You are on page 1of 11

BREAKING NEWS: UK consumer confidence hits all-time low

Mobile Entertainment Mobile


RSS Feed

The truth about transcoding

Sham Careem - MD, MoMac UK

Dec 5

Moves by some operators and others to transcode web sites to mobile might promise to put the web in the
hand, but they can play havoc with developers’ hard work...

Depending on your viewpoint, the arrival of the iPhone either heralds a new era in making the internet truly
mobile, or simply creates another closed environment for content transactions, controlled by the Apple
mega brand. While the latter is true, the former is less so.

You see, although many phones now come with browsers that can view full internet pages, some operators
are using so-called ‘transcoding’ solutions that automatically re-format web sites so they display ‘properly’
on handheld devices. While the technology is great for mobile users who want access to the web from more
basic devices that are unable to render sites in their full glory, it’s ruining many a mobile content provider’s

The true open mobile internet should give consumers the power to interact with compelling sites that
complement the uniqueness of the mobile proposition. The fact is the iPhone and web-enabled devices like
it are hitting the market at a time when a host of conditions are coming together to make mobile, truly, the
fourth screen (after cinema, TV and PC).

Widespread 3G penetration, better search and discovery applications and flat rate data pricing plans are all
making it possible for any brand to ‘talk’ directly to its audience via the medium of mobile. With the ‘bill-
shock’ factor removed, users will be liberated to experiment and consume the new mobile internet services
on offer.

In addition, other barriers are being removed: cross-operator WAP billing solutions are emerging, giving
mobile users a one-click payment option for off-deck content.

The mobile internet is becoming a market in its own right, both in terms of size and value. What now lies
before us is a credible channel for media companies, brands and publishers. Happily, mass-market media
companies from magazine and newspaper publishers, social networks, broadcasters to mainstream media
owners are entering the market.

This is all great stuff, but in terms of usability, it’s not sufficient to rely on transcoding technologies that
change and re-render an exisiting internet site for a mobile phone display. Crucially, re-formatting sites
using this method masks the ‘user-agent’.

What’s a user agent? In basic terms it’s a piece of code that any web-enabled device transmits to identify
itself when attempting to access a web page. It’s like a virtual handshake. Once the visitor has been
indentified the server can then offer up the correct and optimised content, whether its for an Internet
Explorer or Firefox broswer being used on a desktop computer or an Opera broswer in a mobile phone.

Transcoding is therefore causing a big headache for companies that have gone to the time and trouble of
creating versions of their websites – if their servers can’t read the user agent, then the mobile page won’t be
served up to the user.

Herein lies the problem: a transcoded page can be a mess (just visit CNN or WSJ on a transcoded site)
delivering roughly chopped-up sites and cluttered mobile pages. What is really hard to understand is why
operators would adopt such an approach. It simply alienates the mobile developer community and spoils
the efforts of companies that have created good mobile versions of their web sites.

If a brand intends to integrate its mobile offering with a cross-platform digital strategy, it will need to
develop a fully a functional mobile internet site with a quick, intuitive and made-for-mobile user interface.
MoMac is already working with companies like EMAP, ITV, Ministry of Sound and even the Mobo Awards
to foster mobile interactivity, advertising and even m-commerce via integration with Pay Pal.

With so many of the real barriers to usage being removed, the open mobile internet is finally arriving. It
would be a shame to spoil things now with short-sighted technical approaches that comprimise the all-
important user experience.

• Email a friend

Previous Article Next Article

Other Features

• The Pocket Internet: What does it mean for mobile content?

Jul 30

• Ringtone rip-offs: Where does D2C go now?

Jul 29

• The future of mobile advertising, Part Three

Jul 28

• The future of mobile advertising, Part Two

Jul 14

• The future of mobile advertising, Part One

Jul 10

• ME's Top 50 women in mobile content

Jul 04
• Time to address D2C content abuses

Jul 01

• What are the implications of the Symbian Foundation?

Jun 24

• Interview: Lewis McDonald talks to ME

Jun 23

• ROUNDTABLE: One year on, what has been iPhone's impact?

Jun 10

• The ultimate entertainment handset?

Jun 03

• How to unleash developer creativity on the mobile web

May 28

• How Guitar Hero went mobile

May 23

• Do mobile consumers have too much choice?

May 15

• How can we improve mobile user experience?

May 12

• The times of India

May 07

• Mobile content - experience urgently required

May 06

• Let's make mobile games pricing more flexible

May 06

• Why we launched

May 01

• What do mobile games and Phil Collins have in common?

Apr 28

• The best tool for promoting content? Social networks

Apr 21

• How sharing could be the key to better ARPU

Apr 17

• Getting the market ready for video

Apr 11

• Why is mobile content a magnet for venture capital?

Apr 08

• Motorola brand - which way now?

Mar 27

• US spectrum auction - the winners and losers

Mar 26

• For better adult mobile sales, think Tesco

Mar 20

• What does the EC's decision to endorse DVB-H really mean?

Mar 18

• Does the British mobile content industry punch above its weight?

Mar 16

• Mobile advertising: the opportunity and the danger

Mar 10

• Can mobile boost the big social networks?

Mar 06
• Defining the mobile user experience

Mar 03

• Can C++ save mobile gaming?

Feb 25

• The secrets of a mobile games localiser...

Feb 18

• INTERVIEW: Javier Pérez Dolset - CEO, Zed

Feb 08

• INTERVIEW: Luca Pagano - UK MD, Buongiorno

Feb 07

• The mobile video paradox

Feb 05

• Microsoft/Yahoo: mobile could be the icing on the cake

Feb 04

• Outsourcing games portals - good news for all

Feb 01

• How to succeed with sideloading

Jan 25

• Mobile Video - it's all about the UE

Jan 22

• INTERVIEW: Anssi Vanjoki - EVP of multimedia, Nokia

Jan 18

• What are you on? About.

Jan 14

• What lies ahead in 2008?

Jan 09

• Let messaging drive the mobile internet

Dec 18

• Some ancient wisdom from carriers, please?

Nov 08

• What happened to the Chinese D2C market?

Nov 08

• What's Google's real agenda?

Nov 05

• Mobile advertising’s lack of transparency

Nov 01

• Which way for US now?

Oct 19

• INTERVIEW: Javier Perez Dolset - CEO, Zed

Oct 17

• No show at the showcase

Sep 06


Sep 06

• The challenges of the UK content market

Sep 06

• INTERVIEW: Peter Mercier - Head of Mobile, BBC Worldwide

Sep 06

• Where are we going?

Sep 06
• Adult ready to grow up

Sep 06

• All to pay for

Sep 06

• INTERVIEW: Anthony Douglas - Head of Games, O2

Aug 09

• Have it your way

Aug 09

• Location aware

Aug 09

• INTERVIEW: Ashu Mathura

Aug 09

• Embedded advertising

Jul 05

• How to improve your mobile website

Jul 05

• INTERVIEW: Gautum Sabharwal

Jul 05

• Jamba grows up

Jul 05

Saxon House
6a St. Andrew Street
SG14 1JA

+44 (0) 1992 535 646

+44 (0) 1992 535 647

+44 (0) 1580 883 848

+44 (0) 1992 535 648

Mobile Entertainment

About us

Mobile Entertainment is the leading community site for all professionals working within the international
mobile content industry. We bring you the latest news, views and analysis from this fast moving
entertainment sector, complementing our flagship monthly printed magazine and specialist events.

• Google News UK
• Yahoo! News UK & Ireland

Intent Media

Company Number: 03641099

• CasualGaming
• Develop
• PC Retail
• Toy News
• Licensing Industry
• Bike Biz
• MI Pro
• Audio Pro

• © Intent Media 2008

• Privacy Policy
• Terms and Conditions
• Accessibility
• Top of the page
• Evolving Media

• Site Map
• News Sitemap