Friday, April 06, 2007

The Mobile Web Becomes Right Sized

Inn at Craig Farm's phone site - Image Credit: Patrick Conlon

The Mobile Web Becomes Right Sized

As the mobility age becomes more of age, it was only a matter of time that the visual side, the display side of the web, started to deliver content for the small format screens like the ones found in ones pocket.

The cellphone world is beginning to catch on to the fact that pushing buttons to communicate (texting) is tedious at best, so now it is rapidly becoming automated with camera imagers and codes … but where does that take one?

Generally, to a website that is tailored to a computer screen. Scrolling and adjusting the format just sends one back to pushing buttons and tapping screens. Visually, the process is still a nightmare at best. Text is okay but graphics are all over the map.

The match-up between the site and the screen is just around the corner.

Company efforts are dedicating themselves to mobile sized web development for mobile phone users. At MAXINE, with nearly 75% of cellphones in the field having web access capability, we say it’s about time that the mobile web becomes right sized.

This from The Wall Street Journal Online –

Mini Web Sites Target Users of Mobile Phones
New Kits Give Firms A Cellular Presence; Boon for Concertgoers?
By AMOL SHARMA - April 5, 2007 - WSJOnline

Johannes Tromp says the Web site for his South Carolina bed-and-breakfast generates good business. But last fall, he found a way to reach even more potential customers: He made a version of the site for cellphones.

Mr. Tromp signed up for a mobile Web address with the newly available suffix "dot-mobi" and used a self-starter kit from a company called Roundpoint Ltd. to build www.kilburnie.mobi, the mobile site for his Inn at Craig Farm. He says he's gotten a surprisingly good response, with 30 to 40 new calls per month from interested travelers who heard of his inn by accessing the cellphone site.

"For people to find me, I have to make myself available any way I can," says Mr. Tromp, a Dutch native who was general manager of the Windows on the World restaurant in the World Trade Center before moving south for a career in hospitality.

As technology allows consumers to access the Internet with their cellphones, many big companies have launched mobile versions of their Web sites, including big media brands like MTV and ESPN and news sites like USA Today and The Weather Channel. But such projects can be costly and complex and until recently have been out of reach of small businesses.

Now new low-cost tools and services are making it easier to jump onto the mobile Web. Internet registrars such as GoDaddy.com Inc. and Network Solutions, who have helped millions of small businesses set up traditional dot-com sites, are now also beginning to roll out all-inclusive packages that help companies register and build mobile Web sites. And mobile-content specialists like the United Kingdom's Bango Ltd. have their own mobile kits that help companies get a basic Web presence on cellphones.

One way to promote a musician - Image Credit: Fli Digital

The wireless Internet is just beginning to take shape. Most consumers aren't nearly as comfortable with mobile Web surfing as they are with trolling the Web on PCs. Entering URLs can be difficult on many cellphones, and there's a limited amount of content that is well-formatted for a small screen. Cellphone networks are getting faster but still lag behind landlines significantly in broadband speeds.
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Many small companies are planning to build mobile Web sites. Thousands are using dot-mobi domain names, which are administered by mTLD Ltd., whose backers include cellphone companies such as Nokia Corp. and Vodafone Group PLC as well as Internet service providers like those of Google Inc. and Microsoft Corp. The company, which gets a cut of registration fees, hopes that dot-mobi will become the de facto domain for mobile sites, much like dot-com is for the regular Internet.

Dublin-based mTLD says a separate mobile-specific domain is the only way to assure users that the site they will visit will be designed appropriately for a phone, with minimal graphics and verbiage and a format fit for a tiny screen. It has issued guidelines on how to develop appropriate mobile sites, and plans to charge content developers $250 to $300 to certify that they can build sites within dot-mobi standards.
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Dot-mobi isn't the only alternative. Sites that end in dot-com or dot-net can also be designed so they show mobile-specific content when consumers access them through a mobile device. In fact, that is how most major media brands and other companies have built cellphone sites to date.

Internet registrars, who have made a living on small businesses and already offer a variety of tools to help them build basic Web sites, are taking advantage of the new opportunity in mobile.

For example, Harry Boadwee used GoDaddy to set up www.travelosa.mobi, a mobile Web site that provides information for travelers such as flight cancellations, weather and car-rental information. Registering the domain for a year cost him $12 . GoDaddy also provided Mr. Boadwee with site-development tools offered through a partnership with mTLD. Mr. Boadwee developed the site himself using those tools.

Network Solutions, which hosts the Web sites of 3.5 million small businesses, plans to begin selling dot-mobi addresses soon, along with a suite of tools with templates to build simple mobile Web sites. The company already has a tool that lets businesses automatically convert their existing Web sites into mobile versions -- stripping out unneeded verbiage and graphics -- but company executives say they encourage companies to build a mobile site from scratch.

In March, Bango rolled out Bango2Go, which offers small businesses hosting and mobile Web development as well as software that lets companies track who is visiting their site and bill customers for purchases. Bango's introductory package is $1,000, plus ongoing maintenance fees that will usually be a few hundred dollars. For bigger companies who want a more elaborate site with more content, the Bango fee is about $5,000.

Bango has already helped huge brands like News Corp. and World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. build their mobile Web portals, but its new product is aimed at smaller players such as Basin Street Records, a small independent music label in New Orleans.

The label's founder, Mark Samuels, is using Bango and Web-site designer Fli Digital Inc. of Hauppauge, N.Y., to develop cellphone Web sites for the nine artists he works with, beginning with jazz trumpeter Kermit Ruffins, whose new mobile Web page is ruffins.wap.com. Mr. Samuels says mobile sites will give concertgoers the ability to download ringtones or album art or even sign up for newsletters. All a fan needs is access to the mobile Web.
Reference Here>>

(ht: Symblogogy)

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