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Developing websites for PDA browsers

some issues for discussion

4:33 pm on Mar 4, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Hi All

I have been giving a lot of thought to developing a website specifically for PDA browsers.

There has been so much talk about wireless internet for the last couple of years, and I'm wondering if finally there is some merit in developing an internet service aimed exclusively at pda users - i.e. if there is a sufficient amount of users to warrant it. The other way of looking at it is that, even if there aren't enough users at present, maybe it would be wise to start developing a presence now so that when it really takes off, we would be ahead of the game and well established.

But this begs a number of questions/issues (which I would be very grateful to discuss here);

1. different PDA's use different browsers - therefore different layouts would be necessary.

2. different PDA's use different screen resolutions - see above.

3. connection speeds vary

4. not all PDA browsers - so I believe - accept an SSL connection.

5. pda browser emulators do not exist - so I believe - at present. So development costs would be high due to the purchase price of several PDA machines for research purposes (many of which are quickly superseeded with new models incorporating new technology).

6. UK mobile operators are developing their own PDA's (in partnership with other companies), with built in telephone - they are being sold on contracts. What will be the impact of 3rd generation mobile technology on the PDA market.

7. there are many more concerns - perhaps if (and as) the thread evolves, we can expand on the main issues.


You will gather from the points I have raised above that I am not particularly well informed - this is not for want of trying. Finding information about this subject is no walk in the park. But anyway, one has to start somewhere, and I'm sure there are other board members who share my curiousity, and most probably some members who have taken these ideas further and started development already.

From what I gather, there is still a lot of scepticism about the usefullness and practicalities of mobile internet - I have to admit that at first glance it does appear to be a minefield. I personally believe there can be no doubting the usefulness of mobile internet, I can certainly imagine an information revolution, in terms of the way we use the internet - imagine being able to pull a browser out of your pocket and browse the web for the cost of a local phone call. Yet we hardly discuss it here at WebmasterWorld - and I wonder why. Is everybody waiting for browser standards to be agreed? or for the connection prices to go down or connection speeds to go up?

Since I got involved in the internet, I regretted not getting involved sooner when it was far easier to dominate a market, or at least be the first kid on the block. I suppose this is what is pushing me towards the new technology - I don't want to miss out and get left behind.

While I write this I suspect that there are a number of points that I am missing. It would be great to discuss this - be grateful for any contributions.

I'm going to be doing some research over the coming weeks.

7:22 am on Mar 6, 2003 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Administrator bill is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

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FWIW I did some web sites for early i-Mode mobile phone browsers. What really turned me off was that you couldn't just make a 'one size fits all' site. It got very tedious sniffing out phones and then determining screen height and width, how many colors could each model show, etc., etc. It took all the fun out of it. All I was interested in was making sites and content.

A lot of the mobile content in Japan now has moved to Java applets and other proprietary formats depending on the carrier. The cHTML sites are still out there and accessible, but the money makers seem to be the fancier applets (games, GPS maps, weather).

However, the phones here now have resolutions equal to or better than PDAs, and they're getting more memory too. The browsers are a bit more sophisticated now than when they first came out, so I may look into re-doing some of my hobby sites.

5:08 pm on Mar 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

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the more I delve into this subject the more it appears to be a minefield. thanks for your input, bill.


9:59 am on Mar 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Microsoft's .NET actually looks at the user agent string and modifies the HTML to send down to the client based off the capabilities of the client.