I vaguely remember Ed Lau mentioning a while back that the concept of giving a “56k beware” warning in forums has essentially lost all meaning. For those of you who don’t know what that means, that warning is included in the title of certain forum threads, telling would-be readers that the contents will probably include a series of high resolution pictures or other multimedia-geared goodies that might not suit the dial-up user quite so well. The reason why Ed said that the warning is essentially obsolete is because he assumes that everyone is on a broadband internet connection and should have no trouble browsing their way through multi-megapixel snapshots of hot girls in bikinis.
It got me thinking, though, that the concept of a “56k beware” warning may not exactly be useless, but rather needs to re-framed under a new context. Sure, everyone that I know is using a broadband ISP (internet service provider) these days and most of these people use that bandwidth to the utmost, watching videos on YouTube, playing online games, and downloading all sorts of rather hefty content. Given how cheap broadband is these days, you have very little reason to restrict yourself to a measly dial-up connection. The price difference is so tiny.
But what about the mobile internet? Data rates in Canada are through the roof, but Apple iPhone users in the United States can have access to unlimited data as part of their $60-or-so monthly plan. The downside is that the iPhone is stuck with a crappy EDGE connection, making for a not-so-fast Internet experience. That hasn’t stopped people from using the mobile version of Safari to hop onto the web. Thus, while you can assume that everyone is using a broadband provider at home, you can’t assume that their cell phones or PDA phones are packing the same kind of high-speed connectivity.
I’m currently using a T-Mobile MDA (unlocked, of course) and it has built-in WiFi. This is great for checking email while I’m at a hotspot, but the data connection gets bottlenecked due to the not-so-speedy processor and the anemic amount of RAM inside. In this way, the new warning that may find itself on Internet forums some day could be “Mobile web beware”, rather than “56k beware”.
We use our cell phones for a heck of a lot more today — camera, MP3 player, calendar, etc. — than we did only a few years ago. The mobile web, and I’m not just talking about ugly WAP, is definitely on the rise and more websites are starting to create mobile-friendly versions of themselves that aren’t quite so data heavy. And forums may soon follow by ripping out avatars and heavy graphics. What do you think? Am I on the ball or am I way out in left field?
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