Monday, 30 June 2008

All aboard the Mippin Maker

We have been looking at those titles that have been self-created through the Mippin Maker over the past few weeks. Topics include religion, fishing, neighbourhood watch, schools, art galleries, mobile blogs, top eateries in Cape Town, family blogs, job search agencies, and so on and so on.

There are at least half a dozen different languages, including Urdu and Russian which flex Mippin's muscles by using a different character set with the most popular language after English being Spanish.

One quarter of these publishers have used their existing AdMob accounts to monetise the traffic coming to their mobile feed. Traffic to many of these sites may not be tremendous but considering that setting up the site is free and takes less than ten minutes - it is still a healthy return!

The long tail is alive and well on Mippin. We did a study of readership of all the titles on the service and realised that over three- quarters of the titles are logged in the Favourites list of at least two users. It is reassuring to read the traditional media - and this is often the first point of call for most - but people seem to be far more engaged and inquisitive to find - often independent - sources of information which are more specific to a particular interest.

So, do not be put off from trying to reach a wider audience through mobile - people are there ready for your content.

Here are a handful of sites created in the last week or so which are relevant to the industry we are in. Stay up to date with them on your desktop or through adding them to your favourites within Mippin:

- In a Start-Up Mood
- Mobile in Emerging Markets: The Future is Now
- Reflections on Things Mobile
- MobileSurf's Webblog

Enjoy! We'll add some of the quality long tail offerings in due course. Keep your eyes open.

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Thursday, 26 June 2008

Bye Bye Mobizines

We have finally turned off all the lights on Mobizines. Some of you may not have realised that Mobizines was a product from the Mippin Team but in many ways it was the early alpha forerunner of Mippin.

Mobizines was a client download to the phone through Series 60 and Java clients which kept you up to date with a selection of your favourite titles. In the UK and South Africa these portfolios rivalled the operator portals in size and variety. We peaked at around 50,000 or so of you using the service in any given month which for a downloadable application at the time was pretty good but was not enough to make our business model swing. And, although emotional at the time, the decision to migrate into the browser was in the end a straightforward one and one that has proven correct even in a short space of time.

We'd like to say a BIG THANK YOU to all of those that used the service - and continued to use it even after we began to focus on developing Mippin and left Mobizines behind. We had some really loyal customers and until very recently there were still over 10,000 users actively using the service to read their favourite content or play Suduko.

For these loyal customers - some of whom even remember this old logo which accompanied the launch way back when - the loss of Suduko in Mippin has been somewhat contentious and upsetting. Wow! did we get some feedback on that! We can now offer this and more for free through the Games section and we hope this goes some way to make amends.

Added to that, Mippin is lightyear's beyond what we could do previously, including:

- a self customising list of favourites
- over 10m stories to reference and search through compared to less than 1,000
- the ability to add whatever you'd like without having to wait for us
- much more flexibility in customising your experience
- no problems on download (your single biggest gripe)

and there is more coming because we are much much quicker now than before.

We are excited by a launch next week which will recommend to you titles from other users based on what you are reading or searching for. There are over 10m stories out there and we want to help you discover the ones which are most relevant for you.

Keep the feedback coming. Thanks for being part of the journey so far.

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Thursday, 19 June 2008

Mobile 2.0 gathering pace

On the back of a couple of excellent events organised state-side, the Mobile 2.0 team have this year organised an event in Europe. Next Friday (4th July) in Barcelona a selection of the great and the good of the emerging mobile data industry (and us) will come together and help inspire each other that the effort is worth it by sharing successes and learnings of the work to date.

The agenda is here and I'd recommend it. In fact clearly so - as we were so impressed with the US events that we have joined the event as a sponsor.

Rudy de Waele of m-trends is at the helm so it is sure to go swimmingly. Give going along some thought and if you do make it drop mippin a tweet or a comment to the blog so we can be introduced and you can tell us how you'd like Mippin to develop/improve.

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May's AdMob Metrics

Google dominates mobile search

SMS Text News runs a story this morning that Google gets 61% of mobile search. Yahoo! is a distant number 2 on these stats with 18% of the market. The figures are from Nielsen.

I have just trawled through the blog because I thought I had written on this previously in terms of Mippin's experience but cannot locate it. I definitely tweeted about it and probably promised a corresponding blog post - whoops.

Our data is even more weighted towards Google - in fact incoming organic search traffic from Google is 40 times that of Yahoo! and MSN combined. Yahoo! has done wonders recently with the effectiveness of its search button but it is not yet a meaningful player in the mobile space. I imagine that the 18% market share above is due to the operator deals that they have and that our numbers are a more accurate reflection of the off portal user preference for Google over anything else.

[As an aside, related but off topic: we can also see how many referrals come from,, etc. The overwhelming (95%) choice of users is to use - our contention is that users want to go to the internet page they know NOT a different mobile URL.]

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Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Let’s talk about… SEX!

Looking through the publishers that are beginning to make use of the Mippin Maker I noticed the Spinvox blog had crept in without my noticing. Spinvox is one of the most interesting and innovative mid-sized companies in the UK in the tech space. Its original tech innovation was successfully turning voice into text and it is embracing ever more ways of engaging with both corporates and consumers to make use of its technology. It's interesting to follow.

The Whatleydude works there and has recently been experimenting on melding his mobile, social and Spinvox knowledge and ideas into a plan to help a number of companies find an angle through which to generate interest in what they are doing. The first implementation is very worthy indeed, with the Staying Alive Foundation whose mission - under the sponsorship of MTV - is to help eradicate AIDS/HIV among the young in Africa. You can read more about it on the Spinvox blog - and from there see the inspiration for the gratuitous title to this blog.

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Thursday, 12 June 2008

HTC Diamond: First Look

From time to time, when a new device comes along, we make a special effort to get hold of it to ensure that when you use it you will get the kind of experience from Mippin that you have come to expect. This week the HTC Diamond was released as a "white label iPhone killer" for the operators and as we have been tweaking our own iPhone experience we thought that we'd take a look.

The video is the initial exploration of the team when it reached the office on Tuesday. Your main protagonists are Rich and Flashy.

The salient points:

- some of the UI is really cool (the windscreen wipe on the weather widget when it is raining is the best bit about the whole phone)
- it has a stylus! NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
- it has a magnetic stylus which pops back into the hole - coooool!
- the early pages of the UI look very neat and .... errrr.... iPhone-like but you quickly get into the standard and rather old-fashioned looking Windows UI which then seems a little like an anticlimax
- it is a VGA screen so most of your web pages look tiny

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Monday, 9 June 2008

Memories, memories

I noticed in this week's Carnival over on the ever useful WAP Review a survey over at Vision Mobile aimed at gleaning feedback on a host of different development platforms for mobile (which if you are a developer we'd recommend you complete). It brought our learnings from the client space top of mind again.

As long time Java, Flash, Symbian, Series60 (and on and on) developers we have a lot of information to share on our experiences in this space. I think that, bottom line, our feedback would be if you do not need a dedicated software client to be able to deliver your proposition to market then avoid it at all costs. We would probably caution further that if you think you do, think again.

On a supply side, the fragmentation is prodigious if you desire to create a global offering and this adds significantly to the testing time in your development cycles not to mention the coding involved.

But the effect on the demand side is tremendous also.

We have the strongest possible feedback from mass market users that if they can avoid downloading an application they will. This puts a greater burden on closing pre-installation deals with device manufacturers and operators, both of which are tough for small companies to deliver upon and retain control of their roadmaps - and certainly no guarantee of success.

The user experience is our passion and hardly a day goes past without us striving to improve it in some way. The blessing now is that we can make that change immediately rather than after a long development and testing cycle.

It seemed a tough call to leave the client work behind and we certainly applaud those still developing for such platforms, but delivering Mippin in the browser certainly worked for us.

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