Joe Clark's post Opera: Still hard to defend! may not actually have anything to do with Opera, but it sure does illustrate the sad state of mobile browsing.

Handhelds, mobiles and other small-screen devices are still steaming piles of manure when it comes to viewing web content. The handheld media type is ignored in nearly all of the software laughably being called 'browsers' on handhelds, suggesting an industry-wide disregard for standards... even including the ones that would massively benefit the industry.

It's hardly surprising that mobile phone browsers suck, of course. Mobile phone manufacturers realised years ago that consumers don't care if it's easy to use, so long as it's prettier and smaller than the next guy's phone. Why improve the software when they can just jam in a shitty pinhole camera and sell another million units?

Handhelds are a pain since every single one seems to have a different operating system (or version), each with an entirely different interface. Of the four different handhelds we tested at work, only one was capable of running Opera - the boss's Sony Ericsson P900. That's the only one anyone really wants to play with during meetings.

Frankly, creating handheld stylesheets is a waste of time. There is absolutely no consistency between any of them and unless a client specifically asks for it, they won't get anywhere near a requirements list.

It's not that I don't think handhelds could be great. Quite the contrary - I'd love a fully net-ready wireless device in my pocket. But currently they're unreliable, unusable and incredibly overpriced.