Mobile Web sucks — or maybe it doesn’t

by Mathew on September 26, 2007 · 13 comments

So it appears that Russell Beattie — who took a sabbatical from blogging for a year or so, for reasons I never quite understood — is, well… a little ticked at some of the criticisms that Scott Karp levels at the mobile Web in a post at Publishing 2.0. So ticked that he sprinkles his post liberally with the F word (a good, Anglo-Saxon word that I have no problem with).

prod-mobile.jpgI actually found myself nodding as I read Scott’s list of things he dislikes about the mobile Web experience. For example, Russell essentially calls Scott a moron because he complains about how most websites don’t automatically detect a mobile browser and send a mobilized version of their site — but that’s something that bugs me too. I have a script for my blog (from the excellent Alex King) that serves up a stripped-down version when it detects a mobile device. It’s not rocket surgery. But lots of sites don’t do it.

But Russell says this complaint just “highlights one’s inability to use a decent mobile browser and or the lack of effort to bookmark a site’s mobile version,” which I think kind of misses the point. It’s possible that Russell’s thoughts on that particular matter have something to do with the fact that he’s working on a startup called Mowser.com, which does exactly that — takes websites and feeds them through a transmogrifier that turns them into mobile-friendly sites.

I also happen to think that mobile sites could cut down on the advertising a bit, which is another of Scott’s criticisms. But Russell says that “complaining about a website having ads is like complaining it’s not 1996 anymore. Grow up.” Why not keep the ads on the full version of the site, where most people still go? That doesn’t seem like a huge deal to me either.

I have nothing against a little swearing to make a point — in fact, I’m in favour of it. And I like a strongly-worded critical polemic or two (and have written my share). But to me, Russell’s post seemed so angry and over the top that it made me wonder what else was going on. Rex seems to agree with me. I certainly don’t think that Scott said anything as moronic as Russ is making it out to be. Karoli has more at Odd Time Signatures.

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