Great New Moblogging App… As Long As You Use Blogger

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Sony Ericsson announced a slew of new phones yesterday, including the particularly drool-worthy K790i and K800i with their Cybershot-branded 3.2-megapixel cameras. But they’ve got some interesting software, too — a moblogging application that works with Google’s Blogger service. Assuming operators leave the application intact on the versions of the phones they sell, this could give moblogging yet another big boost.

That’s great; moblogging and photo-sharing is a wonderful application for cameraphones. But, like other blogging software from handset manufacturers we’ve seen before, it’s tied to a single blog provider. Which makes it great — if you have a Blogger site, and don’t use any of the other blogging or photo-sharing platforms out there. While it’s nice to see support for something other than carrier’s own systems, this is just a slightly different version. It’s an exclusive, rather than inclusive strategy. Obviously there’s some sort of commercial deal behind this, but this type of software should not only be more widely available, but support a wider range of platforms.

One topic we hit on a lot is the degree to which the mobile Internet should be a subset of the wired Internet, or something completely separate, or exactly the same thing, just on a smaller screen. I’ve argued that the answer is somewhere in the middle: I should be able to access just about anything I want from my mobile device, but there’s a huge need for mobile-driven applications developed with an understanding of the fundamental differences between mobile and fixed Internet use (and that doesn’t just mean screen size). But when it comes to things like blogging and social networking, the mobile tools need to be tightly integrated with the existing fixed services that people already use. If I’m a Flickr user, what I want is a mobile application that makes posting to Flickr easier, not something that will makes things easy only if I switch to Blogger. If I put my photos at MoblogUK, I want an application that makes using it better, not one that offers me improvements only if I switch to Typepad.

I’d imagine that in addition to commercial reasons, some might argue that these applications have to be developed to be tightly integrated with a particular service for technical reasons as well. I’m skeptical of that claim, though, given the number of blogging applications for the desktop that can support multiple platforms via the use of XML-RPC or other means.

So where does that leave us? We get applications tied to a single provider, and carriers are still trying to tie people into their own systems: just look at Sprint’s new Picture Mail Groups, which let users create online groups with which they can share photos. Again, this is kinda cool, but it can only be accessed from mobile phones if they’re on the Sprint network. This harkens back to the days when MMS interoperability was an issue, and was one of the reasons it stumbled so badly. I don’t know what network my friends are on, and I don’t care — so services need to be accessible from all of them.

Fortunately, there are independent providers trying to bridge this gap with more open solutions, like ShoZu. Another platform-agnostic service, Netomat, announced today that it can now work with Flickr to send newly uploaded photos from groups to mobile devices, optimized for their displays. While it doesn’t look like Netomat can upload photos to Flickr at this point, its integration with it and the ease with which it lets people share information from all different types of online sources via mobile devices shows the kind of mobile/fixed integration that’s needed.

We’ve already chosen the services with which we want to share our experiences and media and interact with our friends and other people; our mobile tools should support them, and add to them — not force us to give them up.

[tags]sony ericsson, google, blogger, moblogging, shozu, netomat, lifeblog, flickr, mobloguk[/tags]

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