) I’ve found a site called “Drinkboy” which is a mobile site where you can look up drink recipes! Useful for some, but unless they are telling me how to make a Bud Light I don’t have much use for it.
Do you have a Picasa photo account (where you can upload and share photos)? This one is easily accessible from your mobile! How about Flickr, another photo sharing site?
Do you have a security system in your home? Some of these systems (many nowadays I imagine) can be accessed through the web. Mine even goes a step further, it has a special website designed just to login to your security system. From there I can check the status of the system, arm or disarm the alarm and check the last 24 hours of activity. This isn’t just handy or neat! This has been a “lifesaver” (though not literally). When I’m away from the house I can login to make sure I armed the alarm before leaving. OR when I’m away I can send my neighbor over the check something. Since I have a coded lock system on my house I only have to send a command to my alarm system to disarm. Now she can help me with whatever task I need and I can rearm the alarm when she leaves. This has come in quite useful on several occasions.
These websites are the next generation of web development. People are addicted to having ANY information they desire within seconds (for example). And now, that even means while away from their normal computer. For those who haven’t discovered the mobile web it probably hasn’t become a necessity. But, once you start using it (just like using a PC on a regular basis) you start to think, “How did I get along without this???”
Some websites just won’t load on a mobile device… well, without a little help that is! Even websites that give lots of trouble on a mobile device can be conquered. Let me introduce you to Google’s “mobilizer”. This is a website you can go to from your mobile device and it gives you what looks like a search box, but in fact you enter a website address in the box and hi GO! Google mobilizer converts that website to a format that will be accessible from your device. It basically strips out many of the images, which sometimes take a long time to load, and it strips out any fancy web script, like “flash” which is just pictures moving all around on the screen. After all, when you are surfing from a mobile device “pretty” isn’t what you’re interested in. You just prefer the content and information in a format you can read. If you’d like to give it a try type in http://www.google.com/gwt/n.
I recently discovered a website called “Mobile Mammoth“. This website features “A New Mobile Website Every Day”. It’s a great place to browse just to see what’s available out there. Here’s one of my favorite articles on there “71 Ways to Make the Mobile Web Work For You“.
I’ve found this concept of the mobile web so intriguing that I’ve started creating one for ALA’s (Association of Legal Administrators) Annual Conference here in Seattle May 5-8, 2008. I think it’s prime time to launch a site where conference attendees can search for restaurants, lookup the conference schedule and room assignments, search the vendor hall listings, get Announcements of prize drawings, and get general information about the conference events. In an industry and organization that keeps talking about “going green” this is a perfect opportunity to strut their stuff! I’m very excited about the launch. It’s currently accessible from mobile devices AND a desktop at http://2008Seattle.googlepages.com (though I haven’t yet decided if that will be the final home).
I hope this glimpse into the future prompts some thought for how you use your BlackBerry, Palm or other Smartphone, and more importantly, I hope this prompts you to consider mobile web surfing when developing your firms new website.
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