I was reading this article about DeNA, a Japanese mobile gaming start-up that plans to target the US as its next market. One comment that the journalist made was that "Americans, partly for cost reasons, typically use personal computers, rather than cellphones, to play online games and surf the Web". This, along with the fact that I was on the bus sitting behind a university student typing away on her laptop, prompted me to think to myself what my own usage was like.
Now, I have a Nokia E65, which when I bought it in mid-2007 was billed as a "business phone" because it had Wi-Fi and an office suite for working with documents. I have never, ever, not once used the office suite. Not for want of trying, mind. When I buy something, I try to squeeze every last cent of value from it. (Yes, I'm cheap.) But all I remember is exploring the office suite once long ago, never figuring out why it was important to me and then ignoring it completely thereafter. Also, I do not own a TV. Yes, I do not own a TV and haven't watched TV in ages, unless you count turning on hotel room TVs to watch the beeb.
But this is all (mostly) an aside. What I was coming to was my opinion about why people's usage of data on cellphones hasn't picked up as much as we've all been expecting it to for so many years.
Is it speed? No, I don't think so. Phones are sufficiently fast today to permit convenient, casual surfing at least.
Is it price? Yes, perhaps, to an extent. I know I don't do much more than read a couple of news articles on the way to work, but I do have the option of using Wi-Fi on my phone when I'm at home. Which is what I've been doing a lot of especially since I don't have TV. In that situation, even though my access is free, I've found myself not perusing the web as much as I'd like. Why?
Form factor: even though the E65 is a 3G phone and therefore, in theory at least, meant for data, using it for more than a few minutes at a time is just plain painful. I don't just mean eye strain; my arm actually begins to tire holding the phone up in position constantly. Even the buttons are getting to be a pain as my fingers gently begin to cramp as I scroll down page after page.
And then there's the sheer lack of mobile-ready sites. Put yourself in the average enterprise user's shoes: he's not going to www.
And all this isn't even beginning to talk about those of us who need reading glasses.