Operating Systems

Yahoo! Go 3.0 Now Available for Windows Mobile

Here's the list of supported phones for Yahoo Go 3.0, which now includes some Windows Mobile phones. Go 3.0 is a dramatic improvement over 2.0 and I've been waiting to use it on my HTC Windows Mobile phone.

More on 2D Barcodes and 'Mobile Response'

Dan Miller and I met with Atlas (now a division of Microsoft) to get a look at the company's new "engagement ROI" model and related tools and tracking. It was very interesting and will be the subject of another post at some point somewhere . . .

But one of the several digressions we pursued was the issue of mobile handsets being used to track and extend traditional media. This is one of my favorite topics these days. And iMedia today has piece providing an overview of the area. It's primarily about 2D barcode technology.

However, SMS provides comparable functionality without the necessary downloads and/or "infrastructure." We would expect that eventually most traditional media (TV, print, outdoor, newspapers) will feature some direct response component using mobile devices -- call it "mobile response."

iPhone Making the World Safe for Android?

We and everyone else have written fairly exhaustively about the iPhone and its impact on the competitive dynamics of the market. However, on the cusp of MacWorld, three articles appeared today that cover Google, the iPhone or both.

Miguel Helft at the NY Times discusses how Google saw a surge of traffic on Christmas (presumably after a bunch of activations) and how the iPhone drives mobile traffic to Google at levels second only to Symbian phones. As Helft points out that's somewhat remarkable, given the iPhone's recency and tiny market share compared with Symbian.

The topical "hook" for the article is a suite of Google services optimized for the iPhone (Gmail, Calendar, Reader, iGoogle, etc.). A new version of this suite (dubbed "Grand Prix") will apparently be released today. Elinor Mills at CNet writes similarly about the new release of these mobile apps and suggests that Google Gears (the ability to work on applications when not connected to the Internet) is coming to the iPhone at some point in the near term.

And USAToday covers a small company in San Ramon, CA, A La Mobile, which has reportedly developed a suite of apps for the Android platform. The article goes on to confirm (via Google's Andy Rubin) that an Android phone will be out by Q2. (Dan wrote about an Android prototype sighting at CES.)

Even though Android was in the works before the launch of the iPhone there's a way in which they're "connected at the hip" or Android is the direct beneficiary of the iPhone in a certain way. There might not have been as much carrier and OEM interest in Android had their not been an iPhone to show the benefits of a better mobile user experience. Indeed, as the NY Times article makes clear, a better user experience results in more usage and traffic and, ultimately, monetization -- this is pretty much our mantra at LocalMobileSearch.

Google is seeking to take that learning and expand it beyond a single, proprietary device to the entire industry and hopes that the OHA and Android will be the vehicle to do so. The disruption and fear that the iPhone has caused arguably has driven many to embrace Google's initiative, which might not have otherwise.

iGoogle Optimized for iPhone

Google Operating System points out that an iPhone optimized version of iGoogle has shown up. Here's the URL where you can basically see what iGoogle looks like on the iPhone (sort of).

Yahoo!'s new mobile homepage is supposed to similarly link to a user's MyYahoo! feeds/preferences and help bridge the gap between the desktop and mobile. But, so far, it hasn't shown up yet.

AOL mobile has a similar personalization capability that also leverages the desktop.

Going the other way, Nokia started the Ovi site, recognizing the strategic importance of this desktop-mobile connection and the advantages of allowing users to manage mobile content on the desktop.

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I was speaking with someone at Shopping.com, on an unrelated topic, who attended CES. He said that, in his opinion, none of the mobile handsets at the show were remotely as good as the iPhone. In particular he held and used the LG Voyager (an "iPhone ripoff") and said that it didn't measure up.

And here are some interesting screenshots of designer mockups of a hypothetical Starbucks ordering application on the iPhone.

An Early Android Sighting at CES

An article by Forbes.com's Evelyn M. Rusli provides first-hand experience with one of the first wireless handsets that will ship running a flavor of Android. A Taiwan-based ODM called Wistron NeWeb had a prototype device, called the GW4, with a touchscreen and a full-QWERTY keyboard. It also touted easy access to a number of applications, including Web search.

Rusli was decidedly underwhelmed. She observed that, while the device made it easier to carry out routine interactions, the GW4 lacks the multi-touch controls that make the iPhone so easy to use. She also seemed disappointed to learn that the phone would not be offered "free". Her assumption is that it will carry a $200 retail price which, of course, could be subsidized by a wireless network operator.

She finishes by calling the device "a nice phone," but adding dismissively that "nice doesn't clobber competition." So it is clear that, in spite of the fact that Android will be a platform for developers to introduce a myriad of new applications and ways of doing things with a wireless device, prospective buyers are being primed to accept nothing less than an iPhone killer. From the point of view of encouraging local mobile search, that's missing the point. We should be gratified that an initiative like the Open Handset Alliance is encouraging development activity up and down the solution stack so that an ODM can pack the GPS, Web search and high-speed data links that will make local search and e-commerce applications easy-to-invoke and intuitive to use.

It shouldn't be about clobbering the competition. We'd settle for a better user experience.