This more than anything else, probably, will push the shift from desktop browsing to mobile browsing. The more restrictions workers face on their office computers from blinkered employers, the more natural it will be to turn to their mobile:
A nationwide study by T-Mobile UK has revealed that over a quarter of the UK’s workforce, still deprived of web access, are now turning to the Internet on their mobile – as employers enforce blanket bans on net usage.
A few points worth making here:
It’s an umbilical thing: offices misunderstand the use of the Web, which is probably why they ban it. It’s no longer just about surfing for information, shopping or football scores (although it’s still that). It’s about staying connected. The Internet is no longer just a resource of information (and, cough, images) but of “checking in” with one’s network, whether it’s on FaceBook, MySpace, Twitter, Skype, or wherever. Offices need to cope with this somehow, or they’ll lose the attention of their workers.
A different screen, a different app: the shift to the mobile web because of this negative pressure from the work place will create huge demand for mobile web apps that work quickly and efficiently. Indeed, it’s not the only pressure: Browsing is a quite different experience on the mobile phone. Browsers are already developing ways to reshape information to fit on a screen, but a smarter way would be to find new ways to deliver the information via the mobile phone (Widsets have made a start in this direction.)
Toilets: the unsung productivity hive Techdirt rightly points to the part of the survey which shows that 15% of users “resorted to hiding in the toilet just to get online.” Working from home, I do this with my laptop, frankly. But it’s not really about resorting to anything: it’s what the mobile world is. We used to read the newspaper on the john; why not a mobile phone?
History will find it weird, not that we connect to the Web on the john with a device once designed to make phone calls, but that for 15 years we had to do that via a big hunk of metal, plastic and wires sitting in the middle of what used to be a big open space called a desk.