Mobile Internet: Past, Present, and the Future

Mobile Internet: Past, Present, and the Future

Anne Kaikkonen (Nokia Corporation, Finland)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-499-8.ch018

Abstract

The Mobile Internet is no longer a new phenomenon; the first mobile devices supporting Web access were introduced over 10 years ago. During the past 10 years many user studies have been conducted that have generated insights into mobile Internet use. The number of mobile Internet users has increased and the focus of the studies has switched from the user interface to user experiences. Mobile phones are regarded as personal devices: the current possibility of gathering more contextual information and linking that to the Internet creates totally new challenges for user experience and design.
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Did We Learn Anything From Wap That We Can Use In The Future?

During the first years of WAP, many researchers published papers related to user interface (UI) design and usability—for example, Buchanan et al. (2001), Chittaro and Dal Cin (2002), Kim et al. (2002), Kaikkonen and Roto (2003), and Hyvärinen et al. (2005), amongst many others. In addition to technology and protocol information, such papers also contain generic information related to the usability of, and design for, small screens and spotty networks; this generic information can certainly inform the future design and evaluation of any services targeted at small screens.

Another obvious lesson is not related to user interface design or usability, but rather to how important it is to take user expectations and mental models into consideration. The disappointment portrayed by the media in early 2000 reflected the mismatch between the message and user perception. In the midst of the hype, analysis of the reasons for the hype took second place to market messages. The companies developing mobile technologies are not, however, entirely to blame; critical public reviews were, in general, pretty rare. The public message on the mobile Internet in Europe and North America failed to take into consideration the perception and mental models of users. The situation in Japan and South Korea shows that the problem was not entirely related to network and device limitations, but was, instead, more complex. When the mobile Internet became available in Japan, the Internet penetration was fairly low (13.4% in 1998) and mobile phone penetration high (57.7% in 1998); as a result, most users did not have a clear perception as to the Internet per se, and so the local operators were able to advertise the mobile Internet by highlighting its benefits. At the same time, Western operators and technology developers continued advertising WAP with gimmicky technical terms. These lessons are not unique to WAP, but they clearly show that you should know your audience, its perceptions and values, and match your message to these!

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