Is the Wap Glass 1/4 Full, or 3/4 Empty?

A new survey by hosting group, Hostway, has found that 27% of UK mobile users browse the mobile web.

This is uncannily close to the last M:Metrics’ data I saw, which put it at 29%. Whatever the exact figure, I think it’s pretty remarkable that WAP has progressed this far and it’s certainly not a case of 73% DON’T use it, as most journos have spun the story, but that usage has passed the Innovators, moved through the Early Adopters and sits somewhere in the Early Majority community. Several chasms have¬†now been crossed and once that happens, ubiquity is inevitable. Within two years now, WAP usage will be the same as sms, which is a truly remarkable turnaround for a protocol which has been ignored in marketing terms by our operator friends for the last 3 years or so.

The survey went on to state such bleeding obvious “issues” that people were put off by slow loading sites, poor navigation and the fact that 25% of sites were simply inaccessible via a mobile. For me, the fact that 27% of people persevere and put up with these real issues is the truly remarkable stat.

Lest we forget, slow connection and poor navigation are not issues unique to the mobile web – we’ve been here before with these exact same problems 10 years ago with the computer web. Once you’ve “surfed” the net¬†with a¬†14.4 kb modem, you truly understand the meaning of slow. So taking 1997 as a snap shot comparison, a mere 3% of UK households were accessing the web back then. While it’s clearly comparing oranges with mutant bananas, I still think it speaks volumes that we’re around 9 times ahead of the old computer world in terms of accessing the web via the mobile.

So the future is really looking bright for WAP and the mobile web now. As speed increases and as¬†site designers finally¬†realize that there’s more to a mobile web site than simply copying the full web version, the reasons for non-usage will gradually disappear. As more and more users finally start using the mobile web, it’ll become clear to everyone that the future of the web is mobile and we’ll smile nostalgically at those hulking great machines we used to hook up to the digital world with – what we call computers, nowadays.

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