Most cell phone, smartphone and PDA owners have an option to surf the web from their mobile devices. But in the U.S., few actually exercise that option. Adam Wright, senior research manager with research group Ipsos Insight, sees a flattening out in rates of users accessing the web through mobile devices. "People are comparing it to their PC in the workplace or at home, and [they] feel it's not a good experience," says Wright. "It's a user interface thing." Small screens and other technical challenges make the experience pale in comparison with browsing on a regular computer.
The U.S. reluctance to adopt the mobile web hasn't escaped attention. Some new developments are aimed at improving the mobile web experience. The .mobi top level domain designed to help clear up web address confusion and let users know which sites are optimized and formatted for mobile devices opened for registration in 2006. On the first day .mobi was open to the general public, more than 75,000 businesses and individuals registered names. Visit http://pc.mtld.mobi for more information or to find a registrar. Meanwhile, the World Wide Web Consortium, or W3C, has published a working draft of the Device Independent Authoring Language, or DIAL, aimed at helping web designers create sites for viewing on any mobile device.
Although some big players have already launched .mobi sites, entrepreneurs may want to wait and see if .mobi and DIAL catch on before making substantial investments in this arena. In the long run, Wright sees new mobile form factors like the ultra mobile Origami PC concept perhaps boosting mobile web access. Don't look for any landslide shifts in mobile web use, but road warrior entrepreneurs are anticipating a better on-the-go web experience in the future.