W3C punts mobile web
Comment According to Computer Business Review, the World Wide Web consortium "has raised about $640,000 for three years to fund the initiative" to bring the benefits of the internet to mobile users.
Most comment on the news ranks pretty high in the "stating the blindingly obvious" - observations such as "most people out of the 1.6 billion phone users, don't use their phone as the primary device to access the web."
The W3C press release quotes web pioneer Tim Berners-Lee as joining in this chorus of platitude: "Mobile access to the web has been a second class experience for far too long," he said.
But his analysis is that standards could make web access less "disappointing" - and the W3C is hoping that proprietary handset standards will give way to universal ones.
According to CIO Today, "Earlier this year the organisation released a specification designed to allow mobile devices of all makes and sizes to display Web pages." It says that the "Composite Capability/Preference Profiles: Structure and Vocabularies 1.0 Recommendation" (CC/PP 1.0) is offered as a spec for many mobile devices, and can now be adopted at the server level on a wider scale."
The Consortium has, in the past, been a useful source of pressure for change; it introduced recommendations for disabled web users, for example. It's harder to see how it can get around the fundamental problem facing the phone users: the display is just too small to show a website as anything other than a tiny key-hole view of the available information.
Astonishingly few websites have actually printed any more information than the W3C put into the official announcement, and it seems that scepticism about any statement from Berners-Lee is regarded as taboo.
But in the end, WAP portals and walled gardens are a temporary phenomenon; the web is heading to pure IP standards, and faster wireless means that the presence or absence of wire connections is going to be largely irrelevant. The initiative is unlikely to be amongst the bigger triumphs of the W3C.