Go Luca fight it!! Vodafone is hiding the user-agent to third-party content provider by hijacking the HTTP traffic coming from devices on their network to change the user-agent from the actual device (Nokia6288/2.0 (05.92) Profile/MIDP-2.0 Configuration/CLDC-1.1) to some generic web browser (Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux i686; en-US; rv:184.108.40.206) Gecko/20060909 Firefox/220.127.116.11 MG (Novarra-Vision/6.1)).
They say it is for a better user experience, the truth is that it becomes impossible to know what kind of mobile is visiting the webpage, impossible to get its capabilities, it gets impossible for third-party content provider to work.
Why do they do that ? well whatever they say there is no other reason than trying to keep their “world” close. They want to manage everything on their network so that they can make the end user pays for all services they provide (including basic information). Thing is that with xhtml-mp and the devices getting more powerful it is much more easier to develop interesting mobile web application. Vodafone’s sucky PartnerML language becomes useless and in the same time it opens the mobile web to already existing “normal” web application (granted some work on the ui).
In a somewhat related story I-mode from NTTDocomo is going down, I-mode also has its own markup language and its own framework.
Techcrunch UK: Vodafone in mobile web storm
Andrea Trasatti: Is it good to hide the user-agent in mobile?
David Harper: Vodafone UK is Clearly Wrong – The User-Agent String Issue
Wap review: Vodafone’s Heavy-Handed Transcoder