The World Wide Web Consortium has announced the launch of a new Mobile Web Initiative (MWI), designed to make "Web access from a mobile device as simple, easy and convenient as Web access from a desktop device."
The W3C Mobile Web Initiative has been activated to address "interoperability and usability problems that make the Web difficult to use for most mobile phone subscribers. While many of today's mobile devices already feature Web browsers and the demand for mobile devices continues to grow, browsing the Web from a mobile device has not become as convenient as expected. For example, [it may be difficult] to find product information, consult timetables, check email, transfer money; users often find that their favorite Web sites are not accessible or not as easy to use on their mobile phone as on their desktop computer. Content providers have difficulties building Web sites that work well on all types and configurations of mobile phones offering Web access."
The Mobile Web Initiative proposes to "address these issues through a concerted effort of key players in the mobile production chain, including authoring tool vendors, content providers, handset manufacturers, browser vendors and mobile operators. W3C MWI initially will focus upon developing best practices for 'mobileOK' Web sites, creating device information needed for content adaptation, and marketing and outreach activities."
Two new W3C Working Groups have been formed to support MWI. The Mobile Web Best Practices (MWBP) Working Group has been chartered to "develop a set of technical best practices and associated materials in support of development of Web sites that provide an appropriate user experience on mobile devices." Chaired by Daniel Appelquist of Vodafone, this Working Group endeavors to "enable the reach of the Web to be easily extended onto mobile devices by providing guidelines, checklists and best practice statements which are easy to comprehend and implement. These, when implemented by a Web site provider will enable the content to be perceived by users on mobile devices, particularly small-screen devices such as PDAs, smart phones and touch-screen devices."
The MWBP Working Group will define a 'mobileOK' trustmark based on existing standards and best practices. A trustmark, in this context, is "a mark or badge that indicates adherence to a set of criteria. Relevant examples of trustmarks include the Conformance Logos promoted by the W3C's Web Accessibility Initiative and the TRUSTe seal developed and promoted by TRUSTe. In both of these examples, a visible mark is used to indicate adherence to a set of best practice criteria in a particular domain."
The new MWI Device Description Working Group (DDWG) has been chartered to "enable the development of globally accessible, sustainable data and services that provide device description information applicable to content adaptation." Chaired by Rotan Hanrahan of MobileAware, the WG will seek to enhance "provision and access to device descriptions that can be used in support of Web-enabled applications that provide an appropriate user experience on mobile devices." A mobile device is meant to refer to a "Web-enabled device that is normally used away from fixed locations and has been manufactured specifically to be portable and usable while being moved. Typical mobile devices include Web-enabled cell-phones (mobile phones) and Web-enabled pocket-sized Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs)."
The Device Description Working Group will "work with the OMA's UAProf sub working group to development requirements for a repository of device descriptions; it will develop requirements for extensions to technologies where gaps exist, for example in the area of highly dynamic device characteristics... Data services and applications which provide browser-based user interfaces are generally built and tested for one or two browsers and assume a form factor of a PC with a pointing device (such a a mouse) and keyboard and a screen of certain dimensions. Mobile devices with embedded browsers have a multiplicity of input and output capabilities, screen sizes and other usability factors. In order to dynamically adapt across a range of devices, content authors and run-time systems need access to consistent vocabularies, schemas and device descriptions built on top of these."
W3C's Mobile Web Initiative is being funded through a sponsorship program. Initial MWI sponsors include France Telecom, HP, Vodafone, MobileAware, Segala M Test, and Volantis.
Formation of the Mobile Web Initiative follows a successful "Mobile Web Initiative" Workshop held by W3C in Barcelona in 2004. Some sixty-four (64) participants attending the two-day Workshop discussed select position papers on the topics of mobile device requirements, strategic issues, and technology issues. From the collected use cases and technology gaps identified, preliminary scope and definition was given to the new W3C technical activity.
[On May 11, 2005], at the WWW2005 Conference, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) announced the launch of the Mobile Web Initiative (MWI) — an endeavor to make Web access from a mobile device as simple, easy, and convenient as Web access from a desktop device.
"Mobile access to the Web has been a second class experience for far too long," explained Tim Berners-Lee, W3C Director. "MWI recognizes the mobile device as a first class participant, and will produce materials to help developers make the mobile Web experience worthwhile."
Potential of Mobile Devices on the Web Not Yet Realized
Many of today's mobile devices already feature Web browsers and the demand for mobile devices continues to grow. Despite these trends, browsing the Web from a mobile device — for example, to find product information, consult timetables, check email, transfer money — has not become as convenient as expected. Users often find that their favorite Web sites are not accessible or not as easy to use on their mobile phone as on their desktop computer. Content providers have difficulties building Web sites that work well on all types and configurations of mobile phones offering Web access.
W3C has launched the Mobile Web Initiative to make browsing the Web from mobile devices a reality.
W3C Takes Action to Accelerate and Improve Mobile Web Experience
Mobile Web Initiative participants will initially focus on two areas: best practices and mobile device descriptions. The Mobile Web Best Practices Working Group is chartered to develop authoring guidelines, checklists and best practices to help content providers to develop Web content that works well on mobile devices. The Device Description Working Group is chartered to address the development of improved device description solutions, that is, a database of descriptions that can be used by content authors to adapt their content to a particular device.
W3C is already active in the mobile Web space, developing Web standards for multimodal interaction and device-independent design, as well as profiles for mobile devices; related standards include XHTML, SVG Mobile Profiles, and the SMIL Basic Profile. MWI work will complement these current efforts.
Sponsors, Participants Include Industry Leaders in Mobile and Web Technologies
W3C Members France Telecom, HP, MobileAware, Segala M Test, Vodafone, and Volantis have stepped forward as Founding Sponsors of the Mobile Web Initiative. MWI Founding Sponsors enjoy unique benefits, including a seat on the MWI Steering Committee, the group that will set the direction of the MWI and propose new work. All W3C Members are eligible to become MWI Founding Sponsors until 1-July-2005.
Efforts to Be Coordinated with Relevant Organizations
The MWI is chartered to establish cooperative ties with related groups, including the Open Mobile Alliance (OMA) and 3GPP. These ties will help ensure that the needs of users are well-defined and that the efforts of the MWI and these related groups are complementary.
Testimonials for W3C's Mobile Web Initiative (MWI)
These testimonials from MWI Founding Sponsors are in support of W3C Launch of the Mobile Web Initiative, HP, MobileAware, Vodafone, and Volantis:
HP has been a strong supporter of the W3C for the past decade. We are firmly committed to the goal of building robust platforms based on open standards and are pleased to be a founding supporter of this Mobile Web Initiative. We believe the MWI will accelerate the development of rich media content services and will be a catalyst for the next generation of engaging communications experiences. MWI will cause the creation and adoption of a merged set of technologies for today's fixed and mobile content systems and delivery platforms. This is an essential step in the evolution of the World Wide Web. We expect to see a rapid innovation cycle based on MWI contributions to the convergence of fixed and mobile domains.
— Evan Smouse, Director of Strategic Technology, Hewlett-Packard
MobileAware, as a sponsor of the Mobile Web Initiative and leading innovator in mobile business solutions, welcomes the launch of this Initiative by the W3C. This reflects an important moment in the evolution of the Web. It brings together the key mobile players in a forum where expertise and experience can be shared; ultimately leading to a Web that spans the globe for everyone on any Web-enabled device. MobileAware is proud to be invited to be part of this significant initiative and commends the W3C for its vision.
— Kevin McCloskey, Chief Executive Officer, MobileAware
Vodafone welcomes this initiative from the W3C to bring the benefits of the Web to mobile phone customers. Vodafone is pleased to be a founding sponsor and are committed to the success of platforms based on open standards. We hope the outputs of the Mobile Web Initiative will help enable our 150 million customers access a diversity of valuable services.
— Reinhard Kreft, Director Industry Relations, Vodafone
As a leading supplier of Intelligent Content Adaptation solutions to the mobile industry, Volantis is delighted to see the launch of the W3C Mobile Web Initiative. The initiative recognizes the rapidly increasing importance of access to the web from mobile devices. Volantis looks forward to participating in the new initiative, an activity which complements its existing, closely-related work within the Device Independence Working Group.
— Mark Watson, Chief Technology Officer, Volantis Systems Ltd.
- Mobile Web Initiative (MWI)
- Announcement 2005-05-11: "W3C Launches "Mobile Web Initiative". Industry Leaders Join Effort to Improve Mobile Web User Experience." [source]
- W3C Mobile Web Initiative
- Mobile Web Initiative Web Best Practice Working Group Charter (MWBP)
- Mobile Web Best Practices Working Group (MWBP WG)
- Mobile Web Initiative Device Description Working Group Charter (DDWG)
- Device Description Working Group (DDWG)
- MWI Mailing Lists. The Mobile Web Initiative has two public mailing lists:
- firstname.lastname@example.org. An archived mailing list dedicated to discussion associated with the Best Practice Working Group. To subscribe, send an email message to email@example.com with the word subscribe in the email subject header. Post to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- email@example.com. An archived mailing list dedicated to discussion associated with the Device Description Working Group. To subscribe, send an email message to firstname.lastname@example.org with the word subscribe in the email subject header. Post to email@example.com.
- Mobile Web Initiative Sponsorship Program
- Testimonials for W3C's Mobile Web Initiative (MWI)
- W3C news item
- W3C "Mobile Web Initiative" Workshop, Barcelona, 2004:
- About W3C Workshops:
- W3C Process Document: Workshops and Symposia
- W3C Workshops. "The W3C Team organizes workshops and symposia to promote early involvement in the development of W3C Activities from Members and the public. The goal of a workshop is usually either to convene experts and other interested parties for an exchange of ideas about a technology or policy, or to address the pressing concerns of W3C Members."
- Device Independence and Mobile Web:
- Earlier news on mobile devices:
- "W3C Mobile Web Initiative (MWI) Workshop Addresses Web Access from Mobile Devices." News story 2004-11-19.
- "W3C Brings Leaders Together in "Mobile Web Initiative" Workshop. Participants to Explore Current and Potential Applications, Identify Next Actions."
- "W3C and Open Mobile Alliance (OMA) Cooperate on Mobile Web Specifications." News story 2004-07-30.
- "W3C Working Draft on Mobile SVG Profiles Defines Features for Cellphones." News story 2004-07-02.
- "CC/PP Structure and Vocabularies 1.0 Specification for Mobile Devices." News story 2004-01-15.
- "W3C Public Working Draft on Authoring Techniques for Device Independence." News story 2003-11-07.
- "W3C Device Independence Working Group Publishes Specs for a Universally Accessible Web." News story 2003-09-02.