I was sitting in a comfy chair at home this weekend and spinning through my FriendFeeds as I do frequently to see what my peeps were up to. I find it a brilliant use of a few moments when they present themselves because there are no shortage of topics being actively discussed on the Internet. Steve Rubel, no question one of the most active tweeters out there (and a truly nice guy) posed an interesting question and asked his followers how they consume the web when away from the office. Not to put words in Steve’s mouth but I took his question to really mean how do you consume the web when away from a computer? Steve started getting answers to his question immediately and it was an excellent conversation and one that got me to thinking about how my own web consumption has changed.
The most telling change to my web consumption is evident with the above web session itself. I was sitting in the comfy chair and following Steve’s conversation on my iPhone. In the past I would likely have been using one of the ultra-portable notebooks or Tablet PCs at my disposal, or maybe the HTC Advantage PDA. It didn’t take me long after getting the iPhone to gravitate to it when these brief web-browsing opportunities present themselves. At first I figured I was grabbing the iPhone due to its portability and small size. After all it fits in the hand and is flat easy to grab and go to the web. Upon further reflection however I realized that while the portability is a strong factor in my increasingly heavier usage of the iPhone for web work the main factor is simply how good the browsing experience is on the device. Mobile Safari is hands down the best mobile browser on the market and while many of us poked fun at Jobs’ "the real Internet" speech in this case he was telling us the truth.
Opera Mobile 9.5 on the Windows Mobile platform comes close toproviding a web experience to rival that of the iPhone but falls shortjust enough to keep me picking up the iPhone. Maybe mobile Safari isbenefitting from the touch-optimized iPhone interface, in fact itprobably is. Opera Mobile 9.5 might be good enough if it was runningon a device that had been built from the ground up to be manipulated bytouch, or maybe not. The problem is we’ll never know because none ofthe iPhone’s competitors can approach the touch interface and theusability it provides on the iPhone.
I find myself, like a lot of those who responded to Steve’sconversation, grabbing the iPhone more and more when I want to jump onthe web. I can easily do most anything I want to do on the web usingthe iPhone and it’s just plain easier to use than any other mobilebrowser platform. Sure text entry is not the best with the on-screenkeyboard but let’s face it, how often do I really need to enter a lotof text? Not as often as I might have thought at first. So I amfinding the iPhone is changing the way I consume the web, and from whatI saw online this weekend I’m not alone. You just can’t argue againstsomething that does what you want so well.
There are very few web sites that don’t work on the iPhone and thatsurprises me. I guess I’m prejudiced by my past experiences with otherbrowsers but I find almost all sites work very well on the iPhone. Theonly sites that don’t work well are those optimized for mobilebrowsers, an ironic situation. A word of advice for webmasters, if youhave a stripped down version of your web site for mobile browsers wedon’t need it on the iPhone. Having a second version of your site forother mobile browsers is great but don’t make your main site auto-checkfor a desktop browser and then force my iPhone to a stripped downversion of your site. They don’t work as well as the full site and Iwon’t likely come back.