Sunday, March 13, 2011

Why Mobile-Friendly Websites Are Critical For Business

To land the big fishes, you need to be able to find them. But like the fishes themselves, data about where and when the big ones are biting don’t stay fresh for long.
The 100,000 or so user forum members of Bigfishtackle.com like to share just that kind of information, but by the time they get back home or to their Wi-Fi enabled cabins to log on to tell their friends the best places to drop a line (or maybe just to gloat), it could be old news. It would be a lot better if they could log onto their mobile phones the instant they set the hook, right from the boat.
“Fishing reports can get a little dated,” says Mike Hodgdon, COO of Colorado Springs, Colo.-based First Light Net, which runs Bigfishtackle.com and other websites for outdoor enthusiasts. “There is a big advantage for the angler to do this while they’re actually on a fishing spot. That’s why we started to see some demand to post to the forum from mobile phones.”
The website became an early adopter of new technology enabling a mobile-optimized web browsing experience. In 2007, it started reformatting its site for smaller mobile device screens. But the business soon found dotMobi, a Dublin, Ireland, firm that’s among a handful of companies that sells .mobi domain names, as well as tools for creating a mobile-optimized web experience. Now, Bigfishtackle.mobi gives forum members viewing, browsing and posting functions that are just like the desktop web experience, but rendered just right for a 3- or 4-inch mobile phone screen.
The site and others like it represent a growing trend among entrepreneurial businesses to achieve a more mobile-friendly web presence.
The .mobi designation isn’t for a separate website–it’s just a mobile-optimized extension. Bigfishtackle.com didn’t have to change its URL. “You can post to the .mobi site, and it integrates with the regular website in real time,” Hodgdon says.
Pinky Brand, director of global sales at dotMobi, estimates that businesses could realize a bump in traffic of 10 percent to 15 percent by mobile-optimizing their websites. That could be the amount of traffic they are losing if customers try to visit their regular websites from mobile phones and find them unfit for viewing on their device screens.
“Mobile is what a lot of consumers use to look for businesses right now,” Brand says. “In truth, every business already has a mobile website because your website can be seen on mobile phones. It’s just that the businesses may not know how bad it looks on a mobile phone.”
Bigfishtackle.mobi was among the first sites launched with dotMobi’s help. Though the site does see some unique visitors, Hodgdon says the crossover from the regular website has been especially notable, with about 40 percent of website visitors crossing over to the mobile-optimized version. That’s a lot of impact for a project that cost its website proprietor little more than $8,000.
“If you think about it, this makes sense for a lot of different types of businesses because the mobile phone market is so big,” Hodgdon says. “The opportunity is bigger than just building for computers.”
The nascent mobile website movement could be the next step for mobile-savvy businesses that have joined the mobile app explosion, or even for those who have missed out on apps. However, in the long run mobile websites could prove to have broader implications and greater business benefits.
It can be expensive and labor intensive to develop a mobile app to represent your business. Developers of the earliest mobile data apps often had to write different versions for every mobile device on which they wanted the apps to play, says Mitch Lazar, CEO of Taptu, a social media and technology company with headquarters in Denver and Cambridge, England.
Lazar himself was an early entrant into mobile Internet endeavors, having created the CNN Mobile service after starting CNN.com in the 1990s.
“There were huge cost and distribution challenges because you had to customize the service for every phone that was out there,” Lazar says. “We had to create about 500 different SKUs for CNN Mobile for different distributors.”
A pair of philosophically opposite technology evolutions in recent years made the development process easier. First, Apple created its own tightly controlled app ecosystem with the highly desirable iPhone at the center of it. Next, the emergence of the Android operating system created an open environment for developers to create an app once, and with a few tweaks, get it on a much broader list of devices.
The success of the iPhone and the rise of the Android army created a fast-growing market for mobile apps, but with that success came new challenges for any business seeking to make its mark with its own mobile app. For starters, it has to deal with an app store, such as Apple’s iPhone store, that will want a piece of the revenue. Also, the app undergoes lengthy, rigorous testing and certification procedures before it gets a spot on the virtual store shelf.
But the biggest challenge may be getting the app noticed once it does become available. At the Apple store, for example, an app now has to fight for attention against more than 300,000 others–and that’s just one app store. And if consumers do find it, will they use it? As mobile phone users download an increasing number of apps, concerns are growing about the potential for app overload.
“It’s filter failure, the problem of not being able to filter out what’s core to you,” Taptu’s Lazar says. “It’s a problem that has spanned years as we’ve had an Internet fire hose pointing at us.”
Taptu’s MyTaptu social news aggregation app allows users to build a personalized visual experience on the mobile phone that lets them avoid “app-hopping,” Lazar says. That could make it easier for individual business apps to be found in the rapidly growing mobile app universe.
Though tools like Taptu help, many small-business owners believe that the mobile app environment still can be an abyss, and that they could better use their time and money enhancing their core websites, rather than trying to get a homespun app onto their customers’ phones.
Nitin Bhandari, co-founder and chief product officer of Skyfire, a company in Mountain View, Calif., whose mobile browser technology converts web pages for viewing on mobile devices, says having a greater mobile web focus makes more sense for businesses now because mobile network bandwidth advancements and browser innovations have caught up with device capabilities.
“You’ve got better devices, better networks and better browsers,” he says. Yet how and when to pursue the mobile web remains a challenge.
“There’s a great deal of confusion about the mobile web,” says Joshua Bixby, president of website optimization firm Strangeloop, in Vancouver, B.C. “Businesses haven’t known what to do about it, and the largest companies have been focused on coming out with their own apps for individual phones.
“What’s getting the mobile web more attention is executives checking out their competitors’ websites from their iPhones and finding out [those sites] work better on mobile than their own,” Bixby says. “Then they force their IT departments to change direction and prioritize the mobile web.”
DotMobi’s Brand says businesses should keep in mind three factors when developing a mobile website: the site needs to be able to detect when mobile users are accessing it; it needs a way to adapt content to a mobile format; and it needs a way to present that mobile-ready content.
One of the main technology tools is HTML 5, the first version of the well-known Internet development language to accommodate mobile. It allows the creation of mobile-optimized websites, as well as “web apps”–essentially website-based apps and widgets that can be accessed through a web browser such as Google Chrome or Apple Safari that uses the Webkit open source web page rendering system that is part of the HTML 5 standard.
“Web apps are basically HTML wrapped in an app,” says Mark Britten, senior product manager of NewBay Software, which has offices in Seattle and Dublin. “It is something that is much more lightweight and much quicker to use than XML.”
But the best part for small businesses that lack an IT department is that no knowledge of HTML 5 is required. Solutions such as dotMobi’s goMobi service platform can do the grunt work for you. With goMobi, business owners use simple drag-and-drop methods to turn their desktop site into a mobile one. And, Brand says, the conversion process takes just minutes. With dotMobi’s free mobiReady.com service, owners can test their existing site to see how it will look from the perspective of different devices.
Many Advocates of HTML
5 argue that mobile-optimized websites and emerging web apps based on the platform can help businesses avoid the mobile app store glut by sending users right to their websites–which, in turn, can help dig users out of the piles of mobile apps that may be suffocating their overall mobile Internet usage.
“Mobile apps actually have a high churn rate. All of these apps you have downloaded are digital weight you carry around,” says Skyfire’s Bhandari. “But web browsing only continues to increase.”
Bixby says a revolution in mobile-optimized websites could eventually de-emphasize app stores for both app creators and users–though he acknowledges that’s hard to imagine right now, during the height of the mobile app market.
“Apps as we know them now are a phase in the maturity of the mobile Internet,” he says. “The browser is what will define that experience in the future.”
Taptu’s Lazar thinks otherwise: that apps will continue to be important, and that technology like HTML 5 will just make it easier for entrepreneurial businesses to negotiate all aspects of the mobile web, whether in site development or app development.
“HTML 5 lets Taptu create a smart browser solution without having to rewrite a lot of code, but you will still have apps. Like your website, they will just be written in HTML 5,” he says.
The increasing ease with which entrepreneurial businesses can leverage the mobile web could make it a simple decision for companies to get onboard. In addition, it’s a relatively inexpensive move, and it might even make sense for some new businesses to make their Internet debut as a mobile website.
Still, dotMobi’s Brand says the decision to mobile-optimize a site or to go further and support m-commerce is something that has to come down to a business’s understanding of its audience.
Bigfishtackle.com was so certain of its users’ interest in mobile that it snapped up about 30 .mobi URLs from dotMobi, Hodgdon says. He sees the potential for m-commerce activity, such as the ability to buy a fishing license from your phone and to display it on your phone screen.
“The .mobi site is an extension of what we have been doing from the very beginning,” Hodgdon says.
Brand says the progress of mobile websites “reminds me of the desktop Internet growth of 15 years ago. It’s driven by advances in device horsepower and connectivity. But desktop was a slower evolution, and the mobile Internet adoption rate is blindingly fast. The way this will take root is that entrepreneurs will talk to one another and say, ‘I did this and it worked for me, so maybe it will work for you.’”
Dan O’Shea is a writer in Chicago who has been covering telecom, mobile and other high-tech topics for nearly 20 years.source

Person Finder Service From Google For Japan

Google moved quickly to launch a service to help connect people missing in Japan with their loved ones.
In just under three hours after the 8.9 magnitude earthquake in Japan, Google had its Person Finder service up and running. The app lets people report someone as missing or report someone who has been found.
The website is setup in both a Japanese and English version and includes the warning: “All data entered will be available to the public and viewable and usable by anyone. Google does not review or verify the accuracy of this data.”
Within two hours of launching, the service had gained 2,000 entries from people reported missing, or from people who had been reported alive. As of 11:00 AM EST the service was tracking some 7,200 entries.
Google used a similar service following the recent earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand and following last year’s quakes in Haiti and Chile.
Google also posted a tsunami warning on its homepage, warning of danger in the Pacific region caused by the earthquake in Japan. Earlier in the morning the homepage contained a more direct warning: “Tsunami Alert for New Zealand, the Philippines, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Hawaii, and others. Waves expected over the next few hours, caused by 8.9 earthquake in Japan.” source

Despite tsunami and Quakes, Japan remains online

In spite of a swath of devastation caused by Friday's earthquake and tsunami, Japan's Internet remains strong.
As Japan continues to suffer from ongoing damage, devastation and heartache for lost and departed loved ones caused by Friday’s monstrous 8.9-magnitude earthqauke and the resulting tsunami, one thing remains constant: an Internet connection..
According to All Things Digital, “only a small fraction” of Japan’s Internet connections were affected by the horrific wrath wrought upon the island nation by Mother Nature. Because of this fortunate happenstance, the country’s vital communication systems have stayed constant, enabling those in Japan to communicate with one another and the world at large.
Japan’s Internet health report comes via research firm Renesys, which shows that of the 6,000 links connecting Japan’s Internet to the rest of the world, only about 100 were temporarily disabled. And, as Renesys’ James Crowie notes on the company blog, “that number has actually decreased in the hours since the event.”.
Internet service providers in Japan have, of course, reported “congrestion and drops in traffic” due to the quake and tsunami, says Crowie. But most websites are online and operational, “and the Internet is available to support critical communications.”.
The Internet situation in Japan is vastly better than that of the 2006 Taiwan earthquake, which caused a significant number of the underwater cables that carry the Internet to break, resulting in major disruptions..
Survival of Japan’s Internet, says Cowie, is most likely due to the “dense web of domestic and international connectivity” built by Japanese engineers “that is among the richest and most diverse on earth.”.
While Internet connectivity stands strong, the situation in Japan remains dire..
As many as 10,000 people — more than half the population — in the decimated seaside town of Minamisanriku are missing. And the death toll througout the country has climed to 680, with many more still lost. Countless more are homeless or displaced.
The city of Sendai, located nearest the epicenter of the quake, lies awash in the deadly waters of the tsunami that reached as far as three miles inland. Parts of that city continue to burn.
As the country begins recovery attempts from Friday’s disaster, another calamity looms at the damaged nuclear power plant in Fukushima city, where workers flushed the reactor with sea water on Saturday in an attempt to prevent a complete meltdown.
Japan’s government has evacuated a 12 mile radius around Fukushima due to dangers of radiation contamination. Some have already been contaminated. And the panic caused by a potential nuclear catastrophe has left officials and residents alike with  additional hardship on top of disaster.source

Vast majority of smartphone users experience service problems

If you’ve ever cursed at your mobile operator for providing less-than-stellar service—or no service at all—wherever you happen to be at every instant of every day…you’re not alone. A new survey commissioned by Empirix (and conducted by Harris Interactive) finds that fully 86 percent of U.S. smartphone users experienced problems tapping into multimedia application on their mobile devices, with three quarters of U.S. smartphone owners report having connectivity problems while trying to perform other smartphone activities like Internet searches, downloading data, using apps or social networking services, or accessing media. Furthermore, 20 percent of U.S. and German smartphone users reported “always” or “often” having problems using data-related smartphone functions, with that percentage increasing to 30 percent in the United Kingdom.
And who gets the blame to these failures? More than half the respondents “directly blame” their mobile service operators for the problems.
“The proliferation of mobile devices has created unparalleled use of new services and applications on smart devices, frequently causing a strain on service provider networks,” said Empirix’s director of marketing Bob Hockman, in a statement.. “Mobile providers often do not realize that consumers are judging them based not only on broader mobile application offerings, but more so on whether the application works as advertised, every time. Without consistent, high-quality connectivity, carriers make themselves susceptible to disenchanted customers and lost business.”
The implication is that while mobile carriers are eager to transition users to smartphones with extensive data capabilities—and all the potential revenue streams those devices can provide—the bottom line is that the vast majority of smartphone users, at some level, experience frustration and failures—and that doesn’t create satisfied and loyal customers.
Empirix urges carriers to identify and solve service issues before they’re experienced by end users. “Customers no longer tolerate just ‘ok’ service,” Hockman continued. “From pre-deployment testing to ongoing networking monitoring, end-to-end quality assurance is critical to enabling providers to get their network right and keep it right.”
The online survey was conducted in February 2011 and covered some 2,180 smartphone users who reported having problems with multimedia activity on their devices.source

Airtel and Vodafone Concentrating on 3G

With Bharti Airtel launching its 3G services in Mumbai, the telecom operator is looking at multiplying its data subscribers in the 13 3G circles and over 40 cities, by March 2011.
“Data subscribers comprise about 13.5 per cent of revenues on Saturday and broadband penetration in the country hovers at under one per cent. It is only logical to assume that 3G on mobile will be the first internet experience in 2011,” said Atul Bindal, president (mobile services), Bharti Airtel, who is expectant to grow its subscriber volumes, specifically in the pre-paid segment.
With data becoming critical to operator’s revenues, metros like Mumbai that boast of data penetration of about 20 per cent among the subscribers, remain a critical hotbed. Bharti, which, according to Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) data, added about 33 lakh subscribers in Mumbai in January, has launched 3G data plans starting at Rs 8 onwards. Bindal believes that most subscribers will experiment with 3G trial plans before adopting services.

“Mumbai is the 11th city where we have unveiled 3G networks, but are hopeful of widening the enterprise customer base here,” he said.
Vodafone, which added 56 lakh subscribers in Mumbai in January, said it has set up the experience zones at stores across cities and is inviting customers to experience the same. “The commercial roll out of the services across all our circles will be announced shortly. Vodafone 3G services will be available to all our customers by the end of this quarter,” said a spokesperson from Vodafone Essar.
Meanwhile, Vodafone with a 16 per cent market share, has also announced its plans to launch 3G services in Mumbai in the next 15 days. “Over 100,000 customers have already started using our 3G services and are providing valuable feedback, which we are using to enhance the customer experience,” said an official company spokesperson, Vodafone Essar. The company is currently offering 3G services on trial to selected consumer base.
Bharti Airtel, which according to TRAI data commands over 20 per cent of the total telecom subscriber base, has already added around six lakh 3G users to its kitty. This number includes its existing 3G users. The company has already launched in the service in Bangalore, Chennai, Coimbatore, Mysore, Manipal, Udupi, Jaipur and Delhi NCR.
Both Airtel and Vodafone are launching their 3G services much later than Tata DOCOMO and Reliance Communications, which launched 3G service last year. However, experts opine that bigger telecom companies are likely to get a bigger share of the 3G subscribers as they own high average revenue per user (ARPU) customers, who are more likely to sample premium services like 3G.
Analysts, Business Standard spoke to, claimed that a significant portion of Bharti’s subscriber base uses 3G enabled handsets. “This proportion, according to our estimates, is 12 per cent and 10 per cent of the subscriber base in the top-50 cities and top-100 cities, respectively,” said an analyst. Analysts also believe that it may be possible to expect data (especially 3G) revenues to contribute 30 per cent of Airtel’s total revenues in two years (with voice revenues growing at a modest rate).source

Infosys building an application store for Mobile Service Provider

Infosys building an application store for Mobile Service Provider

 read more on  below link ..

Federal bank launches Mobile money transfer service

The service, which enables real time fund transfer via mobile, is now available with 12 banks. Allahabad bank will launch the service next month.

Federal Bank, a private sector bank, has launched the Interbank Mobile Payment Service (IMPS), a real-time fund transfer facility through mobile phone, in association with National Payment Corporation of India.
The new facility was launched by Dileep, Malayalam film actor in the presence of Shyam Srinivasan, managing director and chief executive officer of the bank.
Inter-bank Mobile Payment Service (IMPS) is operated by National Payment Corporation of India's (NPCI), which is the umbrella organisation for all retail payment systems in the country owned and operated by banks.
There are 12 other banks which offer this service including SBI, ICICI, Axis Bank, Kotak, Bank of India, HDFC, Lakhsmi Vilas bank, Union bank of India, Yes Bank, Corporation bank, Indian Bank, and Oriental bank of commerce. Allahabad bank is also in the process of starting this service.
At present, a majority of interbank mobile fund transfer transactions take place through the National Electronic Fund Transfer (NEFT) system. Under this, the transactions are processed and settled in batches during the working hours from 9am to 7pm, and not in real time.
IMPS scheme, allows customer to transfer funds instantaneously to any other bank account using mobile phone. The other account, however, needs to be IMPS registered as well. The service is offered without any restriction on timings.
The customer who wants to transfer funds or to receive funds has to register for mobile banking with the bank. Once registered, an MMID (Mobile Money Identifier) is generated. The MMID is a seven-digit number issued by the bank upon registration. Customer also has an option to register for receiving funds only.
The unique combination of mobile number and MMID is all that is required for the transaction to take place. The customer will simply need to enter the beneficiary's mobile number and MMID along with the amount to be transferred. Both the remitter and beneficiary will receive SMS confirmation of the transaction.
These transactions can be initiated by downloading the mobile banking application of customer's banks in his mobile or by sending an SMS in a predefined format. However using SMS only Rs 1000 can be sent everyday and there is a cap of Rs 5000 for a month. This cap is higher with the use of an application (downloaded on the phone), and allows transfer funds up to Rs 50,000 daily.
The service providers a unique preposition to bank and users, the banks gain as the service reduces the cost of fund transfer, customers benefit as the save on time. The service was launched in the last quarter of 2010.source

Banks plan to absorb mobile payment service charges

Banks are planning to charge nothing to consumers who do payments on mobile..
read more on - http://www.3dsyndication.com/dna/dna_english_news_and_features/Banks-plan-to-absorb-mobile-payment-service-charges/DNMUM202833

President launches scheme for MVAS and IT related skills for women Self Help Group

A book 'Sanchar Shakti' on the scheme specially designed by the National Institute of Design was released byTelecom Minister Kapil Sibal and presented to the President, marking the eve of International Women’s Day.

In her address on the occasion, the President said,"real development cannot take root if it bypasses women, who represent the very pivot around which social change takes shape. As we make progress on gender mainstreaming, more and more women will become full partners in many activities of the Nation and society." Ms Patil said that with the launch of this scheme, rural women will become both users and enablers of ICT service with the launch of this scheme.

Under the scheme, Mobile Value Added Services are being designed to provide a variety of useful information to women about health, social issues, and government schemes, as also livelihood related inputs and training over their mobile phones, she said.

It is intended that while the targeted group will benefit through improved skills and livelihoods, the overall rural community will get access to facilities such as locally available mobile repair and solar mobile charging centres.

"Communication technology has proved very useful for exchange of best practices, and for providing a platform for exchange of information on common problems. Women's Self Help Groups (SHGs) can also look at linking with each other through ICT," she added.

Welcoming the President on the occasion, Mr Sibal said," ICT is the new age highway, which once laid, the traffic and branches of the same would spring up on its own need basis." Mr Sibal said that this e-connectivity to rural enclaves would unleash the creative spirit of the market forces and will serve as entry point to every wave of ICT revolution.

This project is ‘inclusive’ in nature as the participants include SHGs, mobile service providers, handset and modem manufacturers, mobile VAS providers, NABARD, Ministry of Rural Development and Non Government Organisations (NGOs).

The scheme would utilise core competencies of the partners in a collaborative fashion, the Minister added.

Speaking on the occasion, Minister of state for Communications and IT, Sachin Pilot said,"ICT has to play an important role in taking to rural women the benefits of the schemes and policies meant for them." He underlined the significance of the scheme which lies in the fact that the benefits of ICT revolution reaches out to women who comprise nearly half of our population.source