In a South African first, Vodacom’s Mobile Internet service will give an accurate representation of the ‘net on a cell phone using technology that adapts the computer-screen format of any website into a smaller, cell phone-friendly format.
align=justifyShameel Joosub, managing director of Vodacom Mobile Internet says the service will revolutionise the way South Africans use the internet. “Vodacom clients now have the freedom to explore a much wider world on an extensive range of cell phones, experiencing the familiarity of the internet they previously enjoyed via a computer.”
align=justifyJoosub points out, however, that the new Mobile Internet service aims to make it easier to access websites from a cell-phone but that some websites may contain too much information for the cell phone to handle, require code that the cell phone does not understand, or offer services that the cell phone cannot access.
align=justifyVodacom’s new service claims quick download times, access to all the world’s websites (not just a few), and simple billing based on existing data tariffs. Vodacom estimates that, depending on the size of the website being accessed, it will cost customers between 19c and R2 to view 10-20 web pages.
align=justifyThen there’s design . . .
align=justifyWith “mobile” being the latest buzz word and cell phones able to do everything except make tea, we wondered how this is going to affect the large web design market in South Africa. Until now, anyone with a little html knowledge or Flash skills could put together a website – many times with great technical talent but little knowledge of the market in which the website is to operate.
align=justifyIn a small test from my ADSL line I accessed the SABC’s site to find info on programming. The clicks went like this: Home page – television – SABC2 – new browser – programming. Not too slow, though, I must admit. The DStv home page is graphic intensive, but all the details were available right on the home page. The Home Channel’s home page offers all the info I was looking for – except it didn’t match the actual programming!
align=justifyI Googled some local web design companies for some comments. The first two of the five I accessed didn’t have a phone number on their front page. The next three had phone numbers, but apparently nobody to answer the phones.
align=justifyI called Frank Coerlin, managing director of the new media and web development company AdOne in Johannesburg to find out how web designers may have to change their ways to accommodate companies who want cell phone users to access their info.
align=justify”Firstly, we won’t make use of Flash as much,” says Coerlin. “Many phones are not compatible with it and it does use up a lot of resources.” He also said that his company is already gearing up for the mobile wave, and believes it’s going to be “the next big thing”.R
align=justify”We will be looking at our clients’ markets and if there’s any chance mobile is the way to go for them, we’ll design accordingly. Of course, contact details on the front page goes without saying.”
align=justifyCoerlin says the mobile internet market – while accessible to anyone with a cell phone – will probably appeal more to the younger set. He also suggests parents get savvy on how to put securities into browsers on their children’s cell phones: “While kids can access all that excellent educational stuff, they will also be able to access the things they shouldn’t. Parents must be vigilant.”
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