Interview: Usablenet’s Jason Taylor on the mobile Web

September 13, 2007 at 2:09 pm 1 comment

inbabble-usablenet.gifMost modern mobile phones can view web pages, but that doesn’t mean they are going to look right on a tiny screen. Jason Taylor, VP Mobile Products for Usablenet, specializes in making sure they do. Started in 2000, his company has offices in New York and Italy. At last count it has served more than 49 million mobile web pages, for more than 300 clients including Delta Air Lines, Hilton Hotels, Northwest Airlines, Marriott Hotels, Amtrak, US Airways, NYC, City of Miami, Amtrak, NJ Transit, the State of Oregon, 1800Flowers, and the State of Illinois. We were interested in his statistics about the dominance of Blackberry and Windows Mobile over competing platforms.

Does web content need to change in order to work better on mobile devices?
Taylor: Web content and services need to be reformatted, and the user interface needs to take in consideration the user being mobile. The popular phase is “mobile content for mobile context”.

What does that mean?
Taylor: Mobile content (top aspects) needs to support WAP, XHTML, MWL (i-mode for Japan): small page size, layout for small screen. Mobile context means, “what will the user try to do,” “what aspects of the web site will be needed on the move,” and “when and where will the user be”.

How does Usablenet Mobile fit into all this?
Taylor: Usablenet Mobile is a platform that can take a current web site or service and reformat the content and UI to fit the above. It takes only 6 weeks to launch mobile services that match your current web services. It is unique in the fact that the original site does not have to change and requires no IT work from the client.

Do mobile websites need to be adapted for each carrier or ISP to make them work correctly?
Taylor: The majority of mobile websites are already carrier and ISP-independent. As long as you support the standards, a mobile web site will work on any web-enabled phone.

What if a client’s website isn’t standards-compliant? If it ignores the standards of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), doesn’t it require some recoding?
Taylor: No recoding. Our platform can take care of these issues on the fly.

Do you expect to see more handset and platform standardization?
Taylor: Yes, already Blackberry and Window Mobile make up over 50% of users on major sites.

How do you deal with the wide variations between mobile devices?
Taylor: Our platform has a database built in that knows everything about each device and adapts the page to the device’s capabilities and screen size.

How do you handle websites with streaming video? Do they require special treatment?
Taylor: Video over mobile is really only truly available via one of the carrier services such as V-cast. Support at the device level for playing video is very limited.

You have quite a list of blue-chip clients. Do you offer many services to smaller companies?
Taylor: Our clients range from the big, like Delta Airlines, to the small, like the City of Galveston, with many transit agencies and colleges. Colleges offer student access to calendars, grades, sports etc via mobile, which is a growing market.

Michael M.
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Entry filed under: mobile applications, mobile content, mobile internet, mobile portals.

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1 Comment

  • 1. Taylor G.  |  September 17, 2007 at 12:38 pm

    When are you going to float!

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