Mobile Monday Munich

Last night saw a great MoMoMu, although sadly attendance was down on usual – probably something to do with the Oktoberfest madness.

We had three really interesting speakers and if you didn’t come, you missed some very valuable learnings. I will ask them for their presentations and if so, will make them available for download.

Steve Ives, CEO and Founder of Taptu was first on, telling us all about mobile search and the key differences between mobile and desktop. And there are key differences, which is why it’s possible for a little startup to compete with the mighty Goog, get funding and a lot of traction so far.

Today, mobile search is still pretty small – about 50 times smaller than desktop. Entertainment is the most searched-after category and one that tends to be a focus for Taptu, who use a mixture of algorithms and human-powered search results to ensure that the experience is optimised for mobile. Only about 5% of searches have a location-based element to them, but Steve thinks that people tend to prefer a map interface for this kind of thing.

Steve also has the theory (based on long experience as a Mobilist) that the tipping point for mobile search will come when the user experience is 30 seconds or less. Currently, we’re down to about 37 seconds, so stand back and watch things take off.

Next, we had Scott Beaumont, Founder of Mippin by Refresh Mobile. Mippin used to be called Mobizines and was a downloadable Java application, allowing consumers to experience their favourite magazines on their phone. In Scott’s words, Mobizines was “beautiful” – and it really was a great product. But no matter what they tried, it didn’t get traction.

In May thislast year, the team made a very brave and undoubtedly painful decision to re-engineer the product completely, abandon client applications and embrace the mobile web. This also entailed downsizing the company at the same time.

Scott shared the lessons they had learned and the many advantages offered by the new modus operandi, including shorter production cycles written by far fewer staff, which has to be pretty compelling in its own right.

I originally reviewed Mobizines here at MobHappy, back in March 2006. Interestingly, I predicted that they’d end up using a mobile web model, despite being a great product at the time, from a mobile geek perspective. You can also see MobHappy on Mippin, by following the links on the left.

But the biggest reminder for me was that Sun, via their execution of Java, is probably more responsible for retarded innovation in mobile than any other company. Scott’s whole demeanor was of a man finally free of the prison that had so tightly incarcerated his company for so long.

Obviously, there are some instances where a client app is the only way to go. But if it is, I’d strongly recommend looking at an alternative business model. It does remain to be seen what the current spate of Apps Stores, inspired by the iPhone have on this sector, although it’s still going to be difficult to stand out in what is already a crowded marketplace.

The final presentation from from my AdMob colleague, Andy Smith. Andy talked about the (relatively) new, free Analytics product that’s winning wide praise, as it allows both publishers and advertisers to understand a whole bunch more about how consumers behave when visiting their sites (publishers) and how they respond to their campaigns (advertisers). He also had a great video showing off AdMob’s iPhone ad formats that I’ve written about before.

AdMob is still relatively small in the German market – which is pretty small anyway in comparison to say, the UK. But there are signs of increasing use of the Mobile Web here and AdMob is there to help publishers make money and for advertisers to produce great campaigns.

Thank you to all who came. If you didn’t, you missed out – and if you registered and didn’t turn up, I highly recommend starting a Java based client for mobiles, as this would be a sweet revenge 🙂

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