Monday, April 03, 2006

AOL Updates Mobile-Browsing Services

TopTechNews reports that "AOL introduced a new mobile-browsing service as part of the company's ongoing efforts to expand its portfolio of offerings for handheld users. The new service complements AOL's mobile-search offering that already provides features such as Web search, online shopping, and local maps. Particularly noteworthy in the new service is its ability to resize any Web page to fit mobile screens."

IDC analyst Alex Slawsby said, "There has been a lot of talk about the omnipresence of these devices, and AOL, Google, and Yahoo are seizing the opportunity to take their brand recognition and technology to a broader audience."

According to a survey conducted by AOL with the Associated Press and the Pew Research Center, "some 30 percent of adults indicated they want to search and browse the Web from their mobile phones, while 47 percent said that mobile maps and driving directions are a "must haves" on the next phone they buy."

Yankee Group analyst Linda Barrabee thought "AOL's offering is attractive because it is more useful than search services limited to earlier mobile technologies." She said, "And formatting pages for mobile devices is key, along with customized services such as Yellow Pages, because people want to find things near them while they are on the move."

Some key results from the survey include:

  • Some 52 percent of adults surveyed said they keep their cell phones turned on all the time
  • 40 percent of those ages 18 to 29 indicated they are likely to drop their landline phone services altogether.
  • Thirty-five percent of those surveyed said they send text messages to friends, family, and business colleagues, including 65 percent of those ages 18 to 29 and 37 percent of those ages 30 to 49
  • 18 percent said they have used or would like to use a mobile instant-messaging service on their handsets.
In a Computerworld article, Julie Ask at JupiterResearch said, "It's important for them to be in the mobile game today. Users are starting to form habits."

Ask noted that "In the U.S., about 10% of cell phone service subscribers engaged in mobile browsing in the past six months. That amounts to between 20 million and 25 million subscribers. However, that is expected to grow in coming years, along with the revenue opportunity, as the mobile Internet experience improves."