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Summary:

Mippin (formerly Refresh Mobile), whose browser-based site presents content specially designed for mobile consumption, says it has named a new CEO and reached a milestone of 500,000 users. But I question its ability to survive. The London-based startup’s service also learns what users like and recommends […]

Mippin (formerly Refresh Mobile), whose browser-based site presents content specially designed for mobile consumption, says it has named a new CEO and reached a milestone of 500,000 users. But I question its ability to survive.

The London-based startup’s service also learns what users like and recommends stories based on their previous interests. I call it a mobile portal analogous to Yahoo, MSN, Netvibes or PageFlakes, but Judy Gibbons, the new CEO, has a different definition. She says it’s a mobile media services company, in that it optimizes PC content for consumption on a mobile device. “We believe there is only one Internet – there is not a separate mobile one,” Gibbons told me via email. “But mobile presents different challenges and opportunities and there is real user value to having all this content in one place in the same consistent format with a great fast user experience.”

Whatever you call it, Mippin needs to gain wide adoption in a crowded area to support its advertising-based revenue model. The market includes efforts by Yahoo, Microsoft and Google, and according to ad network AdMob — which does business with Mippin — the number of mobile portals is steadily rising (see graph). Obviously the mobile world cannot support 500 varying portals. Even in the PC web world, portals have problems.

Despite impressive growth from its October 2007 launch, averaging 110 page views per user and advertising click-through rates of 3 percent and 15 percent for contextual ads, (way better than the .5 percent rates on other mobile sites), I’m not sure Mippin will deliver the audience advertisers need given the amount of competition fighting for consumers’ eyes. It’s a nice service, but unfortunately that doesn’t always win out.

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  1. Mippin brings back the Pepsi Challenge by reading Engadget Wednesday, July 9, 2008

    [...] told GigaOM blogger Stacey Higginbotham that she believes there’s only one Internet, and no [...]

  2. Josh Chandler Wednesday, July 9, 2008

    My question is what benefit does that company that has technically harnessed a Digg/Google Reader/Web Browser idea and put it into software which doesn’t appeal to the general consumer using a mobile device. This whole idea of web portals as mentioned in the article simply won’t hold out, people have their sources of information and this collection of data doesn’t really benefit the end user in any way.

  3. @Josh – that’s a thoughtful perspective. We do think that there are a number of early beginners out there that have little idea how much is available to them already. We try to help them find things that they might like. Nonetheless, for those, like you, who already know what they like and know it is available, we try to help you organise it, recommend sites based on other users interactions, and with Mippin Today provide a customised news update on demand of the most frequent feeds. This might be of interest to you and I take on board that we should do better at trying to explain it.

  4. HipLogic Brings Virtualization to the Mobile Phone – GigaOM Wednesday, October 22, 2008

    [...] its cell phone virtualization platform. The company’s product demo looks like several other mobile phone personalization efforts, but is actually a virtual machine running on top of the existing mobile operating system. The end [...]

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