The iPhone’s Mobile Web “Experience” Sucks
“Even the iPhone’s browser can disappoint. It has a version of the Apple Safari browser that doesn’t support Flash, a programming language widely used on Web sites, so users are limited in what they can see on the Web. And, you pay a lot to experience the pain of surfing the mobile Web. Lewis Ward, an analyst at the International Data Corporation, compares the mobile Web today to AOL before it went with flat-rate pricing in the early 1990s. Most people surf on a pay-per-kilobyte model, which encourages them to surf as fast as they can, he says.”
An article out from the New York Times entitled “Mobile Web: So Close Yet So Far” talks about how disappointing the mobile web experience has largely been for consumers thus far.
While I can only speak as one U.S. consumer using one U.S. web based phone (the iPhone), I will chalk up the internet browsing experience on my iPhone after several months now as an abject failure.
As much as I love the iPhone, and it is the best mobile phone I’ve ever used, the web browsing on it leaves so much to be desired. AT&T;’s sucky “Edge” network is not worth using at all. Unless you are really in a pinch and absolutely must get something from the web it simply is not worth using.
When I got my iPhone I thought that browsing the web was one of the big things that I’d be doing with it. I do not do this at all.
A case in point. I whip out my iPhone as I’m heading up the escalator at the West Oakland BART station and try to go to a web page. There is no train at the landing yet. The iPhone fires up like it’s going to load but then it just moves so slow. Maybe a minute later the train arrives. I hop in. My page still has not loaded. The train pulls forward. It’s probably a good half mile and maybe another minute and a half before the train pulls into the tunnel that goes under the Bay (where I lose all internet access). Still no web page loads. Now I’m under the Bay after about 3 minutes or so of waiting and I’ve given up. After about 5 days in a row of this performance I simply stop trying to use my iPhone on the way to work. This is disappointing because I would like to have read an article on the iPhone on my way to work during the 8 minutes or so I’m under the Bay in the BART tunnel.
While it is true that you can use wi-fi with the iPhone this is kind of stupid. Why? Because in general it’s too much work to screw around trying to find unsecure wifi spots to use. In the few places (like home) where you *know* you have wifi, you don’t need to be on your iPhone when your MacBook Pro is a much more suitable way to browse the web.
Yes, there is the occasional occurrence when you are standing in North Beach and want to call the sushi restaurant to inquire about dinner and you’re willing to wait the 3 minutes plus to get the phone number on your iPhone. But as for general web surfability? I’d rather surf my first ever AOL dial up connection than AT&T;’s “Edge” network. And it’s a big disappointment to me that the iPhone disappoints so much in terms of internet useage as this is something that I was actually very much looking forward to doing with it when I shelled out the $700 to buy it in the first place.
And before you say $700 – $100 (generous rebate gift certificate sort of thing back) = $600 not $700 — not in my case. Apple’s “generous” $100 rebate code didn’t work for me in the store when I tried to use it and I’ve yet to get around to trying to figure out who to deal with on that one.