We all have gotten so used to hearing the term Web 2.0 that we are becoming immune to what it means. To be fair, there is a common understanding that it means a new level of interactivity for users on Web 2.0 websites. This interactivity promises to go way beyond clicking on hyperlinks to include live voice and video communications, user-generated content, and messaging.
Social networking sites have incorporated some of these capabilities but in most cases have stopped short of integrating live voice and video communications. E-commerce Web sites that support instant messaging and live voice communications are a bit further advanced in this regard because they want to insure their customers the highest level of customer service to drive their revenues. This businesses driver justifies making richer communications readily accessible.
These highly interactive Web sites usually are accessed through PCs connected to wired, high-speed broadband networks. So will these advanced Web 2.0 capabilities ever reach users on their mobile handsets? Without a doubt.
The evolution of cellular mobile networks toward ever increasing data throughput and transition to end-to-end IP communications will in fact guarantee this will happen. Combine this with the latest in smartphones incorporating operating system environments and development tools that rival the PC, along with high-resolution displays and high-performance CPUs, and the stage is set for Web 2.0 to go mobile.
There already is evidence of this with a rush to enable rudimentary mobile access for popular high volume, interactive Web 2.0 social networking and e-commerce sites. These companies are bringing purpose-built applications to mobile handsets to encourage use of their sites. The interfaces in the mobile case are typically “skinnied down” as compared to access through full browsers running on PCs, but are effective in giving users access to basic functions.
But mobile Web 2.0 services will go well beyond mimicking their big brother websites. The primary reason for this is that mobile handsets are indeed mobile, and the network knows where they are. This starts to create a new breed of applications that can take advantage of knowing where you are. Location-based services will emerge that enable businesses to reach customers on their mobile handsets with deals based on how close they are to the businesses location; initiate text messages to a friend who may be nearby to meet for an unplanned lunch then connect via video to make arrangements; or simply to contact a friend automatically when you are close by.
Even with all these new interactive mobile services around the corner, many current mobile network technologies will need to be leveraged to make them a reality. This includes SS7 signaling, text messaging, audio and video media processing, and connectivity between mobile handsets and legacy circuit-switched networks and computers connected on broadband networks. All of these new interactive service use cases will require a combination of network elements to make them possible, in combination with advanced mobile handsets running Web 2.0 applications.
For mobile Web 2.0 applications running on these handsets to interact with device capabilities and network resources, they will need what are called Web services or Web APIs that adhere to RESTful APIs. This allows application developers to leverage their knowledge building Web 2.0 applications and reach into the mobile network as well to deliver rich, interactive mobile services without needing to understand how mobile networks internally function. RESTful APIs abstract handset and device capabilities for application programmers, opening up new capabilities for mobile subscribers and the services they use.
So, future Web 2.0 applications will not only rely on faster networks and more advanced mobile handsets but an abstraction of mobile network resources that makes these services possible. This next wave of mobile value-added services will go beyond the current crop of app store applications to include new levels of interactivity with multimedia-enabled mobile services.
The combination of nearly ubiquitous cellular mobile network access with advanced Web 2.0 websites that are built around interactivity and collaboration will be a game changer. These new services will help service providers monetize their significant network investments and break down the wall between transitional voice communications and data services. NGN
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