Though there are some who'll disagree, I'm not addicted to my Blackberry. Yes, I've checked my e-mail while driving, and no, I'm not proud of it. But unless I'm waiting for something, I'm not "that guy" who checks his e-mail every 10 seconds.
That said, I've learned to embrace the mobile Web. It's far, far from perfect, but when dining alone, it certainly beats staring at the ceiling. It's also the perfect tool for settling bar bets, keeping tabs on my favorite teams and checking the weather on the fly.
Most sites haven't figured it out yet (check out jsonline's weak mobile version, for example). But a couple have, and I'm guessing as more and more people embrace iPhones, Blackberries and cell phones that can handle HTML and WAP, this is only gonna get better.
Here are the top 10 mobile Web sites I visit and why. The links might not work if you try to access them from a regular broswer:
- Google.com/m: Plain and simple, Google gets mobile. Not only have they optimized their site for phones and PDAs, they've set the gold standard with mapping software that triangulates your position without GPS. That means directions and yellow pages work great. They also offer customization and mobile gMail. Yahoo's effort is a distant, distant second.
- wap.Brewers.com: While MLB's standard sites have their share of problems (autoplaying video that doesn't work on the Mac very well, generic sites that don't reflect a team's personality, etc.), their mobile sites are quite good. That means the Brewers news section is easy to read, and mobile Gameday works well when you're not in front of a TV or radio.
- Wikipedia.org: Actually, wikipedia doesn't do mobile, but their site is so simple, that beyond the homepage, their result pages are phone-friendly. It's easier to Google "Fonzie wiki" from your phone to land on the results page.
- mobile.CNN.com: This news site is optimized for phones with small screens, and there's an awful lot of clicking "next page" when you're using a device that can handle more than a few lines of data. Still, it's a go-to source for news.
- mobile.Weather.com: Simple, easy to use, and it remembers your location. All you need for forecasts.
- mobile.OnMilwaukee.com: I'd be remiss if I didn't include our own mobile site, which contains most of the features of our full site (articles, business listings, search). I realize I'm tooting my own horn, but try it out at mobile.onmilwaukee.com and let me know if you think it's missing anything.
- mobile.Engadget.com: Simple and fast, it's just headlines and dates for this tech-geek site. If I were building it, I'd add teasers, too.
- MSNBC.com: Slightly more streamlined than CNN's mobile site, it doesn't appear as well-written or frequently updated as its competitor. But it's still good.
- mobile.TUAW.com: The little sister of Engadget, but for Mac users. See No. 7.
- Imdb.com: Also missing a mobile version, best I can tell, but like Wikipedia, if you can get past the homepage, you can usually find what you need. Perfect for settling bar bets.
Andy is the president, publisher and founder of OnMilwaukee. He returned to Milwaukee in 1996 after living on the East Coast for nine years, where he wrote for The Dallas Morning News Washington Bureau and worked in the White House Office of Communications. He was also Associate Editor of The GW Hatchet, his college newspaper at The George Washington University.
Before launching OnMilwaukee.com in 1998 at age 23, he worked in public relations for two Milwaukee firms, most of the time daydreaming about starting his own publication.
Hobbies include running when he finds the time, fixing the rust on his '75 MGB, mowing the lawn at his cottage in the Northwoods, and making an annual pilgrimage to Phoenix for Brewers Spring Training.