Monday, October 09, 2006

A website in my pocket

Thanks, The Yearling for covering my antics with mobsites first.

A few months back, Nokia Research Center achieved something that was a near-dream-come-true experience for enthusiasts like me. They actually managed to port the apache web server to Symbian Series 60!! Not only did they not stop here, but they packaged it with a "connector" of their own making which makes it possible to host a website (a mobsite) on a cellphone like the Nokia 6630. This is what they call Raccoon.

The possibilities they suggest are numerous:
  • You could simply browse a friend's mobsite & click a link to ask him - no, let's be politically correct - ask "her" to take a photo of her surroundings. Supposing that she is open to the idea of you prying into her whereabouts, you could actually get a picture of her at the city market, say. Not cool for privacy freaks, but then your friend can deny the request anyway.
  • You could simply browse the friend's mobsite & click on another link to get her location. Now this is a bit more dangerous, this doesn't ask for confirmation from your sensitive friend. Turn it the other way round, a great tool for parents to track their teenagers.
  • You could send the friend a message directly in her SMS inbox via the mobsite, which looks & feels just like an SMS. Gives her the SMS alert, too.
  • You could send the friend a message on her phone screen directly.
  • You could browse your friend's phone for phone numbers, messages among other things from the comfort of your web browser window.
With the advent of better phones & faster connectivity (and based on what we already have here), here are some future applications that come to mind:
  • Streaming: You could let people stream songs & videos on your phone from your mobsite. Digital Rights will play a part here, but there's no harm in assuming that you are a good, law-abiding citizen of the world, is there?
  • Locating: You could host a mobsite which gives a continuous update on the traffic situation/parking lots in the area you're in. Somebody who wishes to reach you, just opens your website & plans her route accordingly.
  • Tracking: If you own a courier business, your express delivery personnel could be equipped with small mobsites of their own, which could work as package tracking websites for the customers. Although I'm not sure if anyone would be that eager to track a package.
    • The customers could also get photos of where the delivery guy is right now. A picture is better than a thousand words.
  • Advertising: You could have a mobsite that has a blog, or a personal page, that will have advertisements from businesses near you, wherever you are. The more popular your mobsite, the more you get paid for the advertisement space. This may not be content based; any business in your vicinity could put an ad on your mobsite. Ads will change as you move around.
Of course, we're some way from bringing some of these applications into reality. The clear challenges are network bandwidths & processing power. But Raccoon is most certainly a great start of an entirely new aspect of the web.

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