Sunday, October 07, 2007

From Web to Mobile, One Step at a Time

My advice to Web developers wanting to penetrate the world of Mobility is to take it in strides. Forget about dealing with the plethora of on-device platforms (from 5+ different Operating Systems, to the 3 or so middleware platforms, to the 1000's of resolution and other iterations). WAP and Mobile Web have their problems. The learning curve is steep and quite costly.

The simplest and quickest way to get your feet wet in mobile is through SMS. Through services like TextMarks or Mozes you will be up and running in no time without the need to integrate with any carrier or aggregator. But SMS will not allow you to automatically port your application to a mobile dimension. Although SMS will only allow your application to extend some functionality to the mobile device it will achieve two things:

1) It will help you learn more about your users' interactions with their mobile devices with respect to your app. This is valuable information to have before taking the full plunge and investing significantly in other mobile platforms.

2) In many cases and depending on your application it will help drive stickiness by allowing you to ping users when they are away from their PC

The best example I can think of is Facebook. They started off by supporting a few alerts to users' mobile phones. Today they host a plethora of alerts and functionality around these alerts. Facebook even allows (much like blogger) to post pictures from a mobile device. Other excellent examples are Twitter and Truemors.

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