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APPLICATIONS ON THE MOVE

By Yuszela Yusoff, BuzzCity Manager, Content & Community

“It isn’t what the phone does, so much as what is being done with the phone that has led us to Mobile 2.0.”
— Oliver Starr, Mobhappy, “Mobile 2.0 is NOT Web 2.0”

As the head of BuzzCity’s Content & Community team, my job is to conceptualise, test and roll out new features that enrich the lives of the mobile community and individual users. Since the start of the year, we’ve been concentrating on applications that provide information and make life easier. Here are a few examples:

1. WEATHER. Courtesy of The Weather Channel, myGamma users can now access up-to-date information on current weather conditions plus multi-day forecasts for cities around the world. Users can personalise their landing page so it immediately provides the forecast of their hometown.

2. DICTIONARY. Princeton University professors have developed an innovative database of the English language called WordNet. We’ve licensed the application and made it available to mobile users.

3. LINKS. We’ve created “myGamma Exchange,” a WAP directory that makes it easy for users to swap links and drive new traffic to their mobile websites. The more hits that a site brings to a ranking, the higher its position in the directory. Several of our partners – including mobile sites like Beampub (dating and chat), Dream3r (sexy and funny videos) and GameJump (ad-supported gaming) – have found that this tool generates an additional 800 hits per day. And one company wrote to tell us that the link exchange has created new markets for its business by driving traffic from “unchartered territories”, places like Kenya and Saudi Arabia.

4. CLASSIFIEDS. myGamma members can make postings for free. You don’t have to be a myGamma member though to view the ads. In India, personals are the most popular type of ad. In Nigeria, myGamma members use the service to look for work. Each posting stays online for two weeks.

More practical features are on the way, including a translation service, bus routes (how long until the next bus arrives) and stock alerts.

Our applications rest on a server, but other developers are producing mobile “widgets” that a user can download directly to a mobile phone. Mobio makes widgets that allow users to buy movie tickets, find out information about concerts and clubs, book restaurant reservations and view maps.

The downside to widgets is two-fold: (1) it’s difficult (sometimes impossible) to develop programmes that run across platforms on all types of phones and (2) widgets require space and a lot of phones don’t have enough storage.

Regardless of the delivery mechanism, I find it useful to keep a few simple rules in mind when developing and deploying the next generation of mobile applications:

1. Add Value. Are we providing a service that improves the lives of our users?
2. Make sure it’s easy to use.
3. Enable Personalisation.

In addition, each market has its own characteristics. For example, while Indians furiously surf mobile sports sites to retrieve the latest cricket scores, the British like a WAP service called “Transport for London” to check if there are any tube disruptions on their way home from work.

As Kok Fung wrote in his last entry, we believe that two areas will drive the uptake of the mobile internet: practical applications like the ones above and fantasy games. We’re in the process of developing a massive multi-player online role-playing game (MMORG), but that’s a topic for another day.

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Categories: myGamma, Yuszela Yusoff
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