December 19th, 2007

Mobile Widgets & Zumobi/Zenzui

I’ve been trialing the beta version of Zumobi’s new application. I highlighted them in a piece of research this year on why cell phones (well, consumers really) could use a companion for their cell phone browsers. One of the basic ideas in the report is that it’s difficult if not impossible to squeeze a desktop type experience onto a small screen. Wireless devices (esp. cellular wireless) with small screens would do better with content optimized for them. Zumobi does this.

The distribution is online today – you can download the beta application from their site. It prepopulates your application with a few “tiles” (what I would call a widget by which I mean fairly simple, single purpose application) and then directs you to their online site to browse for more. There are/will be viral components as well that allow you to share applications.

I really like the “tile” layout b/c it leverages the 12-digit numeric keypad that most phones have for navigation which makes using the application fairly intuitive. Zooming in/out is easy. Content is formatted for the small screen.

Despite this being a cell phone application, one of my favorite parts was the website. Very easy to add “tiles” to your library – one click to send. Browsing was easy. I can’t tell you how many times someone directs me to Facebook or elsewhere with the task of finding their widget – there are 600+ mobile apps, for example, on Facebook – not that many and I still can’t find half the stuff I’m looking for. Zumobi’s site – with 80 some “tiles” at beta launch was easy to sort through.

Once you selected a tile and sent it to your phone, you could find it in the inbox and place it on your grid. Having the ability to select “tiles” is important as the top 16 content categories won’t be the same for all of us.

The ease of zooming in/out will help drive page views/inventory. Ease of use is one of the more significant barriers to adoption of information services on cell phones by consumers. Applications like Zumobi have the potential to make a real impact not only on consumer adoption of information/IP services on their cell phones, but to drive usage as well.

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