With the World Wide Web now firmly entrenched as a part of normal modern life, it is only natural that users want to access web content wherever they may be, at any time. Responding to this demand, vendors now offer an incredible array of devices and access methods to meet that need. Although the types of devices number in the hundreds, the overall market can be examined as a few key product categories.
Most of today's mobile devices—mobile phones and personal digital assistants (PDAs)—have digital displays, typically an LCD, and onboard processing. So why not a built-in browser?
The browser software resides in the cell phone's core operating system and the end user cannot easily upgrade or extend it. And, as we discuss in more detail shortly, it has far fewer features than are normally associated with a typical desktop browser. Other features are available only to the persistent user willing to endure horrifically bad user interfaces to reach them.
The cell phone provider gives you access to the Internet by any one of several different technologies, and some restrict the available content, or make it difficult to access content outside of their proprietary web portal.
PDAs arguably provide the best mobile web experience. The PDA marketplace is dominated by devices running the Palm OS operating system from PalmSource, Inc. (originally Palm Computing, Inc.) and those running the Windows Mobile operating system from Microsoft. Regardless of vendor, ...