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Friday, August 05, 2005

mobile content - so close, yet so far

It''s been a while since I sat down to write, so the references here are probably about a week or two old.

The technophiles (I wonder if that is a word - if it's not, then we need this one: 'techno' - technology and 'phile' - lover) keep writing about the inadequacy of available mobile content, which we all agree with. Recent posts by Russel Beattie and Carlo reiterate the same point. And while I'm still talking about references, don't miss these insightful posts on the same by Sunil (click here and here).

The one thing to do about it is to change the medium. What we call optimized content today is merely a copy-paste job from the PC with a few bells and whistles added to it. So, while it might be optimized for the small screen we have on the phones, or maybe in some cases for a smaller memory and bandwidth, it is not really optimized for the overall experience.

The question then, to really ask is: What is the overall mobile experience?

Any ideas anyone? Please leave comments.

Instead of undertaking the daunting task of writing about the mobile experience, I'm going to lay out how it's different from a PC. That may help to put some things in perspective.

  • Unlike on a PC, I don't like to type in URLs on a mobile device. However, still something here can be learned from PCs - auto completion of already keyed in URLs. Is that so hard to do?
  • Unlike on a PC, I don't have a mouse on my cell phone. So, I don't like to click on too many hyperlinks on a mobile device. That is what I mean a copy-paste job from a PC.
  • Unlike on a PC, I'm not stationary with my mobile phone and definitely not at home or in my office. So, I don't really have time to fish for information - when I look for something on my phone, I know what I want. The thing is , can you provide me with that? I don't want to fish around for it.
  • Unlike my PC, when I access RSS feeds using an aggregator, going to the actual blog to read the whole thing is not an option I want on my phone. I don't want to swap between screens or have to read the same first paragraph over again. I want the whole feed as text on my phone.
  • Unlike my PC, my location matters when I'm mobile - can someone please use this information to provide me with better information. I know I can get weather and restaurants and locate hot spots and sixth sense can provide profiles in the vicinity - but how about linking my to-do things with my location and sending me a reminder (now wouldn't that be cool) or some other information about something in the vicinity that I would be interested in?
  • Unlike my PC, I can use my mobile to instantly initiate voice communication with someone...make me use it!

To sum up basically - the mobile and the PC might have many overlaps - but they're used in different environments and also provide different experiences. The way content is delivered right now is like fitting Danny DeVito into Arnold Schwarznegger's suit using some pins and needles.


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