Mobile Web Servers, a good thing?

I'd seen a similar project to this before (also by Nokia) but this new release makes it a lot easier for end-users. Is it a good thing though?

After reading Darla and Tommi's reviews/notices about the new Nokia Mobile Web Server, I thought I'd write my view on the whole concept of serving a website from a mobile phone, rather than talking in-depth about the application (both Darla and Tommi have done a great job in doing that).

I've been trying to think of some use cases where having a mobile web server would be useful/the best way to publish content. Having a web server on a mobile phone doesn't bother me in theory, what bothers me is whether it's being misused

  • Is it just 'interactive' content that you'd want to publish, or standard Internet content? Similar to Jaiku or IM status 'lights', which would only be useful/relevant when the person is 'online'.
  • Are you expecting a lot of traffic?
  • Are you going to host large files (eg. photos/videos)?
  • Is this just a way to communicate without using SMS/MMS?

I like the idea (and have wanted to do it before) of having your presence information retrievable from the phone (not publishing on a schedule), and think that is a valid use, providing caching is also used to stop too much traffic.

If this is also usable via ad-hoc mobile wifi (purely between phones) this might also be a way to resurrect Nokia Sensor, that I loved, and enable people in the same location to share things.

For people wanting to use it for sharing the photos/videos/blog entries on their phone, rather than uploading to Flickr/YouTube/Vox I'd suggest that this isn't a good thing to promote. If some enthusiastic (but not technical) users see this software as an opportunity to not need to upload their content, they may be in for a shock when they see their data charges and also when people can't connect to their phone because it's out of coverage.

If you're thinking of putting a 'badge' on your blog showing your current phone status, a la Jaiku, or the last photo you took, I would suggest always having it go through a proxy of some sort (a server-side script) so that you can take other actions if the mobile isn't available. This proxy script could also first communicate with a mobile-side script, using a small amount of text, to determine whether a new version of the content actually needs to be downloaded.

I think the main thing to note is that it should be used responsibly and in moderation and should not be hosting your main homepage/blog.

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About the author

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On weekdays I'm a Technical Lead at Comparethemarket.com, having previously been a Solution Architect at Nokia & Nokia Siemens Networks, creating creative software solutions for mobile operators around the world.

In my spare time I'm an avid new technology fan, and constantly strive to find innovative uses for the new gadgets I manage to get my hands on. Most recently I've been investigating Mobile Codes, RFID and Home automation (mainly Z-Wave). With a keen eye for usability I'm attempting to create some cost-effective, DIY technology solutions which would rival even high-end retail products. The software I develop is usually released as Open Source.

I have a Finnish geek partner, so have begun the difficult task of learning Finnish.


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