Mobile Internet adoption is still rather slow. According to Forrester Research, only 21 percent of U.S. adult mobile phone owners use the mobile Internet, and only 7 percent do so at least once a week. One of the main reasons for this is that browsing the Internet through a mobile phone is kind of like eating soup with a fork – that is, using the wrong instrument to get the job done.
To provide an adequate mobile Internet browsing experience, it’s not enough to shrink the web page into a size that fits on a mobile phone screen. A web site designed for the mobile Internet should consider the different keyboard, the lack of a mouse-like pointing device and the different context; if it can wait until a user gets home, it probably will. So, how do we make the mobile Internet work well on different handsets with different screen sizes and different operating systems?
One solution is offered by Israeli startup Moblica. Founded in December 2007 with a seed investment of $700,000 from angels, Moblica aims to bridge the gap between the richness of Internet services and the limitations of mobile devices to offer an iPhone-like experience on Java-enabled mobiles. Moblica takes relevant web sites and redesigns them to give customers a better mobile user experience.
After downloading the Moblica application, users are presented with an iPhone-like desktop that contains different mini applications, such as weather forecasts, RSS feeds, Picasa pictures and more. Navigating is easily done using the keys, and pages load very quickly. Currently only Picasa and RSS are available, but Moblica says many more are set to launch by the end of the September, along with a consumer web site. Moblica says it can work with content providers to develop a mini-application version of their site in one to two weeks. The downside is that the Moblica solution currently only works on Java-enabled phones. Still, seeing these efforts to improve the mobile web experience leaves me eager to throw away my fork.
Moblica’s competitors include WidSets by Nokia, which also provides a downloadable application that contains different mini applications. While WidSets currently offers many more sites, after seeing both applications in action, I can say that I definitely had a better user experience with Moblica. An additional competitor is Volantis, which provides automatic content adaptation services for mobile operators.