The idea of mobile MMORPGs has come up before. Blizzard is on board with the idea of a mobile WoW interface of some sort, and have even hired mobile engineers and designers. Second Life has started down the path too. Still, for all the promise of being able to run Deadmines while you're stuck in the back of a car on a cross country drive, or churning out Netherweave Bags while you're waiting at the clinic for your semi-annual medical checkup, it seems like there's hurdles yet to overcome. The biggest one, of course, is getting a mobile device to pack enough power to render WoW's graphics and keep track of all the information that WoW needs to run.
Luckily, it looks like Intel and Comverse are on the case for us. The two companies have worked together to create a 3D streaming system that compiles and renders all the graphics and data of an MMORPG on a central server, then sends it to the mobile device. You can read their researcher's post about it on the Intel blog site. You can also see the process demonstrated with Second Life in the video above, although there's not really a good shot of the mobile device screen to show us how well it actually works, unfortunately.
Still, if they can get the technology working feasibly, it should definitely put us one giant step closer to a relatively full fledged mobile WoW client. When the day comes that we can grind dailies on our iPhones, it may be that we'll have Intel to thank.
[Thanks to Bitterzoet for the tip!]