Not that long ago, the concept of having the web on your cell phone was nothing but a faint glimmer of a future possibility. Now, with smart phones becoming ubiquitous and the mobile web exploding in popularity, developers and engineers are having to contend with building sites that work for users on all sorts of interfaces.
There are plenty of obvious sorts of websites that should definitely go mobile; for instance, having access to things like Mapquest for directions (for those of us without GPS in our cars, and for when you’re not in a car to begin with – walking, biking, etc.) and review sites like Yelp (so you can find a good restaurant no matter where you are). Being able to log in to social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter could be convenient to if you want to send a quick, easy message to a group of friends. And of course, we probably all want to email people with our phones or pdas.
However, the Japanese have taken the mobile to a whole new level. Not surprisingly, they’re pretty advanced when it comes to actual technology, but people there are using mobile phones to pen entire novels! Yes, you read that correctly – novels. Talk about pushing the limits of things like mo-blogging, or mobile blogging. Granted, Japan is far from the only place where people are using cell phones to publish web content (in fact, this is especially prevalent in developing nations where people might not have access to computers, but they do have phones), but who else has created this kind of rich, deep mobile web?
From the Wall Street Journal:
“Mobile novels first appeared about seven years ago when the community-based Web site, Maho i-Land, made it possible for budding writers to turn out stories with a cover page and chapters like a real book. About three years ago, phone companies began offering high-speed mobile Internet and affordable flat-rate plans for transmitting data. Users could then access the Internet as much as they wanted to for less than $50 a month.”
Today, the site has over six million members, and the number of mobile novels on the site is growing rapidly. What’s interesting is how the authors and readers have a much stronger connection than traditional novelists – after all, the readers can provide immediate feedback and criticism (much like blogging), and since the novels are published in a serial fashion, the authors can even adapt their story lines to the whims of the readers, a definite departure from the past.
“New creative practices sometimes awkwardly explore new market niches until they discover and establish a means of exploiting the advantages (and avoiding the disadvantages) imposed by the social and economic variables that make the new opportunity available in the first place. Then they may explode in a sudden flowering that breathes into life a new form of expression.”
So what can we learn from these articles? Many developers and entreprenuers are very focused on applications, websites, and content that really only work on a regular computer, and really, with the current amazing growth in the smart phone/mobile web market, it’s time to think outside of the typical computing box. Maybe you’ve got a plan to set up some kind of community news group diary or blog? Or can you adapt your current ideas to the mobile market? If so, you should enter the news challenge – you could be that much closer to making your dreams a reality.