Eating “little more than buttered macaroni”, founder shuts down mobile browsing platform Mowser

Russell Beattie, an ex-Yahoo mobile evangelist, has announced the closure of his mobile browsing service mowser – located at


Mowser is (the site remains active as of this writing) a web service that processes a website and then optimizes the site for viewing via a mobile device. Mowser works quite well – and prior to becoming an iPhone owner last year, was my primary tool for surfing fullblown websites on the mobile browser on my Treo 700wx.

Beattie writes in his announcement post that he’s been self-funding the startup through his own funds and borrowing from family and friends:

Seriously… A salary will be a good thing to have again. I’m *thousands* of dollars in debt to my family and friends, maxed out on every credit card (all of which are in collections), on my last chance for my apartment (if I bounce one more check…), had my car repossessed *twice*, electricity turned off, cellphones switched off, landline canceled outright, and on more than one occasion (this weekend in particular) eaten little more than buttered macaroni as I waited for an overdue PayPal deposit to arrive (3-4 days? Come on!). Having a steady income will be a welcome mental break, believe me.

I can understand why he’s looking to move on at this point – he’s clearly given it his all.

Beattie is also pretty bearish on the mobile web – causing some, like Larry Dignan over at ZDNet, to wonder if perhaps the mobile web is over begin it began:

In some sense, he’s right. Mobile browsing stinks and frankly I want the same experience I get on my PC. That browsing ability is the secret sauce behind the iPhone and with any luck all devices will surf the Web the same way a PC does.

I can understand this viewpoint – for me, at least, the mobile web was something I went to only when I was forced to do so on my Treo. But since I became an iPhone owner, I’ve been using mobile web applications via the iPhone’s Safari interface quite frequently – and after having that interface experience, I’m not sure that I want to go back to a more limited mobile web browsing experience.

More from Read/Write Web

Opera Mini 4.1 Beta Out Now

It is not just Firefox 3 betas these days, Opera Mini 4.1 just came out in beta. ReadWriteWeb’s got an overview that you might want to check out, otherwise just nab the beta and give it a go.

I had Opera Mini on my mobile phone for a while, but it never really worked nor loaded as fast as the native web browser, although it did handle traditional web pages better. Still, who wants to surf all grown up websites on a small mobile phone screen? We’re not in Japan, every phone isn’t a smartphone… I just might give it a go anyway, we’ll see.

MoFuse, And Why Every (Non Geek) Blogger Should Use It

If there is one thing most bloggers do not mind getting its traffic. Whether they post for attention or money (and sometimes both), bloggers are usually willing to pay any price (whether time or cash) to ensure their sites are optimized for their audience.

Even though most serious bloggers will make sure that their site is displayed properly in both Firefox (version 2 and the beta 3) and Internet Explorer (version 6, the dreaded 7 and beta 8), many however do not even consider making sure their blog can be displayed on a simple mobile phone.

Having a mobile version of your blog is important, especially if your site is receiving traffic from the eastern world (as the phones there are usually more advanced, as well as more affordable than a PC is in the west).

While most affluent bloggers and/or geeks have the spare change and time to optimize their weblogs, many bloggers do not.

Fortunately for the rest of the population (this author included), you do not have to worry about making your site mobile friendly, as a new startup called MoFuse will do the heavy lifting for you for free.
[Read more…]

Six Apart plans native TypePad app for iPhone

Now that Apple has finally sanctioned the development of third party applications for the iPhone, Six Apart has announced that it intends to create a native version of its TypePad blogging platform.

Though TypePad is already available via an iPhone-optimised web site, a native application has the potential to run even more efficiently and further utilise the unique features of the iPhone.

“Our users are already embracing mobile blogging and the advanced capabilities of smartphones,” said Stephane Delbecque, mobile product manager of Six Apart, Ltd. “Providing a mobile option for our customers has always been a priority and we will continue to develop applications as the mobile market and our customers’ needs grow.”

Six Apart already supports over 80% of the smartphone market, thanks to software offerings for mobile operating systems including Symbian S60, Windows Mobile, and Palm OS.

It’s not clear from the initial press release when a prototype may be available, and whether there’ll be a charge for the service. Apple has stated that applications will be available via a special section in the iTunes Store from June this year. They’ll take 30% of any revenue generated from the sale of priced applications.

O2 launches Bluebook: mobile phone backup and blogging service

UK mobile network O2 has launched a free service for its customers, allowing them to backup all of their contacts, text and picture messages, and create online albums and blogs.

Anyone with a compatible phone and either a monthly contract or pre-pay account with O2 can set up a Bluebook account. Within this, an unlimited number of Blueblogs can be created.

Blueblogs are intended to be used to document a person’s life, and can be created from the content already stored on a mobile phone, as well as from a PC.

Blog entries can be created directly from a mobile phone, and it’s as simple as sending a free text or picture message to the short code “40202”, starting with the word “blog”.

All blog entries and comments are moderated by O2 — it’s not clear whether this is an automated or human process, though I’d suspect a combination of the two leaning heavily on automatic filters — so it can take up to an hour for them to be published once sent. This would make it difficult to “live blog” an event — best use Twitter or another microblogging service for that.

Blueblogs are either published (globally accessible) or unpublished (private) — there are no other security levels. O2 suggests that if users want to create content only for a selected group of contacts, they should use the Albums module instead.

O2 says that an unlimited number of Blueblogs can be created, though I’m not sure whether O2 is using “blog” and “post” interchangeably, as there’s no obvious way of selecting which blog to publish to. However, if a user sends a message via the phone, it automatically goes to their primary blog.

Blogs can be keyword tagged, and comments can be deleted.

The system sounds like a cross between Twitter and regular blogging. I can imagine that it will be easier for many people to write micro-blog posts, given the nature of text messaging.

The moderation delay could be a pain — even if someone commented straight away on a post you’ve published it could be two hours from the time the article was sent to the time the comment is published. That could lead to slow conversations — if conversations take off. Hopefully O2 will work on speeding this up, though I understand their reluctance to allow self-moderation or a free-for-all. O2 does state that the maximum time for moderation should be under an hour.

I’ve signed up for the service but haven’t yet tried out a Blueblog. Hats off to O2 — I had some problems registering on Wednesday, but O2 actually sent me a text message to apologise and asked me to try logging in again. Very nice bit of automation there.

Anyone in the UK with O2 can sign up at

NowThen offers Brits photo messaging and blogging services

A new startup has launched in the UK which offers a cost-effective way for mobile phone users to send photos to a large group of people at once, or to include on their blog.

The primary aim of the service is to allow anyone to snap a picture on their camera phone and send it, for the price of a single multimedia message, to their friends’ mobile phones. It also stores all the photos you’ve taken on your profile page.

However, it also includes the ability to embed a widget on your Facebook profile, or any web site where you can use the <EMBED> code — and that includes blogs.

Of course, the service isn’t unique — other photo blogging / moblogging sites already exist — but the mix of sending to a closed, but ultimately large, group of contacts as well as sharing online is an interesting one. It’s pretty cheap, too.

Over two thousand people are already using the site. Three-quarters of the UK population now own a camera phone, so the phenomenon of snapping photos on the move is only going to increase. As social networking and blogging also increase, services like NowThen will become ever more popular.

It’s early days for the service at present, but my initial tests suggest that it works fairly well. It takes a few minutes for photographs sent to the service to be available on your profile page, after which any widgets you’ve placed on a web page will update.

It’s not clear exactly how the service is going to be funded. Posting a photograph to a widget is of negligible cost (though scaled up there could be some significant hosting fees) but sending mobile messages to a large number of people, at no cost to the original sender, might be a harder one to sustain.

Perhaps limits will be imposed, a la Twitter. Concentrating on the moblogging aspect would certainly be cheaper and reach a huge audience.

Anyone in the UK who wants to give the service a go can visit, sign up and activate their phone, then start sending photos.

Nokia N95 mobile phone gets WordPress publishing application

Today sees the launch of a new blogging application for the Nokia N95 mobile phone. Developed by Telewaving, Wavelog is a native Symbian C++ application which will allow users to post to both and self-hosted WordPress blogs.

It’s able to upload text, images, audio, and video over any network connection. Alternatively, it can store pages ready for publication when a network signal isn’t available.

There’s not much more information about the software at present, but a free trial is available to download, with a license costing US$10, so it’s not likely to break the bank.

Product page

Nearly half of Americans creating own entertainment content, including blogs

The number of Americans creating their own online content to share with others is increasing, according to new survey figures.

Around 45% of those surveyed said that they regularly worked on their own web sites, blogs, photo albums, and music online, to share with everyone from family and friends, to peers, to total strangers.

Deloitte’s 2008 State of the Media Democracy marks a twelve point escalation from their Spring 2007 survey, and strongly suggests that such online activities are increasingly popular among more than just a niche of tech-savvy individuals.

“Mass digitization has created unheralded choice and desire for American consumers,” said Ed Moran, director of product innovation for Deloitte’s Technology, Media and Telecommunications group. “Now, more than ever, consumers have the independence to enjoy what they want, when they want it, and where they want it — but increasingly, they are also choosing to create content themselves, or re-working other people’s content.”

36% of respondents also viewed their mobile phone as an entertainment device, with it playing an increasingly important role not just in basic communications but also for photos, music, and games.

The continued move to mobile is likely to affect how and where blogs and other online media are both created and consumed.

The online survey was commissioned by Deloitte and conducted by Harrison Group, an independent research company, between October 25 and October 31, 2007. The survey polled 2,081 consumers between the ages of 13 and 75.

LG searches for European mobloggers to capture “style of Europe”

Consumer electronics company LG, who have recently started making great mobile phones, are currently running a competition in five European countries, trying to find the ten best mobloggers to capture images of people which best shows off the style of that particular country.

Mobile phone users in Germany, Spain, the UK, France, and the Netherlands, have been taking pictures and posting them, with a subject, to the City Clickers web site.

The ten people (two from each country) who snap the best photos will win a new LG Viewty phone, plus their bill paid for two months, and training on how best to use the phone.

It’s been running for a couple of weeks now, and closes at midnight CET on Sunday 25th November 2007. So you Europeans still have time to get out there this weekend and snap some stylish shots.

(Via Tech Digest)

Should you .mobi your blog?

I’ve been meaning to write something about the .mobi domain name for quite some time. Andrew over at the Web Publishing Blog beat me to it, but I’m not one to be taken aback by things like that. So .mobi is one of those fairly new domain names, meant for the mobile web of course.

It’s also stupid.

First things first. Four letter names suck. Sure, they spell out what it is, just like .com and .biz does, but do I want to have my users hammer out more letters on their mobile phones than is absolutely necessary? [Read more…]