BlueTooth enabled ads

I’ve just discovered this company, producing Bluetooth enabeld adds for Viacom:

http://www.embedia.fr/
http://www.viacom-outdoor.fr/

That’s a great idea, and quite interesting way to communicate with most portable devices, including celle phone: get a video trailer of movies, mobile game associated to console game launches, internet links, mapping access, etc….

Update: Thanks to this post in Axel mobility blog (in French), I’ve found several others company on the same kind of market:

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Improvement on Google Map tiles

Just got an information that some GoogleMap tiles jave been greatly enhanced. And that true. Check these two snapshots, left the old version, right the new one. I will modify J2memap to take in accound these changes. Even better, maximum resolution has also been improved! A little bit more complex to do for me, but update on the way too…

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XBox GamerCard MobileWidget

Just for fun, I have developped a small Widget to access to the XBoxLive Gamer Card. You can download the app, it contains the full Widget framework but with just this card, so not really optimized…

You can download it here, but notice…jsut tested it on K700, no guaranty about portability!
XBoxLive.jad
XBoxLive.jar

The widget is code around 45 lines, thanks to the rest of the framework….

Usage: start it, and select “Configuration” from the menu and put your tag, or a friends tag, and press ok….

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BluePulse: widget or browsing?

If you follow my blog, you have probably seen that I’ve started to look at the concept of “Widget on Mobile”, Micro Widget (or Mobile Widget) with this: MicroWidgets is on the Way.

That’s why this BluePulse announce seemed to me quite interesting. The ideas seems to download “widget”, on your mobile, and get revenu from this. But after trying it, I’ve been a little bit disapointed. The so called widget seems to like more as Web pages. I did not take a look at the SDK yet, but seems to me more an attempt to surf on the Widget wave than a real innovative product. Yes, just like other said, I might be missing something but this is definitevly not Konfabulator for mobile phones.

One of the issue is that there is no caching between sessions, so you do have to reload each time the “pages”, and “pages” are not grouped together, so it really gives the feeling of a browser, without the features!

Regarding business model (which is from what I see not really in place, but planned), it seems subscription based par “channel”, similar to what others are doing (typically imode).

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Fun with GoogleMap

I’ve found this nace racing application just recently: it’s a small javascript that simulate a racing game on top of GoogleMap. As it’s in Japaneese, I’ve just grab the script to and make it run on top of SF, one of my favorite spot! ;-). Of course, there is no collision detection with “walls”, but this could be probably implemented using a specific client…If i have time, I would like once do it using my J2meMap framework (or if anybody interested by this?)….
But it’s an interesting example of one of the numerous game that game be done using google map API. I did not see a lot yet, there is this one, a Golf game (nice idea, but bad interface)….

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J2meMap update: issues with search

An update for J2meMap: it seems that Google changed recently the result of the “search” and “direction” requests, moving from XML to HTML.
Not sure if it’s an attempt for third party app (like J2meMap) to stop using their result. But in all case, the “search”, and “direction” feature of J2meMap does not work anymore.
I will try to fix it ASAP, hoping that they won’t do any change in the near future.

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The rationale behind ReqWireless acquisition

Google recently announced the acquisition or ReqWireless, done probably mid of last year. Several posters are questioning the rationale of this acquisition. My previous “guess” was the acquition of Opera (see my Predictions for 2006 ). But ReqWireles is probably cheaper than Opera, and has several interests for Google:

  • It provides a talented team of people. I would not be surprised the GoogleLocal has been partially made thanks to this team. Also, the fact that GoogleLocal client contains a mini browser is a good indication of this.
  • I think that this small browser wills be used to provide a better user experience to end user to access to the Google personalized portal. There is a full XHTML access, but user experience is still average . I would not be surprised if Google provides a “Google personalized client” to access to your email, buddy list, photos, etc in J2me, using partially some microbrowsing based on ReqWireless techno…

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FlashLite: is this really portable?

FlashLogoI’ve just started to look more deeply into FlashLite, as it reach more handset. I’ve found that my K600 haves FlashLite, and tried to get some application for it…I’ve been to MarcordmediaExchange website, and around fourty FlashLite1.1 were here….Great I was thinking..but was is this small notice near the app: SymbianSerie60, and here, Symbian UIQ? waoww…I thought that all FlashLite1.1 were more or less interoperable (just like J2ME). But in fact, all these files were “SIS” file, the one used by Symbian…The nightmare begin! Why? No clue…..

In fact, in the SDK example there were some SWF file to play with: not veyr impressing by the way, and not rendering very well on the K600.

So my first contact with FlashLite was not as good as expected….Please, do not do the same mistake than your competitors, and facilitate true interoperability!

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Google Mobile personalized home page

Google MobileApparently Google just launched a personalized home page. Unfortunatly, the link provided in the Google blog does not seems to work at this time, which is strange as several poster seems to have used it to read some rss feed….

Probably a short term anwser to the Yahoo!Go launch?

Update: it works if you do directly to your mobile to the following link: http://google.com/xhtml GoogleMobile  snapshot
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SyncML is a reality?

One of the most interesting things from the Yahoo!Go connect announcement from Yahoo, was the ability to use SyncML to synchronise your account with your address book, calendar, etc…
Waoow I was thinking, at least it happens….. Let’s try it…

And big disappointment:

What is really strange and weird is that the server seems to filter only to a subset of ten supported phones! Do not really understand why, as SyncML should be standard…. The users who are able to configure SyncML (which is in fact the real challenge) then are blocked because they do not have the right phone. What is the point here? Is there a technical challenge that we do not know?
But let’s assume it’s just a temporary situation, I really believe that SyncML then will be huge. Of course, there is a lot of remaining issues, like settings as usual. So Operator position on this topic will be quite interesting.

Can Ajax save mobile development?

In this post: why mobile AJAX will replace both J2ME and XHTML as the preferred platform for mobile applications development, Ajit Jaokar explains his view on this topic.

And like Tom Hume in this paper, I disagree with most of his conclusion.

I am a big fan of Ajax (even if I think it’s totally over hyped), and I also personally think that it haves a great potential on mobile, but this kind of statement can only make me react….
His argument is based on the fact Ajax will solve the three following issues:

a) The problem of market fragmentation
b) Porting woes (specific to downloading applications like those built on J2ME)
c) Application distribution without ‘walls’

That’s true that market fragmentation is a big issue on mobile. But he did not give any clue why Ajax (so browser based application) will do better than J2me to solve market fragmentation.

The porting woes are also a real problem in mobile world. But this statement is totally false:

To make your [30] games available worldwide in five languages and on only 50 devices, you would need to create 7,500 different builds. At $2,500 per build, you would require a budget of nearly $19 million simply to handle porting.

First, this is totally wrong. Usually porting costs represent around 100% of the price of the game development (in the Java world, excluding different version like 2D/3D). It’s already incredibly huge, but way below this!

But can Ajax solve this issue? For instance, is Ajax used today to do games? Except very simple casual concept games, not really. And on PC there is usually one binary for a game (and one per platform, PC, Xbox, PS, etc…) . While on Ajax there are already several variant depending of the browser (IE,FireFox, etc…). So if Ajax fragmentation appears already on PC, how can it be better on mobile? Ajax developer will face the same issue of usability, screen size, bugs, etc…on numerous mobile platform. Just like J2ME: it’s easy to write a simple cross platform proof of concept. It’s much harder to have a real application running on all devices.

I predict for “Mobile Ajax” the same pattern than for other mobile technologies:

  • first phase: the dream! (write once/run anywhere)
  • second phase: the deception (it does not work as expected except on developer device)
  • third phase: manual porting/adaptation for every different device
  • fourth phase: maturity (a mix of automatic porting with process, devices knowledge and improvements of client )

It happened with Wap, it happens with Java, and it will happen with “MobileAjax”….

So:
- Ajax can not be used to do all the application (and especially not games)
- It will NOT SOLVE the fragmentation issue

Last argument was about application distribution: again, I have no clue why a browser based app would be more widely spread than a downloaded app? The issue is not how to get the application, but how to make it visible: deck placement, advertising, etc… Again, Ajax,J2ME, Brew, etc…issue remains the same…

And do not forget one things also very specific to mobile: even if it’s a very connected device, it’s not always connected to the internet. The difference between offline/online content (through preloaded things, download, caching mechanism, etc…) is much more important than on a desktop. That’s also partof the intelligence of the application, specific to mobile.

Another interesting comment, is why Google (the one who put Ajax in the spotlight) and Yahoo did not choose Ajax to do their mobile client? (if you’ve ever tried to run Google Map on OperaMini, you know why! ;-) ).

And may be there are more creative way to evolve. I really think that Ajax and J2ME offers a perfect mix of technology to create much more creative application, Ajax for the purely “web based” part, J2ME for the more “client based” approach… Again, the MobileWidget experiment is another example of attempt to use this mix between J2ME, XML/HTTP request, and a scripting language in a different way…

Update: see C. Enrique Ortiz

Short feedback on Yahoo!Go client for Serie60

Yahoo!Go
Review of Yahoo ! Go client for Symbian :

Yahoo just provided the ability to download their client on numerous serie60 handset.. So here are a few comments from usage point of view:

http://go.connect.yahoo.com/go/on_your_mobile

  • First surprise, size: it’s huge, 1800kb……especially regarding the fact that it’s native code, and according to functionalities! And it seems that a lot of other stuff is downloaded at the first connection.
  • Once installed, I had very rapidly an “out of memory error”, and I had to start the application again” (I am using a Nokia6680)
  • What you can do: basically, provide an access to MyYahoo from a mobile. More concretely, this mean that:
    • Your address book is synchronized with your MyYahoo address book accoun
    • Your calendar is synchronized with your MyYahoo calendar account
    • You can read your Yahoo email (and being notified when an email is received)
    • You can send photo to your MyYahoo account
    • You can browse the same information than the MyYahoo pages: typically weather, quotes, rss feed you’ve subscribed, etc…
    • You can chat with others users
      • While in a chat session, you can send voice messages
      • While in a chat session, you can send photos
    • You can customize the phone with a yahoo skin (but does not seem that this skin can be updated).
  • From a usability, there is some good things and some bad things:
  • It’s a native symbian application. So no numerous security warning. An SMS is sent to identify yourself.
  • Synchronisation works quite well with, and all the internal address book has been filled with my Yahoo contact base.
  • But some of the menu yahoo categories (news, quotes, etc…) just open the web browser on the selected page. No way to browse off line for instance. Even worst, one page (stock quotes) you are asked again your password/id. But this might be more a bug.
  • The photos album is managed by Yahoo! Photo (and unfortunately not by Flicker, ☺ ).
  • Some more comments and view:
    • The synchronisation is really useful, and it might be a sufficient reason to switch from one service (ex: msn) to another, especially for people who use more IM than Outlook!
    • The link with the camera is also very nice! Might be an “mms killer”: why should a costly MMS to share my picture with others users.
    • And lastly, the chat with picture and photo are really easy and convenient to use!

    So it’s probably one of the first complete “WebToWireless” application.

    Next challenge will be to put such application in the Java world. Not impossible, but will be hard o achieve the same level of integration with the rest of the phone.

    Camera as input devices….

    Just discovered the “littlespringsdesign” blog, which pointed out some really interesting usage about usage of camera within phones, in this entry:

    Mobot does exclusively marketing, but they also have a more general image recognition technology. They target things like allowing users to take pictures of movie posters to get movie info or tickets, brand logos, CD covers, or any sort of printed advertisement to get information or purchase related merchandise (such as ringtones). I expect that the biggest issue with their vision of taking a picture of something like a movie poster rather than a special bar code is that not every movie poster would be in the database, leading to needing to put an extra message on the movie poster – or user frustration and eventual product abandonment.

    Neven Vision appears to have a technology that is similar to, but slightly more generalized than, PaperClick (who specializes in bar codes). Neven Vision’s marketing tool, iScout, uses visual hyperlinks to indicate “clickable” (pict-able?) items. They also have a more generalized product allowing users to take a picture of any product or picture of a product (such as TV or a print ad) that would allow the user to go to an internet site that has the product for sale. Again, until the majority of products are in the database this is likely to result in user frustration and abandonment of the product.

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    What’s wrong with RSS

    RSS is quite interesting, but suffer from a lot of issues, and I start to be a little fed up to heard only one voice, the one that promote the usage of RSS as the only ubiquitous communication form: could be used to deliver email, download code, etc….I even read some proposal to use RSS to notify of presence, location, etc…

    Why not, but the main issue is that RSS is NOT a notification mechanism, it’s a stream that needs to be pulled (and not pushed) to get an update. There is no subscription mechanism, so update depends of you’re refresh rate, which is completely non-optimized.

    Some solution emerges. For example, RSS aggregators can be “pinged” by RSS issuers, to notify that the RSS stream has been updated. And if you subscribe to an aggregator (like Google reader) that he must be able to optimize update for his subscribers. Nice, but this solves only the issue for the aggregator, and not if you want to have a direction connection with the feed.

     
    So, the current architecture of RSS force you to check very frequently the RSS feeds to get real time update of something. That’s a complete technical non sense: that’s fine if you do a daily, or eventually a hourly check. But if you build an IM client on top of this, than the network load will be huge for very few information.

    What is missing is a real subscription mechanism, where you can subscribe to a feed, and get notified of the update of this feed. From a practical point of view, it’s like receiving an email, or an SMS, or being “pinged” when a feed is updated, this would be a good next step.

    So before such solution emerge, be caution and do not use RSS to try to solve all your subscription/update problems….

     Good luck….

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