The beginning of this century has seen the explosion of the World Wide Web. Overused, and sometimes even reviled, as the term “Web 2.0″ can be, nobody can deny that it has further enriched the Internet. In recent months, an offshoot of Web 2.0 has been emerging – the Mobile Web. With the Internet almost reaching its maximum potential – at least until the next major development breaks through – all gears are now shifting to the next frontier – the MOBILE.

Simply put, Mobile Web is the World Wide Web accessed through mobile phones and other mobile devices. The advancement of mobile devices from different makers has spurred its growth. Cutting edge gadgets such as Apple’s iPhone have brought even more attention to the endless possibilities of mobile web.

Users with mobile phones and other hand-held devices that have built-in web browsers can view regular websites on their devices even with its smaller screens. However, there is still the inconvenience factor of having to keep on scrolling sideways and downwards to completely view the web pages. This is where mobile sites come in. Mobile sites are mini-websites formatted to fit the smaller screens of mobile phones and other mobile devices. Though there are some features that are only possible with regular websites, users can still do almost the same things on a mobile site as they can on a regular website.

But is mobile web exactly the same as the World Wide Web? Is it simply the World Wide Web in miniature? Will it ever totally replace the World Wide Web? The answer is no. Mobile web, for all its rich features and interactivity, still does not really approximate the World Wide Web especially in terms of functionality due to device and format limitations. Users cannot really expect mobile sites to look and behave exactly as a regular website would.

A mobile site entails different programming scripts from regular websites. The range of coding scripts, CSS style sheets and fonts, among others, are limited in mobile web. Also, a lot of mobile devices default to their own font sizes and families. There are also limitations on interactivity and applications. Another issue is connectivity. People on mobile devices go in and out of coverage areas, and the amount of bandwidth can surge up and down, thus possibly hindering a full mobile web experience.

The device itself also plays a factor in the divide between the World Wide Web and the mobile web. Handhelds are not as powerful as desktops or portable computers when it comes to data handling and processing and display of rich media. There is also a limitation on navigation capability. Desktop-style navigation schemes may work on mobile devices, but not really as well as they do on PCs because of the smaller screen size and limited scrolling and pointing capabilities.

Limitations aside, however, mobile web has great potential and is slated to be ‘the next big thing’ in Internet technology. The one great edge of mobile web is instant access – the ability to connect people anytime, anywhere they are, and at the exact moment. The day may come when the divide between the World Wide Web and the mobile web will be bridged, but until then, many individuals and companies are coming up with different ways to narrow the gap.

There are currently several mobile site providers that offer tools for users to create and edit their own mobile sites through an Internet-connected PC. Each of these providers have its own unique features and advantages.
In spite of the limitations of mobile web, it is still a very important development that brings the Internet to even more people across the globe. In the future, mobile web may eventually run alongside the World Wide Web in terms of features and functionality. But until then, the key is to find ways to maximize the mobile web and make it work for your specific needs.
-Leah Forteza

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