Chapter 9: Web 2.0 and Mobility

Cisco Press

Mobile devices with web access extend the ubiquity of the Internet, offering anywhere, anytime access to information. This makes it possible to share information with colleagues and friends through photo and video media, as well as by voice. Consumers can quickly capture photos and videos with cameras embedded in their mobile devices and share them with relatives and friend via email or post them to MySpace or YouTube.

The power of this new, faster, richer, Mobile Web connectedness is evident from the impact the Mobile Web has brought to bear during recent disasters. During these events, Mobile Web users kept the world informed through user-generated content: breaking news and actual first-hand photos and videos from the scene. Web 2.0 and mobility and the connectedness they enable offer each enterprise the opportunity to transform and accelerate business processes and achieve employee productivity gains as well.

Access the web over a wireless network via a mobile device such as a handheld computer, personal digital assistant (PDA), or browser-enabled smartphone, and you’re on the Mobile Web.[1] It’s important because if analysts’ predictions are correct, the Mobile Web will experience phenomenal growth and forever change the way the world does business. So this chapter

  • Briefly describes the evolution of Mobile Web technology
  • Examines the generations of mobile phone services
  • Touches on a number of mobile devices—the very first as well as the very latest—and key features such as voice recognition and position location
  • Identifies some of the platforms used for developing Mobile Web applications
  • Provides examples of the types of Mobile Web applications and services available today
  • Describes how mobile devices are used in social networking
  • Identifies Cisco’s efforts to create Mobile Web applications
  • Discusses some of the mobile information services being used by Cisco Sales
  • Identifies the impact these applications are having on these business users

More importantly, the chapter provides insight into the business value of the Mobile Web.

Mobility provides an opportunity for enterprises to transform and accelerate business processes and increase employee productivity, particularly in a Web 2.0 world. Many enterprises such as Cisco have built out their mobile infrastructure and deployed mobile devices to their employees, particularly in sales and support. As enterprises develop new or modify existing applications, both internally and externally facing, they are doing so with web access—particularly Mobile Web access—in mind to take full advantage of Mobile Web technology.

Mobility, for example, provides immediate access to information and data enriched with context such as geoposition. Equipment location can be plotted on a map on a company website, a “webmap.” With a web-enabled mobile device, a service technician can be notified immediately of an equipment failure, find the location on the webmap, find, connect, and share photos and videos of malfunctioning equipment with colleagues for a collaborative diagnosis, or research potential, innovative, user-generated content: problems and solutions shared on the web.

With access to the appropriate enterprise applications and websites, the technician can quickly and easily connect to order a part or loaner equipment, update the trouble ticket, and notify a customer that the problem is being solved. That’s the power of the Mobile Web. As Mobile Web technology evolves, organizations need to understand and foster its application to fully realize the business transformation, process acceleration, and employee and customer connectedness it enables.

Evolution of Mobile Web Technology

This section provides a brief overview of the evolution of Mobile Web technology, outlining the generations of mobile technology. The section goes on to explore several types of mobile devices, the first and the very latest. Included is a discussion of some key features available on mobile devices today: voice recognition and position location. This will serve as a foundation for your exploration of Mobile Web applications and websites available today.

Generations of Mobile Phone Technology

AT&T introduced Mobile Telephone Service (MTS) in the United States in 1946. Weighing 76 lbs., the first mobile phone worked like a walkie-talkie, with one person speaking at a time and a push-to-talk button on the handset controlling the direction of the call.[2] Communications researchers came up with the idea of dividing large mobile telephone service areas into smaller “cells,” enabling service providers to reuse radio frequencies within each cell and thereby increase the number of calls that could be handled by each cell.

In 1947, after AT&T first proposed the idea, the Federal Communication Commission limited the number of radio frequencies for mobile telephones. This continued until 1968, when AT&T proposed, and the FCC approved, a cellular system of small, low-powered cell towers. Each “cell” covered a smaller area and calls passed from tower to tower as the phone moved past them.[3]

Mobile phone (also known as wireless telephone) technology is usually divided into generations. The first mobile phone service, described previously, began after World War II. Commonly referred to as 0G, it preceded cellular phone service, offered only a few channels, and required an operator’s help to place a call. The first generation of wireless cellular communication technology, called Analog Mobile Phone Service (AMPS) is known as 1G. Introduced in 1981, it enabled users to place calls without an operator and used analog radio signals to pass calls between cells.[4]

Second-generation technology (2G) introduced digital cellular in 1991, enabling data services, including the ability to send and receive pictures and video.[5] Digital also enabled access to webpages written in Wireless Markup Language (WML) via a browser, based on Wireless Application Protocol (WAP).[6] Currently, the most popular standard for digital services, Global System for Mobile Communication (GSM), got its start in Europe, where it was originally called Groupe Spécial Mobile. GSM introduced an alternative to voice calls: short alphanumeric text messaging via a protocol called Short Message Service (SMS).[7]

Subsequent generations offer even more data services. Enhanced Data Rates for GSM Evolution (EDGE), for example, is a mobile phone technology deployed in North America and often referred to as 2.75G. It enables faster data transmission on top of GSM.[8] Third-generation technology (3G), introduced in 2001, offers wide-area wireless voice and video telephony, as well as broadband wireless data access, and is faster than EDGE. 3G networks should not be confused with short-range wireless data networks, which are based on the IEEE 802.11 standard and commonly known as Wi-Fi or wireless local area network (WLAN).[9] Newer mobile devices can often connect to the web via one or more of these networks for data access.

Many newer devices can connect to other devices, such as headsets, via Bluetooth, a wireless protocol that enables data exchange over short distance.[10] In addition, satellite phones can connect to orbiting satellites and are often used in remote areas without access to terrestrial networks and cell towers.[11] Finally, 4G, or fourth generation, is expected to provide faster, higher-quality services, including Internet Protocol (IP)-based voice, data, and multimedia. This will require complete replacement of existing networks and, as Table 9-1 indicates, will probably occur around 2012-15.[12]

Table 9-1  Generations of Mobile Technology

Generation

Key Features

Date Available

0G

Pre-cellular service

Required operator to place calls

1947

1G

Analog cellular service

No operator required to place calls

1981

2G

Digital cellular service

Text messaging via SMS

Pictures

Video

Web access

1991

3G

Digital cellular service supporting voice and video telephony

Broadband wireless data

High-speed Internet access

2001s

4G

Digital cellular, Internet Protocol (IP)–based voice and data

Streamed multimedia

2012-15

Now take a brief look at various types of mobile devices designed to take advantage of these services.

Mobile Devices

Mobile devices have changed significantly since April 1973, when Dr. Martin Cooper placed the first public call on a 30-ounce portable, brick-shaped cellular phone, shown in Figure 9-1.[13]

Figure 9-1

Martin Cooper uses first portable cellular phone.[13]

In the beginning, cell phones were used primarily to make calls, and personal digital assistants (PDA) were developed as handheld devices to store memos, addresses, and phone numbers. In 1983 Casio introduced the first PDA, the PF-3000, shown in Figure 9-2.

Figure 9-2

Casio PF-3000, the first personal digital assistant (PDA).[14]

Subsequent PDAs, like the Pilot 5000 introduced by Palm in 1998, provided a touch-sensitive screen and the capability to synchronize calendar and contacts with the user’s personal computer.[15] As cell phone designers added features found on PDAs, the smartphone was born.[16] Figure 9-3 shows Simon, the first smartphone, a touch-sensitive device developed by IBM and sold in 1994.[17] Nokia introduced one of the world’s best-selling smartphones, the 9000 Communicator shown in Figure 9-4, in 1996.[18]

Figure 9-3

Simon, the first smartphone, developed by IBM.[17]

Figure 9-4

Nokia 9000 Communicator.[19]

Today, many mobile devices have a number of features, including an operating system, enabling them to run applications like small computers. Most are pocket-sized, have a miniature QWERTY keyboard to facilitate text messaging, and use a color display screen. Many devices, as noted previously, can connect to the web for data access via one or more of the cellular or wireless networks.

Some devices use voice recognition technology, location-based services, and device synchronization to increase ease of use.[20] Cameras are a popular feature for capturing photos and videos on the go and sending them to family and friends or uploading them to the web. At the start of 2008, Nokia held 40% of the world’s mobile phone market, shipping more devices in the last quarter of 2007 than the next three largest vendors, Samsung, Motorola, and Sony Ericsson, combined.[21] Figure 9-5 shows the Nokia E90 Communicator, one of the most popular Nokia devices in 2007.[22]

Figure 9-5

Nokia E90 Communicator.[23]

Figure 9-6 displays the BlackBerry Storm, the newest device from Research in Motion (RIM), released in November 2008.[24] The BlackBerry has been a popular business device and the Storm offers features sure to please business users, including the ability to open and edit Microsoft Word documents and Excel spreadsheets and view PowerPoint presentations.[25] But RIM hopes the Storm will be popular with consumers as well, thanks to its touchscreen and multimedia capabilities.[26] The Storm offers a clickable touchscreen and virtual mouse pointer that enable the user to point, cut, and copy screen text, two features not found on Apple’s popular iPhone.[27]

Figure 9-6

BlackBerry Storm.[28]

Apple’s iPhone was first introduced at the Macworld Expo in January 2007. It was billed as three devices combined in one: an iPod with a widescreen, a radically new mobile phone, and a groundbreaking web communications device. The iPhone not only changed the way people used their mobile phones, but also the mobile phone industry itself. Apple introduced iPhone 2.0 software in March 2008, enabling users to connect to corporate servers and to download third-party applications available for purchase at its App Store.

As the first widescreen iPod with video capabilities, the iPhone’s bright widescreen display enables the user to view multimedia, such as photos, music videos, TV, and movies. The Multi-Touch screen enables flipping through photos and music collection album covers with the flick of a finger, and a user can easily purchase and download new music from Apple’s iTunes Wi-Fi Store. The iPhone’s Safari browser supports variants of Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) found on the desktop web, so specialized Mobile Web pages are not required.

The iPhone’s built-in accelerometer senses whether or not the device is held vertically or horizontally and rotates the image to fill the screen. The user is able to zoom images in and out by moving thumb and index finger closer together or farther apart to pinch or stretch them. Running on the EDGE network, the iPhone offers conference calling and SMS, but more importantly it provides a web browser enabling the user to display and navigate complete web pages.[29] In July 2008, Apple released the iPhone 3G, pictured in Figure 9-7, offering faster data speeds via the 3G network and built-in Global Positioning System (GPS).[30]

Figure 9-7

Apple iPhone 3G.[31]

For quick reference, some key features of the iPhone, Nokia E90 Communicator, and BlackBerry Storm are listed in Table 9-2.

Table 9-2  Key Features of Newest Mobile Devices Providing Web Access

Device

Key Features

Nokia E90 Communicator

High-speed mobile broadband

Conference calling

Image and video cameras

Music and media players

Large color displays[32]Ė

BlackBerry Storm

Mobile streaming

Conference calling

Multimedia

Camera and video recording

Touch screen navigation[33]æ

Apple iPhone

Wireless 3G

Desktop-class web browser

iPod music and video player

Camera and video recording

Wide, touchscreen display[34]

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