THE World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the body that leads the development of technical standards for the web, usually concerns itself with nerdy matters such as extensible mark-up languages and cascading style sheets. So the new interest group it launched in May is rather unusual. It will focus on the use of the mobile web for social development—the sort of vague concept that techie types tend to avoid, because it is more than simply a technical matter of codes and protocols. Why is the W3C interested in it?
The simple answer is that the number of mobile phones that can access the internet is growing at a phenomenal rate, especially in the developing world. In China, for example, over 73m people, or 29% of all internet users in the country, use mobile phones to get online. And the number of people doing so grew by 45% in the six months to June—far higher than the rate of access growth using laptops, according to the China Internet Network Information Centre.