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  • Writer's pictureSlashData Team

On-Device Portals: Here to Stay

I ‘ve written before about on-device portals (ODPs) – it’s essentially device software that delivers offline browsing, storefront and homescreen replacement functionality. Whereas before it was a space to watch, ODP is now an adopted industry term and a vibrant market that’s here to stay.

Quick round up of the market The ODP market was first analysed in a January 2006 ARCchart research paper which also coined the term – as the lead author of that report, I have since been watching the space closely.

There are now 25 or more vendors of ODP products: Abaxia, Action Engine, Airmedia, Cibenix, Communology, Comverse, Crisp Wireless, Everypoint, Geniem, Macromedia (FlashCast), Handmark (Pocket Express), InFusio (nMap), mPortal, MSX, Nellymoser, Nokia, OnSkreen, Opera Platform & Mini, Picsel, Qualcomm (uiOne), RefreshMobile, Silk, Streamezzo, SurfKitchen, U-Turn and Volantis. The term ODP has now been adopted by Nokia, SurfKitchen and Cibenix. It’s good to see a term that you ‘ve coined become adopted (although it can become abused for self-promotion, too).

Nokia, Airmedia, mPortal, Everypoint, Volantis and Picsel are vendors that have popped onto the ODP radar in the recent months.

Nokia Content Discoverer In June 2006, Nokia announced the Content Discoverer (NCD) on-device portal solution, as the evolution of, and successor to, Nokia’s Preminet. Content Discoverer is currently embedded in millions of Nokia devices based on S60 and Series 40, including the Nseries multimedia devices, Eseries devices for enterprise users, Nokia 3250 and 6131 devices, and to-be-embedded on six more handsets by end 2006.

Nokia dropped the Preminet back-end and instead integrated NCD with several service delivery solution providers, incl. Handango, Jamster, End2End, Plus Four Six and Qpass. Nokia has also established content aggregation agreements with eight local content aggregators. It’s worth noting that NCD features a portal-based view of content catalogues, rather than search-based views, to avoid disintermediation of content retailer portals.

Vendor update: Airmedia, mPortal, Everypoint, Volantis, Picsel, InFusio Airmedia channels content to BREW, Java and FlashLite-capable devices using on-device portal products. Troy Evans, Macromedia’s FlashLite guru stopped briefly at Airmedia before going to Nokia as a Sr Manager, Branded Content.

mPortal is an MVNO-focused ODP vendor that is targeting the US market and counts Disney and ESPN among its customers – another unique positioning among ODP vendors. Interestingly, according to an investor report, mPortal is looking towards MVNEs, chipset manufacturers, and device manufacturers as potential acquirers.

Everypoint is an ODP vendor that specialises in the delivery of real-time sports content onto mobile devices. Everypoint developed Yahoo’s Mobile Matchcast application, an ODP application with sports content for the World Cup in Germany. MatchCast is a MIDP2 application available as a free download in 12 countries and 7 languages. Check out the screenshots here.

Everypoint claims several selling points such as a home-grown vector-graphics engine, incremental, fast data updates and rapid application development. The Boston-based company has so far received $14M in VC investment from Venrock Associates, Prism Venture Partners and TD Capital Ventures. Everypoint’s closest competitor is Streamezzo, with the difference being that Everypoint focuses on real-time data delivery, while Streamezzo focuses on real-time video delivery.

Volantis is a vendor of mobile content delivery platforms that recently launched two ODP products (Content Storefront and Content Player). Picsel is a Glasgow-based company that is planning to spin off its office document viewer into an ODP product for magazine publishers. Essentially, this is another uniquely positioning ODP product, targetting magazine publishers and addressing ease of use for publishers. Picsel claims they ‘ll have the solution live by the end of summer 2006. Finally, InFusio’s nMap is a repackaged Geniem Superstore ODP product which will feature on the ELLE Glamphone uniquely customised handsets in 4Q06.

Deals and partnerships Quick update on the deals that I have come across in the last few months in the ODP market:

  1. In February Vodafone K.K. announced that its Live! Cast product will launch in Japan (following its launch in Germany last year). The service will be pre-installed on NEC and Toshiba handsets and will feature three content magazines targeted at 25-35 old males.

  2. Adobe announced that more than two million mobile phone subscribers have signed up for DoCoMo’s i-channel news and information delivery service since it was launched in Japan last September (i-channel is powered by FlashCast).

  3. Refresh Mobile customer base has expanded to ITV, BBC, Conde Nast, Shiny Media, AFP (Mumbai)

  4. OnSkreen’s Fusion feature set now mobile search for movie times, stocks and sports scores and the web.

  5. UIEvolution developed the application environment and ODP application that powers Mobile ESPN’s MVP and ACE’s handsets

  6. Comverse announced that it will resell SurfKitchen products

  7. Cibenix announced a combined solution with Sybase mFolio

  8. July Systems announced it is partnering with SurfKitchen to extend its content retailing channels with on-device storefronts.

Yahoo’s big bet: beyond the browser The market of on-device portals is certain to grow aggressively. This is not only forecasted by ARCchart and indicated by Nokia’s Content Discovery deployment plans, but also hinted by Yahoo at their presentation at their Analyst Day in May. One of Yahoo’s big bets for the next 5 years is titled ‘beyond the browser’ – they see their Yahoo! Go product providing a range of features including integrated mail, integrated contacts, calendar, messenger, photos, search, news and information. This is ODP on steroids.

Some Yahoo! facts:

  1. Yahoo! has over 50 mobile partnerships worldwide

  2. Yahoo! Go Mobile will support over 50% of Java handsets launched in the next 18 months

  3. RIM partnership enables Y! distribution across 160 carriers worldwide

  4. Partnered with Nokia, the largest handset manufacturer in the world

  5. Partnership to bring Y! services to millions of Motorola Linux-based mobile devices

Trends in the ODP market So where is the ODP market heading? There are several clear trends. Firstly,ODP products will morph into on-device search portals, as ordinary content portals are disintermediated by search engines. Secondl ODPs will extend into an Electronic Service Guide for all mobile media, incl. TV, irrespective of format. This is where Streamezzo is taking their client and O2 UK certainly seems to agree, based on their presentation at the World Handset Forum in May.

I have little doubt that ODPs will be featuring on every high-end handset (and several mid-end handsets) by the end of 2007.

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