Five Reasons Why The Mobile Web Sucks and the counter arguments from Russell (warning, littered with expletives) made me think about blogs, mobile web and the proliferation of blogs on mobile phones and mobile browsers. Since I am closely involved with many of the technologies that are being bolstered or criticized on those posts, I have my own opinions about some of them.
- Wireless carrier networks are SLOW: I am not so sure. Sprint has decent speeds and I can surf just fine on my phone or by using it as a modem. It is not as good as my 17 Mbps cable modem, but when I was stuck in a hospital and needed to call my parents in India using Skype via Sprint through my 755p, it worked like a charm. My VPN back to work and most surfing done over the phone was painless and got me through our crisis without loss of communications. The experience left me wishing (among other things) more sites and blogs used Alex’s Mobile Edition plugin including Weblog Tools Collection.
- Public WiFi access is a SCAM: Scam is too strong a word and quite misleading. Localized public WiFi has been successfully deployed over and over again. Airport WiFi, WiFi in smaller stores and shops, public arenas and other public locations work and work quite well. Citywide WiFi however runs into trouble. Some of my friends and co-workers own WiFi enabled phones such as the iPhone and the Sprint Mogul and they browse the web with aplomb on their phones.
- Sites aren’t formated for small screens: Yes and no. I say yes because more sites and blogs need to be mobile web enabled. I say no because Opera Mini and Blazer do a terrific job of making the large screen formatted sites so much easier to use and navigate. You really have to use these browsers in their present incarnations to know how far they have come. I regularly browse my favorites and answer emails from my phone during lunch.
- Mobile device screens are too small: Yes. But I would rather carry a phone and use it for all my web needs than carry a laptop (in addition to the phone) if I don’t have to.
- Advertising gets in the way: This point is completely lost on me.
The real contention is how badly you want to browse the web over your phone and not how the mobile experience is not as good as that on your desktop or laptop. My father used to hate browsing the web on my phone but that was because he was averse to new technology and he had a hard time using it. However, since he has gotten interested in blogging, he wants to check his visitor stats and his email on my phone when we are traveling and that desire has helped him try to understand mobile browsing a little better. I suspect that a lot of the hoopla and complaining about the mobile web is done by people who have pre-conceived notions about the mobile technology and are not giving it a fair shot. Wireless, WiFi and mobile browsing technology has come a long way and much of it is due to dedicated, fanatical and enterprising professionals and technologists such as Russell.
With that in mind, I did some research on mobile tools, plugins and themes for WordPress. What have you done to your WordPress blog to make it accessible from mobile browsers? If having a mobile version was as simple as installing a plugin in WordPress, do you think that it would be worth having a mobile version of your site?
- The first one on the list is Alex’s Mobile Edition. Everyone uses it, it works well and everyone loves it. (Alex, I know I have whined about this before, but we really need some anchors for your plugins)
- iWPhone plugin and theme combination from Content.Robot which displays an iPhone version of your WordPress blog to visitors from the iPhone and the iPhone Touch
- Andy Moore’s WordPress Mobile Plugin which allows you to view posts, pages, archives and comments on a mobile device. Standards are supported, posts and comments can be submitted by phone and your WordPress is easily moneitized by AdMob.
- iPhone Mobile Admin provides an iPhone interface to your WordPress backend. Dan promises that though the iPhone is the only phone supported in this version, he has plans to support other phones as well.
- WordPress PDA is a plugin that allows you to view your WordPress blog on a PDA browser
- WP-WAP is a plugin from the amazing Lester Chan that will let you browse your WordPress blog from a WAP enabled phone
If you use any other plugins that enhance the mobile experience on WordPress please let me know. Do you have a mobile edition of your WordPress blog?