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January 13, 2006

Another Forrester take on Google Personalized Home for Mobile


By Charlene Li

My colleague, Charlie Golvin, covers the consumer wireless space and participated in the Google Personalzied Home for mobile briefing with me today. He offers the following thoughts on the service and asks for your thoughts as well:.

The mobile Internet is a different experience from the PC Internet — as it should be. The applications tend to fall into one of two categories:

  • Information with a short half life (think stock alert or ebay outbid notice);
  • Time killers (think Tetris or a 3 minute Daily Show clip).

Google looks to have done a good job of addressing some of the shortcomings in the first category, because your personalized home page — configured on your desktop, not your phone — is something you can arrange to have the resources that provide the information you know you’re likely to need when you’re on the go (like Charlene’s RSS feed). And also because they’ve streamlined the delivery of that information, ensuring that the delay between clicking on Google and getting the information you want is as short as possible (to the extent they can influence that).

Finally, they’ve chosen the platform that allows them to reach as many consumers as possible with the lowest barrier — xHTML browsers. This last point is in stark contrast to Yahoo!, which is limited to some Nokia Series 60 devices today and requires a somewhat convoluted download and installation process on some of them (like my 7610). Down the road Yahoo! will bear much higher development costs to reach their broad audience.

But will it make a difference? Will Yahoo! or MSN loyalists who have invested in personalizing their experience invest time in doing likewise at Google because the resultant mobile experience is so much better? I think the answer is no — for the real loyalists. But for those whose investment is lower and who don’t mind doing a quick setup of a personal page in order to make the mobile Internet more useful, sure. Charlene’s willing to do it just to get her RSS feeds more efficiently, but my use will be more of a flirtation before I go back to Yahoo! What do you think?


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» Forrester? from This is Mobility
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David Kaufman

I agree with some of Charlie and Charlene's comments for specific reasons.

After reading Charlene's comments on Google's personalized home web page for my mobile device (Treo 650) - I went over to my Google home page and started to reconfigure all of my options. What I found myself doing was making all kinds of edits and cuts so that only the information I need most desparately when I am on the road will appear on my tiny Treo 650 screen and come down to the device within the short side of a minute or two (argh!). I think speed and delivery of critical content given my environment (Maps-Directions-late breaking news-stock or e-bay bids) is all I really want to see on the run while at the lunch counter or on the bus - ie. wherever I am when not near a desk or laptop friendly environment.

I think you both have great points and I am sure others out there have tried to make this concept work for their requirements. After about 5 minutes of toying with my home page and neutering it to the degree necessary for my mobile experience -- it is not really a fun desktop experience any longer... perhaps I have thrown out the baby with the bathwater here?

Charlene Li

Such a good point David! I imagine that there needs to be a configuration for the desktop and another for the mobile situation. It's almost like having a separate OPML file of my feeds for different situations or topics, just one for my start page information.

Scott Rafer

Mike Rowehl's post ( http://www.thisismobility.com/blog/?p=79 ) is a bit vociferous, but largely on the mark. The under-25 demographic that is beginning to show mainstream (vs. silicon valley, wall street, and beltway) use of mobile data use just wants their applications to work. They want as many of the differences between PC use and mobile use as practical to vanish. It's their brain and the Internet, with as few new things to learn in between as possible. Exploit the mobile platform for the few extra things it's wonderful for, and leave the rest alone.

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