Indigestion from “Half Baked” Mobile Web Browsing

Blackberry Pearl - Convergence of Network and Information
Blackberry Pearl – Convergence of Network and Information

Yesterday, Chris Sacca (ex Googler extraordinaire, investor in the likes of Twitter and recent Tech Leadership Conference Keynote speaker) shot a provocative salvo across the bow of the Twittosphere. Many times Twitter is a true belwether, capturing the pulse of market dynamics. And, although saying this might not go down well in Waterloo, it struck a chord with me. Here’s Chris’s shot of wisdom:

Chris Sacca“Surfing the web on a Blackberry is like trying to prepare dinner for four with an Easy-Bake” Oven.
In the mobile universe, aren’t we forever doomed to suffer a hopelessly limited and painful browsing experience? And, why is mobile browsing that important anyway?
Whizzy gizmos like the accelerometer aside, the key breakthrough of last year’s Apple iPhone launch was to deliver mobile browsing that is every bit as rich as the equivalent desktop experience. The entire universe of websites accessible to the desktop user simply works in the iPhone browser. This is equally true on 2G EDGE networks, and doesn’t depend on the forthcoming release the iPhone 2 with its higher speed 3G HSDPA capabilities.
In short, Apple has moved the bar a quantum leap higher for the entire mobile market. Constrast that with the Blackberry (Pearl or Curve) which so frustrates Chris Sacca. Many sites that work on my notebook give errors, render poorly on the Blackberry screen or use features which simply aren’t supported. On top of that, the browsing and rendering is unbelievably s-l-o-w. Nokia on the Symbian S60 phones, like the N95, is way ahead of Blackberry, but still needs to retool to catch Apple’s strong lead.
But, most of all, this is so important because mobile browsing is becoming the only application mechanism that matters for mobile. The myriad hassles of operator locking and closed platforms has effectively rendered the market for downloaded mobile applications stillborn. 2008 is the year in which it has become crystal clear to all of us in the mobile space, that the application platform of choice is, in fact, the browser.
The test of Blackberry’s ability to reassert some market leadership will be the new Blackberry Bold which is expected later in 2008. Most people in the know are keenly awaiting to see if it’s browsing experience can rise the the iPhone challenge, or will it merely close some of the gap with Nokia which is itself still an also ran? For me, this may well be the most important strategic market inflection point for Blackberrry over the next year or so. Thus, it would be great if someone in the RIM-plex would care to comment?