Mobile and Widget Content Delivery – should they be same?

December 20, 2007

Mobile and Widget/Gadget based content delivery faces very similar issues. Both need to address limited form factors. Both need to address Multiple form factors. Both need to handle multiple platforms ( WAP/XHTML and possibly Flashlite for Mobile, Yahoo/Google/Vista and browser based gadgets otherwise). The bigger problem is that in the current state, there is no clear industry leader and that all the platform fetch marginal revenues ( Most of mobile revenue is Text/SMS – not addressed here).

However, both platforms are increasingly gaining importance. Data revenues is 12% or so of total revenues of Mobile service providers ( though it may be argued most of that is 3G cards to make Laptops connect to internet and not mobile). And widgets are coming up as useful tools – slated to rival RSS – for repeat/loyal traffic.

Today – atleast to my knowledge – there is no silver bullet for content delivery on these platforms. Companies are experimenting and implementing different ways.

For instance – there are two popular ways for delivering content effectively on mobiles

1) to use a platform like Volantis/Drutt/MobileAware  and more. to code once and deliver on multiple devices and form factors. These products do a good job of having an updated repository of mobile capabilities and limitations and hence can choose how to present content. Apoorv had earlier written this article about mobile content delivery to explain this concept.

2) To use a Gadget/Widget like approach as provided by Zumobi , Yahoo Go ( and I am sure there are more).

Similarly when coding cross platform widgets, people usually look up to use Flash ( which is supported on I think all widget platforms – yes even Yahoo supports it now – and which can be converted to executables for use as desktop widgets)

I just hope that both mobile platform and Gadget providers see this as a single problem and hope we have either a clear winner or a clear standard addressing both!

If any of you has pondered with this before – please post a comment and lets share notes.

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7 Responses to “Mobile and Widget Content Delivery – should they be same?”

  1. Tomsoft Says:

    As a CTO of Webwag, which is a converging platform, we try to address all these problem.
    We are provinding a widget engine for mobile, and a web startpage too.

    So let me add some comments:
    – First, zumobi is hardly a wxidget platform in my view, seems to me more an interesting way to bookmark website, and focused more on Windows mobile which is not really a deployed platform.
    – Flash, as a technical solution, is a very niche market but growing.
    – Trying to address XHTML pages with a widget approcach is even more complicated, because usually widget rely on client scripting capacities and not server capacities.

    So the difficulty is to find a common base to address all these platforms. We’ve made the choice to push XML/javascript gadgets, and we are providing the layer that make this widget available on the maximum of platforms, web, mobile, iphone, flash and others….

  2. Pranshu Jain Says:

    Thanks Tom
    Liked your post on Andriod
    http://blog.landspurg.net/first-thought-on-android/ and the list of mobile platforms

    Let me summarize the development landscape these days. We have:

    XHTML/Wap family
    the iPhone mobile browsing familiy
    the iPhone native/ObjectiveC
    Symbian
    Windows Mobile
    FlashLite
    and of course J2ME
    and now we can add Androïd with probably native/C++ Androïd and Java Androïd. Not sure that we should thank Google for this one!

    I appreciate the work you ( and webwag of course) have taken up for a “cross platform” widget.

    I believe that if you license content companies to expose the platform via their URL, with their Ads – you could open up to new revenue streams that Netvibes currently seems to be ignoring.

  3. Mark Watson Says:

    Hi. Firstly I work for Volantis (just to declare an interest).

    Re the original post, Volantis, Drutt and Mobileaware might try to do the same things, but don’t work in exactly the same way. My understanding of Drutt (now owned by Ericsson) is that it involves site definition using XSL templates around a proprietary markup describing content characteristics. I don’t believe it has a significant database of device characteristics. I don’t know Mobileaware well enough to comment on it. Volantis implements W3C’s DIAL recommendations and does indeed provide a database of device characteristics.

    We also provide a Javascript/AJAX widget library as part of Volantis Mobility Server, for those browsers which are capable of supporting Javascript (and where relevant AJAX). It’s a cross platform mobile equivalent to libraries script.aculo.us (http://script.aculo.us/) and prototype (http://prototypejs.org/), with the additional twists that the capabilities can be embedded into pages through markup tags, and allowing the runtime to substitute sensible fallback facilities where the browsers capabilities are insufficient to run the libraries.

    You can see a demo of the capabilities if you go to http://community.volantis.com, and hit the link marked “Demo” to the right of the flash animation (I’ve asked the marketing team to provide a more sensible link I can copy and paste). You can also download a free copy of Volantis Mobility Server from the same site; we plan to release the code under open source licensing in Q1 next year.

    On the platforms you describe, most implement a browser capability which can be used for “web 2.0” type widgets (Adobe’s Air platform is meant to render flash, XHTML and Javascript/AJAX if I remember right). For “Yahoo Widgets” or MacOS Dashboard-like widgets on a phone you are looking at having native code, or a native implementation. The issue with the latter approach is getting to the point where applications can be downloaded to the phone, or else it has to be the case that any platform is specified onto the phone by the handset provider (possibly in conjunction with the operator) – this isn’t just a technology problem but also one around the political and economic issues which afflict the mobile business.

  4. Pranshu Jain Says:

    Thank you Mark. Your comments just saved me a few days or work – really appreciated!

    However you also added some work for me to see how Adobe’s air can be used to make a Desktop widget for MacOS/Vista/Yahoo :) .

    If someone were to provide a XHTML/Javascript browser on the Yahoo Widget/Vista or MacOS desktop widget – then I guess content placed by Volantis will be really universal.

    Any takers ?

  5. Shikha Says:

    Just a simple doubt here… I read about Global mobile technology that has a technology(PUSH-IT) which can push any kind of internet on a mobile phone ( Any mobile phone rather, they just want their data port to be enable) in a better, faster and cost effective manner.

    Are they just solved all the problems???


  6. This is a great blog you got here but i can’t seem to find the RSS button.


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