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Microsoft Launches New Design for MSN Mobile

Reuters is reporting a redesign for Microsoft’s MSN for mobile phones.

Microsoft’s new MSN Mobile portal — — offers news, sports information, entertainment features and access to services like e-mail, search, maps and instant messaging all on one page.

When a user accesses the portal, the MSN platform detects the handset and optimizes the site for that device, adjusting things like font sizes for different screens.

Having recently switched to the Blackberry 8830, I’ve found new enjoyment in using my cell phone for mobile apps. While on Oahu, I’ve used it to look up restaurants, find driving directions and even used Google Maps to locate secret filming locations for Lost. There’s no doubt that with the upcoming iPhone about to ignite the mobile browser, 2007 continues to shape-up as the year mobile content finally makes its way towards mainstream.

Jobs More Than Teasing Mobile Developers

In his opening keynote at Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference on Monday (June 11), Steve Jobs teased open the Web 2.0 door to mobile developers (with the safety chain well and truly left on!), revealing a slim ray of light from Apple’s impending smartphone sunrise on June 29, by announcing that mobile developers will be part of the success story.

Apple has been criticized by the mobile development community for refusing third-party access to the iPhone – unlike Windows Mobile from Microsoft, which provides application programming interfaces to developers – arguing that the best strategy to maintain security and high performance is to keep tight control over the iPhone’s OS.

But moments later Jobs halts the door from swinging wide open – confirming Apple’s strategy for third-party software on the smartphone will be based mainly on Apple’s Safari Web Browser and not so much on its native operating system.

The Latest in Mobile Marketing Efforts

More big brands are working on campaigns targeted to mobile users. Sprite is premiering a mobile social network, called the Sprite Yard. In fact, they launched last week in China, with the US debut planned for June 22.

The mobile social network enables its users to share photos, calendars, messages and discussions with other users. MediaPost mentions another feature:

At the Sprite Yard, users will also have access to “Nuggets” of exclusive downloadable content, from mobisodes (short animated and video content created by Coca-Cola and other media partners) to ringtones. The branding tie-in is designed to drive sales as well as engagement, as content can only be unlocked by using a PIN found under Sprite bottle caps.

Mobile Metering To Follow ?

Nielsen, the king of audience measurement and the company Search Marketers have come to be autonomous with Search Share Rankings, have split their initiative Nielsen Wireless away from its sister service Nielsen Games in an effort to push forward the tracking of mobile phone users beyond media measurement – in particular to investigate the usage of mobile content services.

Mobile Vector, the venture’s first product, will segment existing TV metering by wireless carrier using ‘in the home’ media behaviour. The objective will be to give brands and agencies insights that were previously unavailable. (Full report expected July 2007)

Interesting information is already emerging – including viewing preferences:

  • more than half of primary users of video-enabled mobile phones lived in households with total incomes of $75,000 or above

Mobile Search Fueling US Growth

Mobile technology bridge, Bango, claims that it can provide a unique insight into mobile web usage – measuring the number of user visits to mobile websites from each country.

Latest statistics show a three-fold increase in usage across the US during the last 12 months. Interestingly Bango have indicated that this is a direct result of users hunting down new content and services using mobile search platforms. By April 2007 over 20% of US mobile users were accessing the web – rapidly catching the UK at 27% and overtaking South Africa and India.

Anil Malhotra, SVP of Marketing at Bango, confirms that flat-rate data charges will also play a major role in the growth of mobile web usage.

iPhone May Present New Mobile Design Challenges

Only 25 days to go til the iPhone is available! I’m excited about the launch of this new Apple product not because I’m an Apple junkie, but rather I truly believe that the iPhone’s design may help increase mobile web usage in the U.S. However, it may also create a slight challenge for web designers — how do you design for this new hardware?

Until now, most of us have been restrained to the micro screens of the Treo and Blackberry when accessing websites via our mobile phones. While some website owners have begun to prepare for the mobile web and have created specially-designed mobile versions of their website, others have not, making many web searches frustrating as users attempt to view an 800×600 website design on a tiny 168×168 pixel screen (approximately). But the iPhone is poised to change all of that.

Where Next for Mobile Music?

By Paul Bennett

According to a study conducted in February 2007 by Arbitron/Telephia nearly 90% of mobile audio listeners think that advertising is “a fair price to pay” for free or subsidized content.

eMarketer has used the ‘Mobile Audio Media Study’ as part of a new report to investigate key questions like the potential size of the mobile music opportunity and the potential wild cards that marketers need to understand.
Senior Analyst, John du Pre Gauntt says,

“… a surprising level of receptivity to ad-supported content make(s) it difficult to declare the precise direction of (the) mobile music market.”

The report entitled ‘Mobile Music: Mixing It Up‘ also discusses mobile music sponsorship and how it could meet the music industry’s overall need for recording revenue alternatives.