You might have read Andy’s earlier story about Refresh Mobile scooping a Developer Of The Year award at the Nokia World conference. The company makes a product called Mobizines, which lets you get bite-sized versions of your favourite magazines and websites on your phone. I grabbed John Stoneman from the company for a chat to find out more about Mobizines.
“It’s slightly different from a WAP site because the whole content is downloaded to the phone,” he says. “You get a compete edition down to your device, which you can then browse. Because of that, it looks a lot richer than a regular WAP site, and it’s a lot quicker to read, because you can jump from page to page without having to download each one as you go.”
Refresh Mobile partly promotes the mobizines on its own site, but also relies on its content partners to promote them. As Andy mentioned in our earlier story, you can get mobizine versions of Tech Digest, as well as our stablemates Shiny Shiny, Who Ate All The Pies, Shoewawa (instructions for all of these are at the end of this story). Other mobizines include BBC News, Glamour, OK! Magazine, Time Out and Maxim, although a full list is here.
Once you’ve downloaded one mobizine to your phone, you can easily get others via its menu. John says that the line-up is getting more broader, having started with mainly techy brands.
“We recently got a distribution relationship with 3, the mobile operatoe, which has opened us up to much more of a mainstream audience,” he says. “So we’ve got things like OK and Glamour, as well as Daily Snack, which is much more about celebrity and gossip. And then there’s Holy Moly…”
You might know Holy Moly as the weekly email that’s not afraid to tear celebrities a new… well, suffice to say, it’s fairly blunt about them. And it’s one of the more interesting mobizines too, as it offers new content every day, ensuring users are getting more than the people who just subscribe to the email.
“It’s one of the most popular mobizines,” says John. “The only place you can get their daily content is on Mobizines, which is really cool. While Mobizines is the size it is in comparison to most people’s websites, it’s always going to be difficult to get them to commit to doing bespoke content just for this mobile audience. But we’ve shown through the popularity of things like Holy Moly that if you do something specific to mobile, you get a good response from users.”
Right now, Mobizines just offers text and pics, although if people want to provide video content, they can do it via a link within their mobizine, or by sending out a WAP link in a text message. John says there’s no technical reason why videos couldn’t be included, but it’s a commercial decision instead.
“If we were to bundle a 100-200k video file as part of the mobizine, the user has to download it, which could be an expensive thing to do if they’re on the wrong tariff,” he says, while hoping that more operators follow T-Mobile’s example and launch unlimited data tariffs.
75% of Mobizines users are accessing it on regular Java phones, although the Mobizines reader application is also available for Symbian handsets. A Blackberry version is on the way, which I daresay will lead to a new crop of mobizines about business news / share prices / schtupping your secretary to cater for a new influx of suity types. A Windows Mobile version is also under consideration, although Palm OS is further down the list.
What about handheld games consoles? “We do have a version of Mobizines which works on the PSP,” says John. “It’s quite cool. Obviously, you don’t have GPRS or a 3G connection, so it updates over Wi-Fi. As soon as any operating system or platform gets traction and users, we’ll port over to it as quickly as we can.”
To check out Shiny’s mobizines, click on the following links depending on which you want: Tech Digest, Shiny Shiny, Who Ate All The Pies and Shoewawa.
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