First of all, the briefest of primers to let all of you know what I'm talking about.
Most cell carriers, including mine (AT&T Mobility) offer subject-oriented content decks that offer links to stories and services from favored content partners.
Just one example: AT&T's MediaNet, with a topic tree organized around CNN and some others. Money changing hands to make this happen? You betcha.
When it comes to these wireless content decks, it's all about the content alliances, and not what you want.
I suppose these decks are useful to some, but my problem with this whole arrangement starts with the hoops you have to jump through to find mobile content from sources that compete with these providers.
Mobile search services, as well as the carriers, will tell you about strides.
Well, they can say what they want, but then consider these comments made at the Mobile World Congress yesterday by Mike Yonker, who is general manager of worldwide strategy and ops for Texas Instruments' wireless terminals business unit.
David Benjamin of EETimes was there for Yonker's remarks to a panel entitled "It's The User Experience, Stupid.
David draws on Yonker's comments to write in part:
(Yonker) said that the way for the user to get the rich content now available on a mobile handset is through the "search" function. But this isn't so easy. He compared the limitations of a mobile handset to a full personal computer screen.
Searching on a computer, he said, is like going to a store, where the customers sees every product displayed, and can make comparisons, touch the products, even try things on for size. Doing the same search on a mobile, he said, but like trying to shop in the same store but "through a drive-up window." No matter how much stuff is in the store, you can only find out through the cashier at the drive-up window.
The dilemma, left unsolved by the panelists, was how to squeeze the user through that window, past the cashier, to sample all the things in the store, without guilt, while still feeling grateful to the cashier who seemed, all along, to be standing in the way.
Everyone agreed that, so far, only Apple (iPhone) has been able to turn this trick. For users, "the content is the core," said Lipman of Power2B somewhat ruefully, "and we have to get out of their way."
But you know, that's because when it comes to the iPhone's onscreen taxonomy, Apple, and not AT&T, calls the shots.
As to the question that constitutes this post's title, it does indeed seem to me that these carriers care so much more about keeping their content decks neat, tidy, and money-flowing than they care about instituting mobile search with comprehensiveness, clarity and a good working UI.
Not channeling my better angels here, but I am so frustrated about sucky mobile search that part of me wishes the decks to fade into irrelevancy.
Do you wish that as well?