The success of the iPhone and Blackberry storm with their full Internet browsing capability could signify a new future for mobile Internet. The ability to view full web pages and navigate with all the ease of a desktop browser, along with the added zoom functionality that makes them readable on a small handset really does give their users full Internet capabilities in a mobile (and an 8GB iPod too in the case of the iPhone 3g!). But what does this mean to the world of mobile Internet and mobile advertising? And does it mean the end of WAP sites and mobile specific channels? After all, as more and more people use handsets with this functionality where is the need for a WAP site?
In the past I have been an advocate of having a WAP site built with clear navigation and easy path to mobile based conversion. Simplifying the user journey is such a way made mobile Internet consumption a much more pleasant experience and from a business perspective would encourage conversion also. But since getting my iPhone and realising how usable the Internet can be made on a mobile device I am starting to think we may have seen the end of WAP sites.
Apart from some initial SEO misgivings (Mobile SEO – Stuck in the Past!) I can’t see many reasons why a business would now choose to invest in a WAP site when the future is quite clearly full browser capabilities through mobile handsets. There is still half an argument for building a specific WAP site based around commonly used mobile functions (such as a simplified interface for balance checking on a bank site for example) but I’m sure there is a simpler way of achieving this than building and maintaining a seperate WAP site.
And its not just WAP sites we are talking here, any technology built specifically for WAP ca[abilities is at risk, including the advertising channels. There is little or no need for a seperate channel for mobile advertising when users are consuming standard Internet through their handsets. The wise thing for publishers and networks is to follow Google’s lead and allow advertisers to opt in and out fo mobile traffic, but continue to use the same ads and format.
It may be too soon to say for sure if this is the way things are going to go, but I know id be sweating if I owned a mobile advertising business. I’d be looking for a way to earn my crust in the new, and much improved, future of mobile Internet.