Mowser Mowed Down: Mobile Internet Service Closes

Dennis Faas's picture

The man who hoped to mastermind the transfer of the World Wide Web onto mobile telephones has abandoned his project and revealed that 80% of traffic on his system was pornography.

Russell Beattie, who launched 'Mowser' (as in mobile-browser) last year, says he now realises there simply isn't any serious demand for a 'mobile-specific web' outside of the Far East.

The idea of Mowser was to provide versions of ordinary web pages specifically designed for cell phone displays. Users could simply type in the address of the site they wanted to see and Mowser would automatically 'translate' it into a format more suitable for small screens.

The project got off to a poor start when bloggers accused him of taking the content from websites but replacing the advertising; in effect, making cash from other people's work. This turned out to be a misunderstanding: Mowser was actually placing new adverts at the top of a directory of newsfeeds.

The system also faced several competitors, most notably Greenlight Wireless' Skweezer service. They faced similar problems with advertising; the original edition of Skweezer removed all javascript, a type of code used for interactive features on websites which didn't work well with early mobile phones. Unfortunately, this meant many adverts on web sites didn't appear; great news for cynical consumers but not good for the website producers. (Source:

Beattie's argument isn't that people don't want to access websites on mobile devices, instead he believes those people who want that facility prefer using devices that give them complete access to websites in their original format, such as the iPhone. He says there's very little interest in web pages designed specifically for cell phones, including original page or one 'translated' by a third party. (Source:

That's open to debate: people who have slow cell phone connections or face hefty charges for data usage may still prefer slimmed down pages that cut out unnecessary content. But it likely won't be that long till everyone who wants full Internet access in their pocket has it and the rapid journey to that point is likely to see several gambles failing to pay off.

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