I believe the era of a crippled mobile browser is coming to an end very soon (sorry, BlackBerry and all the cellular companies), thanks to the iPhone and the iPod Touch. Yes, Palm has been there too with its Blazer browser, but it was the iPhone that made the idea of the mobile Web real to the world at large. Given the crippled-Web strategies of most mobile devices today, our mobile widget won't work on many. But it will work on the most popular mobile devices: the iPhone/iPod Touch and Symbian 12-based Nokia devices; these two devices account for about 0.23 percent each of Web traffic, versus 0.06% for all Windows Mobile versions combined and nearly 0 percent for Palm OS devices, according to March 2008 data from both Net Applications and StatCounter. Users have quickly migrated to the mobile Web 2.0 devices, and that's where InfoWorld will play.
The Windows Sentinel mobile widget should also work with the Blazer browser on Palm OS-based Treos and the Opera Mini browser available for a variety of mobile devices, though given the wide number of variants, we're not prepared to guarantee that.
When Microsoft releases its Windows Mobile 6.1 platform and its promised truly Web-compatible mobile Internet Explorer, we hope our widget will become available to that community. If you use Windows Mobile 6 or earlier, all bets are off. The RIM BlackBerry is not compatible, even if you fiddle with its settings to simulate a Web browser.
Focusing on mobile Web 2.0 devices also simplified a difficult question: what screen sizes to support. When you take in all the mobile devices that have some graphical capability and Internet connectivity, you discover dozens of variations, using different standards to boot. It's nuts to try to support them all, even if you use a tool such as Adobe Device Central that tracks the dozens of display profiles for you.
By sticking with mobile Web 2.0 devices, that universe got a lot smaller. That range of sizes is still bigger than it should be, but I'm confident that the iPhone's 320-by-480-pixel screen will set the bar for the rest of the market, in a year or two, we'll see most devices either at that size or at a 240-pixel width, as many Palm, Symbian and Windows Mobile devices still use.
Fortunately, Kennedy had designed his monitors to be compact, so it was trivial for him to adjust their size to fit the 240-pixel width I decided would be our minimum. That left precious little space for the "skin" that wraps his monitors, presenting a real challenge to our designer. Ultimately, I asked him to design it to look good at 320-pixel width but to work in a collapsed form at 240 pixels. My bet is simple: The world will coalesce at the 320-pixel width in the next two years, so the 240-pixel devices are soon to be our legacy and should not overly confine where we want to be.