Mobile Web Influencer interviews – Interview with Dan Appelquist @torgo

This interview was a part of the The Mobile Web influencers list but I am posting the interviews separately  as well

Interview with Dan Appelquist @torgo

1) What do you think is the biggest reason you are optimistic about the mobile web?

I’m optimistic about the mobile Web because it’s going away. What I mean by that is The mobile Web is now ubiquitous and it’s mass market. If you take into account emerging form factors such as tablets, then it’s fast becoming true that the Mobile Web is just becoming the Web.

2) Which web technologies are you optimistic about?

I am bullish on device APIs these days. I’m very excited about the w3c geolocation API that we had a hand in. Geolocation in the browser was first released on the mobile and (predictably) has had a huge impact on mobile Web applications, particularly social applications. The geolocation API success story now needs to be replicated for other APIs – accelerometer, camera, calendar, etc… This work is going on in W3C right now and hopefully will bear fruit soon. It’s all about making the Web a richer platform for developing applications and creating great user experiences.

3) Who, in your view, is a thought leader for the mobile web?

I think the Mobile Web has a number of great thought leaders and I’ve suggested many of them for your list. The nature of the Web is that it is multi-polar and so you cannot really point to one person who has led the way in the Mobile Web space. I do think @jamespearce deserves some special respect for being a participant in and follower of standards (particularly the W3C work on Mobile Web Best Practices) and putting that into action through real-world coding projects that have made a huge impact on the experience of the mobile Web (such as the WordPress Mobile Pack).

4) What does the mobile web lack and how is that gap being bridged?

Tools. Tools. Tools. We need more high-quality tools for Web developers and designers that fit the mobile platform and allow developers to use progressive enhancement and “mobile first” design techniques more easily.

5) Which areas/domains will the mobile web extend to in the near future?

Device APIs is the big growth area right now. We’ve already seen how the (w3C) geolocation API has transformed the use of location on the Web with social applications like Twitter and Facebook being the most aggressive adopters. Emerging device APIs will allow access to the camera, device data (such as address book contacts but also things like roaming status), and other sensors such as accelerometer. This will open up new opportunities for Web developers to create more immersive experiences that leverage the rich capabilities of mobile devices.

6) What is the biggest gap/concern for developers(wrt mobile web)

Discoverability and monetization of mobile Web applications is a big concern. Right now developers rightly perceive that putting their applications into app stores, promoting them and selling them through these app stores is their best route to customers and revenue. Advertising platforms for mobile Web apps are not mature enough yet. The mobile Web does not have the equivalent of an App store. These issues need to be addressed if the mobile Web platform is going to thrive. Part of the problem is inconsistency in how these Web apps are presented to consumers. Web developers need to be consistent about applying the “thematic consistency” principle that we developed in the Mobile Web Best Practices group. This principle is as relevant today as it was five years ago when we developed it. Web sites should adapt the presentation of content appropriately to the device.

You can find those mobile Web best practices at
http://www.w3.org/TR/mobile-bp/ along with the more recently developed
“Mobile Web Application Best Practices” (useful for targeting more advanced
mobile browsers): http://www.w3.org/2010/09/MWABP/