Mobile Surfin’ USA

If everybody had a mobile – across the USA… OK, I’ll stop there. Actually, I’m not much of a Beach Boys fan.

If everybody had a mobile – across the USA… OK, I’ll stop there. Actually, I’m not much of a Beach Boys fan. But betwixt a number of US-based events as I am, I think I’m more acutely aware of the ability to keep online on the go. I actually found myself in ‘Best Buy’ last night sizing up the Asus against the 10 and 11 inch screen rivals from Sony, Acer etc… yes, I know, I’m waiting for the Atom-powered Asus too.

Anyway, the need to stay connected (and follow Bristol City’s inexorable rise to the Premiership playoffs of course) has never been higher for many of us – and in many cases this means web on mobile. I did a research piece on Africa late last year and spoke to an excellent chap from the GSM association called Gabriel Solomon – he asserted that for many people in the poorer nations, a mobile device would be all the computing power they would see for the foreseeable future.

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But the web on a small screen (a handheld I mean) is a pain isn’t it? Web 2.0-powered collaboration software is even encroaching on this space with the likes of IBM and RIM partnering up for all they’re worth.

Apparently, eMarketer (nope, I’ve never heard of them either – a web market research and trend analysis outfit by all accounts) forecasts that mobile social networking will grow from 82 million users in 2007 to over 800 million worldwide by 2012. No major surprise then to see this kind of info sitting close to reports that this year more people in the world will have a mobile device than a landline telephone.

IBM's Institute for Business Value predicts one billion mobile web users by 2011 and a significant shift in the way the majority of people will interact with the web over the next decade.

Big deal, I hate mobiles, small device form factor web search sucks and anyway, I’m a database administrator and I sit at a high-end workstation or desktop machine for 80 per cent of my working life – I hear you say.

As I’ve said before, the trends point to suggest that if you are a developer – you are therefore a mobile developer. All applications migrate in some form to the mobile device. Deference and respect to my pal Neil Roodyn in Australia for writing that in a piece he worked on with me once.

So, you don’t do mobile. Maybe not yet, but soon maybe? Big Blue is stoking up the fires that drive its WebSphere portal and its latest dashboard software, according to IBM, allows you to build web sites and single screen dashboard views for pumping data out to various apps and processes for mobile devices.

Completing the circle here is the fact that this type of technology is designed to appeal. It has the potential draw you in even if you don’t think you’ll enjoy using it. If it’s web 2.0-powered collaboration software personalised to your individual BlackBerry – chances are, you might find it handy.

Or as the Germans might say: mein handy ist handlich!