AOL joins Google to adapt pages for mobiles

AOL is about to start competing with Google and others in the mobile space. This includes adapting pages for mobile viewing with an automatic re-rendering service.

"AOL Wireless Director of Emerging Technologies Raine Bergstrom told BetaNews […] "We’re not just re-rendering, but reorganizing as well," he explained. Bergstrom said most, if not all pages will initially be rendered using the automatic system, and would change based on necessity. [….] "One size does not fit all" ". Here’s the full article.

While I have put my thoughts on the positive sides of such technology in one of my recent blog entries, a lot of other people don’t like it at all. Looks like the front widens…

Mobile Monday Paris April – Pictures and Report


My first Mobile Monday in Paris. I was very positively surprised to see so many people there and had many good discussions. As you can see in the pictures the number of people has easily surpassed 200. Here are some details of the event as it happend.

Presentations: (here’s a link to most presentations)

The first presentation was by Vincent Veran of Axalto, one of the leading SIM card manufacturers. Their latest ideas they are working on are large memory SIM cards for preloaded content and storage of content such as eMail, a SIM card based web server for applications such as easy access to the operator portal and contact less applications embedded in the SIM. For the later, applications such as contact less payment in the metro (similar to the Felica service in Japan) come to mind.

The second presentation was given by Alex Kummerman of Clicmobile and he gave an overview of a current proof of concept application his company is trialing in Geneva at the moment which deals with finding out if some of your friends are near you while being at a certain location.

Mobile Gaming was the theme of the third presentation of Nicolas Caris of Acute about Urban Rivals. is an online game which seems to be an adaptation of a game initially launched back in 2001 in Japan (my interpretation as in 2001, iMode was only available in Japan). How I would have liked to have that in my pocket back then in school 🙂

Finally, the fourth presentation was given by Valérie Beaudouin of France Telecom about perceived and real usage of mobile and mobile services.

Discussions:  Glad to have met Stuart Mudie at the MoMo to discuss many on and of topic things. Other people I have spoken to include someone who promotes, a cool utility for dog owners how get tired of searching their dog. I really like the application, check out their web site!

Operator and supplier attendance: Thanks for hanging out the list of attendees and separating the participants in operators, suppliers, mobile media, etc. Interesting to see many people in the the operators category, lots of people from Bouygues and Orange, only few from SFR though. To my surprise only few people from suppliers at the meeting. Some from Ericsson and only one or two from Nortel and Alcatel. I find that somewhat strange.

Summary: All in all a great evening, a big thank you to the organizers and the speakers of the evening. Looking forward to the next MoMo Paris on the 5th of June.

WLAN is catching on in Paris

When I moved into a new appartment in Paris last summer there were ‘only’ two WLAN networks in the air in the range of my PC except of my own. Today, there are already six (see picture). All of them but one are protected and some even use WPA. Not too bad for a country in which three years ago Minitel was considered state of the art 🙂 The main reason for this explosive growth is probably the fact that a fast DSL connection has become affordable for most people. 20 euros per month for a 20 MBit/s ADSL 2+ connection with an unlimited data volume or 30 euros a month for a subscription that includes a phone flat rate for fixed line calls and TV (both over IP). I wished wireless Internet access via UMTS was already available at a similar price.

.Mobi is coming – That’s good and bad

So .mobi, the top level domain for mobile friendly web sites finally took the last hurdle and we should see the first sites soon. As everything in life there are good and bad sides. In this particular case I see extremely good sides but also extremely bad sides of the idea.

The good side:
There is a large community of proponents including mobile operators and device manufacturers. That ensures that it won’t take long and we will see a large number of mobilized sites which can then be advertised very easily (e.g.,,, etc.). That’s great when you see it on a poster somewhere while out in the street or in an advertisement in a magazine. It also seems like there is a code of conduct for creating web pages for the .mobi domain which can even be enforced. Good thing! BTW: I wonder how iMode proponents feel about .mobi and those rules!?

The bad side: It’s gonna separate the PC Internet from the mobile Internet. That’s bad as links in the future might even be more intended at either only PC or mobile users. Take the following case: I like reading blogs with my blog reader on my mobile device More often then not, interesting blogs contain links to other sources. I don’t think these links will direct me to .mobi sites in the future… So Google’s mobilizer for PC world sites is necessary more than ever. Maybe it can be made smarter to detect that there is a .mobi equivalent to the PC world link. But that requires the same URL structure for the .com and the .mobi presence of a site.

In the end, you can’t have them all…

Will S60 ProfiMail bring the breakthrough?

One of my most difficult mobile challenges these days is to find a mobile phone and software for my girl friend to allow her to take notes and access her eMails while commuting to and from work. "So what’s the problem?" many people like me who use a mobile phone for these and many other connected tasks may ask. Well, here they are:

  • Dimension: Of course it has to fit in a small bag
  • Spam: The eMail account to be mobilized gets lots of spam and due to ‘legacy’ reasons we can’t open a new one for mobile use. Thus the eMail program must be capable of downloading and displaying many mails quickly (like 30 a day out of which 27 are spam…)
  • Notes: A good keyboard is necessary, a communicator with a small keyboard will just not do.
  • Patience: The targeted user (girlfriend) has no patience with technology, the device just has to work…

I’ve been leaning havily towards an S60 device together with a Bluetooth foldable keyboard (e.g. the Nokia SU-W8) to solve the issue. Even if the dimensions will get some critisism I am sure the size of a, let’s say, Nokia 6680 would be acceptable. Unfortunately two things have hindered me so far to take action: There just does not seem to be any usable notes application with easy synchronization to the desktop and the ability to write more than just a few lines. Secondly, the native S60 eMail application is nice to receive an eMail or two a day but is in no way suitable for the 30 eMails a day described above. It’s just too slow and it doesn’t use the display in an efficient way.

So here’s hopefully the solution: ProfiMail. I’ve installed it this evening and used it for two hours. I am enthusiastic. It’s fast opening mails, seems to handle HTML content quite well, and can handle attachments and multiple eMail accounts. Furthermore, the program allows to efficiently create eMails and is able to store drafts;  that looks like it could fulfill the notes requirement including synch to the PC (via eMail).

For a detailed review have a look over at AllAboutSymbian. Thanks to Ewan for the review, you ‘ve brought me a big step forward!

So I am going to test this one for a little while and if it doesn’t choke on 30 eMails a day, it will be a winner for me.

Whitepaper on how WiMAX compares and competes

Daily Wireless and Om Malik have made me aware of a free white-paper by the OECD with predictions on how WiMAX might develop in the market and how it compares and competes with other technologies such as UMTS, HSDPA and CDMA 1xEV-DO.

Just having completed a chapter on WiMAX for my upcoming book, my experience is that most of the stuff to be found about WiMAX on the Internet at the moment are marketing articles with greatly exaggerated claims or simply wrong technical facts. Most authors probably never bothered to read the standards documents. This paper is refreshingly different. It is not very technical but the author must have had a fair technical background to come to his conclusions on how the technology compares and competes. Except for very few things I totally agree with the white-paper. Very well done and unbiased.

People who left comments at the original post over at Om Malik’s blog seem to think that the report draws a rather negative picture of the technology. I can’t read that out of the report. It says WiMAX has a bumpy road ahead but that’s just normal for any technology at this stage. On closer inspection the paper says that some crucial decisions have been done right when designing WiMAX to give it a better chance in the market than most other systems which aimed to do the same thing in the past (e.g. Wireless Local Loop…)


A tough PDA for tough conditions

Today I got my hands on a cool PDA for tough environmental conditions: A Toshiba Toughbook-P1 PDA (see picture)running Windows Mobile. Waterproof, ruggedized, WLAN, Bluetooth and a GSM/GPRS module inside. Couldn’t resist to configure it for GPRS and test it. Perfect, works like a charm. The design is great for harsh conditions but it is somewhat heavy (1.2 lbs…) and big (see comparison in the picture to my SE// V800). Definitely nothing you can put in your pant pockets. Full specs can be found here. Ah yes, you can use it as a phone, too. Sound quality of the hands free mode is excellent.

Wireless VoIP Demystified – Part 3: IMS

Wireless VoIP is a hot topic at the moment and the name is used for quite a number of different technologies. In this mini series on my blog I’ve already taken a look at UMA in part one and SIP in part two. This entry takes a closer look at the IMS, the IP Multimedia Subsystem.

In very generic terms, SIP as described in part two is the core of the IMS. In addition, the IMS standardizes a number of additional functionalities:

  • SIP is the abbreviation for Session Initiation Protocol. As it is just a session (e.g. voice call) initiation protocol, it does not contain any mechanisms to ensure Quality of Service or a certain bandwidth of the connection. While fixed networks usually have enough bandwidth available to ensure the quality of a call, things are  different in mobile networks. Here, bandwidth to and from a subscriber is limited. In addition, the total bandwidth of a base station that has to be shared by all users of the base station is also limited and much scarcer than in the fixed line world. To ensure that a voice or video call established with an IMS capable device is maintained with a good quality of service (e.g. jitter, latency, etc.) and that a sufficient amount of bandwidth is ensured for the call while it is established, the IMS contains mechanisms to communicate with the radio network to ensure enough bandwidth is reserved during the call.
  • IMS standardizes authentication and encryption of SIP commands and responses in the network.
  • IMS standardizes how media gateways are controlled to enable SIP clients to establish connections with legacy circuit switched fixed line and wireless clients.
  • IMS standardizes the access to the Home Subscriber Server (HSS, aka HLR) in the GSM/UMTS/CDMA network.
  • IMS standardizes what kind of information is put on the SIM card of the subscriber and in which way.
  • IMS standardizes the codecs used for different services (e.g. voice codecs, video codecs)
  • And very important: IMS standardizes a service framework and a protocol between the IMS core and application servers that allows third parties to create new services based on IMS and SIP commands. Such services are for example instant messaging, presence, voice mail, video mail, location based services, short dialing numbers, private dialing plans, music and video streaming, push to talk, etc.
  • And last but not least: IMS standardizes how to get billing information because after all, operators want to make money with it.

By standardizing all of these aspects it is ensured that an operator can buy different parts of the overall IMS solution from different vendors. In turn, the architecture also ensures that application developers can design new applications for a standard platform and can then sell their products without customization to many different network operators. Furthermore, this approach ensures that IMS systems of different operators can interoperate with each other. This is a fundamental requirement to enable calls between different national and international operators without using media gateways.

Want to know more? Here’s a good book on the topic that I can recommend as it was great fun reading it: "The 3G IP Multimedia Subsystem" by Gonzalo Camarillo and Miguel A. Garcia-Martin. It’s in it’s second edition already after only a year so I guess I am not the only one who likes it.

My 5 cents on Google Mobile’s Content Transformation

The Blogsphere has been in turmoil lately discussing Google’s approach to transform web pages to make them better suited for viewing on small screens of mobile devices. The main problem most people (content providers) see is that adds get dropped which thus has a negative impact on their business model. So here’s what I think about this from my (the consumers) point of view.

For easy reference, here’s a link to Russell Buckley’s blog entry on the topic which has attracted a lot of attention. And here’s a link to a blog entry at WAP Review on how Google Mobile works.

From the consumers point of view, probably 99% of the web content today is not mobile optimized (including this blog, shame on me, shame on Typepad) when requested from a mobile device. Most of this content can not be displayed correctly on a small device today. Recently, some mobile browsers have appeared on the market that render a complete page correctly and show you a small portion on it. I have my doubts that this makes it really usable. Also, mobile phone rendering capabilities are very limited and I simply don’t have the time to wait for the download of a full page and don’t have the deep pockets required for the amount of data transferred.

I often read blogs on my mobile phone with a great program called Resco News. Often enough an interesting blog entry is not contained completely in the RSS feed or has some interesting links to follow. In this case I am stuck on my mobile phone without Google Mobile’s help. With Google Mobile, however, I can get the complete blog entry and can also follow the link no matter if the page is mobile optimized or not (and most are not).

Sure, if the web page is already delivered in a mobile optimized format then Google should just pass it through without modifications. Thus, graphics in general and adds in particular that behave in a mobile friendly way stay in. I guess this is not so difficult for Goggle to do. They could fetch the page from the original web server pretending to be a mobile phone. In case the server returns a gigantic page with heavy graphics, java script, etc. then kind of a "self justice" has to kick in and the page needs to be stripped down to something usable on a mobile device. Sorry if some content is lost on the way but it is still much better than not to get the page on the mobile at all.

So here’s the essence of my opinion in other words: If the content provider does not adapt content for mobile viewing, then somebody else has to do it to make it usable on small devices. If on the other hand the content provider is willing to include mobile devices in his design then the page should be handed down to the small device unaltered.

P.S.: Some people argue that it is "evil" to modify content without permission. Well, then I guess most desktop web browsers with popup blockers and mobile browsers without Java script and full HTML capabilities are just as "evil" as Google Mobile as they alter the page as well.