Farewell, Mowser, We Hardly Knew You

Russell Beattie had an interesting idea. He observed the fascination that other countries had for using their smartphones and other mobile devices to browse the Web. He started mowser and tried to put the big Web onto the small screen in your pocket. Yesterday he announced that he's giving up the effort, and offers a cautionary opinion to others that might try developing the same market: forget it.

In other words, I think anyone currently developing sites using XHTML-MP markup, no Javascript, geared towards cellular connections and two inch screens are simply wasting their time, and I'm tired of wasting my time.

The argument up to now has been simply that there are roughly 3 billion phones out there, and that when these phones get on the Internet, their vast numbers will outweigh PCs and tilt the market towards mobile as the primary web device. The problem is that these billions of users *haven't* gotten on the Internet, and they won't until the experience is better and access to the web is barrier-free - and that means better devices and "full browsers". Let's face it, you really aren't going to spend any real time or effort browsing the web on your mobile phone unless you're using Opera Mini, or have a smart phone with a decent browser - as any other option is a waste of time, effort and money. Users recognize this, and have made it very clear they won't be using the "Mobile Web" as a substitute for better browsers, rather they'll just stay away completely.

The original strategy around Mowser was pretty simple - provide a service which helps websites go mobile, helps mobile sites connect to the regular web, and helps users access the web from any handset. By adapting every website on the planet, theoretically Mowser has an unlimited amount of content to serve up - and though none of that content is directly monetizable, the plan was to capture enough ancillary traffic to make it worth while.

Unsurprisingly, Beattie says what little traffic he was able to attract was mostly pornography. But mold always grows where there's no sunshine. So squashing the Web to fit on your device would appear to be a non-starter. The devices will have to be made to accommodate the Web, or die on the vine. By the way, Russell mentioned he wouldn't mind a job offer right about now. He should post that on the Internet somehow.
Tags:  WS, fare, AR, K