I'm intrigued as to the level of integration that Motorola and Yahoo! are going to achieve with their bundling deal. As far as I could tell Yahoo’s original offering was a vast bloated wrapper for a bunch of stuff the phone could already do better in the native UI, which may have been useful if you were a Series 60 user who used Yahoo! Mail and remembered not to install the app OTA. Why Series 60? The creator of Series 60 is head of mobile at Yahoo! and he has obviously been busy passing round the kool aid, suggesting that limiting your potential market to ~4% of the handsets out there is a credible business strategy - any day now, the other 96% will see the light and everything will be fine! Given how little they’ve achieved in mobile I was wondering how long he was going to stay in charge, but I guess the Moto deal is a big thing.
So back to the original question – what level of integration? I’m going to assume that Moto haven’t undergone a sudden conversion to Series 60, and Mobiledia just pasted an S60 screenshot onto a Moto shell because the app currently doesn’t run on anything else. Presumably then we have two options – they’re going to bundle the app in some form as a Midlet on a bunch of devices, or they are going to go for a little more integration with their new platform. Bundling the Midlet would be useless on two counts:
1) The steps to run a midlet are just too cumbersome to make use of most of the functions Yahoo! want to offer, and the integration is just not good enough. Running the midlet for phone functions is a pain and it can't run automatically/in the background so they'll just do stuff in the native UI and forget about it.
2) Motorola phones are a bitch to set up for networking through Java, and most operators just don’t supply the right settings so the user will click on the app maybe once, realize it doesn’t work, and never look at it again.
So we have to hope there is some greater integration with the rumoured new UI they are developing, if this deal is to achieve anything. Given that one of the stated aims of the Yahoo/Moto global alliance was to make internet browsing on Moto phones a better experience, this might finally be a sign that they’re addressing the hideous settings issues etc which would be a bonus for everyone. I’m not going to hold my breath though.
I never found time to blog on Yahoo’s other great mobile product, the world cup Midlet they pushed out. I tried it on a Sony-Ericsson K600i, which I’ve found is one of the fastest and most robust Java phones out there. My experience went a little like this:
1) Install very large app.
2) App syncs with server for 30 seconds.
3) App displays broken(?) countdown to something non-specific which was many months away (this was during the first round).
4) App syncs with server again.
5) Very nice looking menu appears. Try to move through menu. 1-3 second time lag on all keypresses makes menu highly frustrating.
6) Manage to move to another screen. Time lag persists.
7) Turn app off after 2 minutes (most of which spent syncing with server), uninstall.
I can’t wholly blame Yahoo! for this because they actually bought it from Everypoint; Yahoo! seem fairly incapable of actually achieving much useful in-house dev. Possibly it worked like a dream on the other handful of phones supported, but if they can’t do something slick with $14m VC funding and a jar that big on the K600 they have no clue what they’re doing.