Russell Beattie Throws In The Towel On Mowser; And Doesn't Believe In The Mobile Web Anymore
Tuesday, April 15, 2008; 1:00 PM
In April 2007, a mere year ago, Russell Beattie started Mowser, a mobile browser that would render Web sites correctly for the mobile phone. Today, he's publicly calling it quits, writing a lengthy message on his blog explaining how he hasn't been able to raise funding and the growth on the site has been flat or falling for the past couple months (and 80 percent of it was for porn anyway). The former Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) Mobile evangelist takes it a step further and says others should quit, too. "Beyond the fact that I'm irretrievably in debt, the general answer is that I don't actually believe in the 'Mobile Web' anymore, and therefore am less inclined to spend time and effort in a market I think is limited at best, and dying at worst. I'm talking specifically about sites that are geared 100% towards mobile phones and have little to no PC web presence. Two years ago I was convinced that the mobile web would continue to evolve in the West to mimic what was happening in countries like Japan and Korea, but it hasn't happened, and now I'm sure it isn't going to."
He goes on to spell out his argument, using statistics that others would say are signs that there is in fact a mobile Web developing. The iPhone isn't catalyst for change, instead he writes that "all it did is point out that there never was one to begin with." Some figures provided by M:Metrics verify his beliefs?the research firm found in the U.S. that 85 percent of iPhone owners browsed the web vs. 58 percent of smartphone users, and only 13 percent of the overall mobile market. "Let me say that again clearly, the mobile traffic just isn't there. It's not there now, and it won't be." But I think that's the extreme. He doesn't actually believe that people aren't interested in getting information while on the go, but that they want an identical experience to the Web, not a re-formated abbreviated one. That's different than saying the mobile Internet is dead. It means full browsers could succeed. "Mowser was always meant to be a short term bet against Moore's law, filling a specific near-term need and building a base of traffic to later expand to other cloud and proxy services. Well, the traffic never arrived naturally to allow the site to grow without funding," he wrote.
Still, we are still far off from the billions of phones in the market getting full Web browsers, so it would be hard to say that no one in the meantime will be interested in a partial Web. Marshall Kirkpatrick on ReadWriteWeb has a hard time believing it, too, and personally likes mobile friendly Web pages, and reads them often, he says. What do you think? Is the mobile Internet dead?
Wow - one guy decides that startup life isn't for him and this is supposed to throw a whole shadow over the industry.....hmmm I don’t think so.
I like Russell, I've been a long time reader of his blog and an occasional user of his Mowser application.
I think the key point here is that...."Mowser was filling a temporary problem", with the release of the iPhone and the imminent massive model variants of the Android OS on the Horizon and the sure but steady improvements in the Windows Mobile 6 OS I think Russell is throwing in the towel as handsets are getting "good enough to no longer need Mowser".
Now do I think he threw it in too early with only 12 months operation - sure but thats because I'm a serial startup entrepreneur with 2 listed companies under my belt.
As an employee of www.Amethon.com one of the worlds first mobile browser specific analytics applications just for mobile content, I for one, am seeing huge growth in mobile content.
Amethon's clients are seeing traffic build month on month, and yes I think a lot of that has to do with better quality handsets and better quality browsers and most importantly higher data speeds with somewhat more reasonable flat rate unlimited data plans.
With a better user experience more people are finding the convenience of accessing content on the move .....or standing still but getting it right where they are standing with a mobile device never far from their hand ....
The best part about this mobile content is the volume of advertising coming into the space is funding a better user experience, and with tools like Amethon Mobile Analytics users analytics information and a solid roi can be demonstrated against this advertising spend.
Am I sad to see Mowser go, yes - Will Russell bounce, for sure - one of the smartest pioneers in the mobile business, Do I think USA consumers are a little behind eastern consumer patterns in mobile content consumption - YES but that has more to do with carriers and handsets than personal desires and usage patterns.
The mobile space is just taking off, with all the fallouts and successes that there was in the desktop browser wars in the 1990's.
Watch this space and get in early......your customers are waiting.