When Crisp Wireless first started with powering mobile sites using its proprietary content management technology, I got a fair amount of surprised reactions from technologists and programmers who knew me. We weren’t only known back then to power the content for downloadables (J2ME mainly), we also found WAP significantly flawed. Back then one would have expected mobile site software to scrape HTML from the web, and reformat it to WML, cHTML and XHTML automatically or via customizable templates. Considering our experience with mobile and our unusual positions on mobile technology, it should be no surprise we took a different technical road. Luckily … because as far as I'm concerned the transcoding approach doesn't hold much value in today’s even further fragmented mobile browser landscape. The famous Russell Beattie knows what he's talking about when he considers it difficult to derive revenue by stripping down web sites for the mobile users. To create more compelling and well distributed sites, what is needed, is a Content Management System that is designed to ingest, manage and create XML content feeds of all shapes and formats. (Creating feeds is important for efficient on-deck distribution and integration with aggregated content sites) What's also needed is a product that with the help of solid mobile device intelligence can render mobile sites in all shapes and formats. It does not suffice to create mobile compatible sites; you need the ability to create a different optimized site for every type of device. These sites should have a different data flow, graphic design and information architecture depending on how and when it is used. In other words, the mobile web is not just making PC web content into mobile compatible content. The mobile web is a more complicated and soon more sophisticated version of the world wide web that beats to a different rhythm. With a further evolution of mobile devices it might very well prove to be far more popular. This trend is evident looking at many recently launched mobile sites. I’ve listed them below. The idea behind many good mobile sites is not a commercial transaction, but the method of content discovery - asking the question "what's the best way to find movie reviews?" or with Fandango - "are there tickets available at this theater for Iron Man?" These sites are focusing on how to make mobile media and information management better, which requires that content is organized and accessible in new ways. Some sites go pretty far in experimenting with this mobile behavior. For Twitter there is no shortage of mobile sites trying to perfect the way to manage status updates. When you are on a small screen you have different modes of behavior and you look at different times of day and have different goals: such as you need something right away or you want to check something before you go to bed or you are just trying to waste time. The point is, the mode and motivation of the interaction is different from when you are sitting at your desk. Great new research shows these new modes of behavior where consumers interact with mobile websites are not cannibalistic to desktop web traffic; they actually improve overall web performance by 13%. You'll notice that many of the sites below are specifically designed to help iPhone users. The mLogic technology is perfectly suited for innovative iPhone sites . Our technology is also great for distributing content to 3rd party applications in modular formats on carrier decks, in applications like Yahoo OnePlace and for powering new content interfaces like Flashcast or other device side applications . Our platform offers content management that is centrally managed to serve content to all other downloadable applications, browser plug-ins or mobile widgets. As promised, some interesting mobile sites:
The other day I got involved in a conversation with some members of the mobile software engineering experts at Crisp Wireless. They were reacting to my blog post about iPhone and Android. The sentiment of the developers was that the open source community is supporting Android and developers in general prefer the more open nature when writing software. Furthermore, the iPhone SDK is limiting compared to Android and a lot of interesting application ideas require capabilities not currently included as part of the iPhone SDK and UELA. For instance, letting the application run in the background is something the developer may need.
Since Android is less limiting, then that’s better? Both to the benefit of the end-user, the mobile operator, the manufacturer and the developer, there are arguments against that. Respectively: Do we want to run concurrent applications on our phone to drain the battery as quickly as possible? Do we want an application to mess with the network when you’re in the middle of a call? Do we want to allow applications that compete with the manufacturers built-in applications? Do we want an insanely complex certification path before the applications are deemed safe enough to allow distribution?
Android is supported by the open source community, so developers must like it a lot? Well, there is no single open source community. Developers are collaborating on other mobile software projects besides Android and I would be surprised if they are willing to drop whatever has been achieved and focus instead on something that Google just kind of threw over the wall. Gnome mobile and GPE Phone Edition comes to mind. Limo Foundation is another. The point being that those new mobile platforms are great for innovation but you can’t pick just one out, build your app for it and think you’re done. Porting to many platforms is expensive and it is in the best interest of Google to realize that being a good citizen of the open source community is helping with avoiding fragmented efforts.
Some of the developers that currently have the iPhone SDK in their hands and are able to have a compelling application written by this summer can likely avoid any porting and make a good enough of a return through iTunes alone. That’s not to say they shouldn’t port their app on Android or any of the other platforms, but at the end of the day, will they still like Android better?Crisp Wireless is interested in hiring talented mobile developers to work at their offices in New York. Please send your resume to email@example.com
I recently had a chance to download Apple’s new iPhone SDK that enables developers to write downloadable applications that will run on the Apple iPhone 2.0 starting in June or July. I’ve read the feedback from developers, journalists, and bloggers and there are a fair amount of people slamming Apple because of how they are looking to control the distribution and how you supposedly need to pay for getting full access to all development materials.
Well, I don’t find that to be the case. Development for iPhone appears to be free until you want to load the application on a real phone. (This is not unlike other mobile development in BREW or Java ME.) Instead, what I found is a smartly managed development program for a market leading distribution system (iTunes). Everyone that thinks Apple is getting it wrong by controlling application sales must not have learned the history of mobile application distribution including the platform fragmentation, network security problems and the mobile operator’s difficulty in enabling discovery and sales for downloadable applications. Apple will make sure there is little fragmentation, make it easy to sell outside of carriers, and build a reputation on number of apps available and the safety of downloading.It is possible the opposite will happen with Android, where the multiple manufacturers with approved Android distributions could be fragmenting capabilities and the more open nature of the platform could turn out to be a security risk. Besides, who is going to apply a GUI on Android that the consumer prefers over the iPhone interface? I’m sure someone’s still working on that.
With the iPhone starting to be sold worldwide in an unlocked version and the completion of their application distribution model, there will be a tipping point this summer where analysts might consider Android too late to outdo Apple. The potential iPhone sales are extremely high, due in small part to the unexpected effort Apple put in making the device more enterprise friendly. The touch screen can still be a limitation for the email user but the factor of MS Exchange integration and running custom secure touch screen enterprise apps on the iPhone and iPod Touch via WiFi does make the platform a viable alternative to Windows Mobile.
This means that more and more publishers will begin wanting iPhone specific sites to address this expanding market and capitalize on the user interface. We’ve already seen this happening with our existing customer base and you will begin to see more news from Crisp about this shortly.