Over the past 20 years, wireless carriers (AT&T Wireless, Sprint–Nextel, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless, and others) have offered cellular-telephone voice services. Most people have made calls on a mobile phone by now. About ten years ago, wireless carriers introduced SMS (Short Message Service), or text messaging. People almost everywhere now had their mobile phones and alphanumeric pagers built into one device. Text messaging is now a hugely successful service, with billions of text messages sent monthly. If you haven’t voted on American Idol with text messaging or sent a quick note to a friend, ask any kids in your vicinity — they can fill you in on the power of text messaging.
For the next trick up their mobile-phone sleeves, manufacturers such as Motorola, LG, Nokia, RIM, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, and many others were quite busy in their little workshops around the world, trying to figure some thing out: how to make people’s lives even easier. After combining a mobile phone with a pager, what could they possibly dream up next? Someone then thought about making Internet-like services work on mobile phones. They realized that mobile phones could become even more like tiny computers: They had screens, keyboards, and tiny little software applications running them — and they were all connected to a network. Ta-da! Like magic, a new cyberspace was created: Now, people all over the world have Internet access to Web sites from mobile phones anytime, anywhere.
More than 200 million people in the United States, and almost 3 billion people worldwide, are now using mobile Internet services on their mobile phones every day — in every way. Services have advanced from only making calls to family and business associates to text-messaging quick notes to friends; voting on American Idol; reading sports scores from ESPN; sending jokes (yes, we said it) and bank balances to mobile phones; checking e-mail on BlackBerrys and answering Yahoo! instant messaging chats; and surfing a made-for-mobile World Wide Web for the latest ringtones from Avril Lavigne, pictures of The Simpsons, games from Atari, uploads to Flickr, stock quotes from E*Trade, and news from CBS News — all on the mobile Internet.
Holy smokes, Batman (yes, you can get Batman on your mobile phone now, thanks to Apple iPhone) — the mobile Internet is truly catching up faster than anyone thought possible. Finally, the Internet and the World Wide Web have hit the wireless world.