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Frequently Asked Questions

Why non voice services are so important for the mobile industry?
What are the current non voice mobiles services?
Are widgets really adapted for mobile phones?
Are PCs and mobile phones really different?
Are mobile Web/Wap browsers acceptable for widgets?
Is Java adapted for mobile widgets?
What is the ViaMobility positioning?
What is "Me2"?
Is Me2 able to play widgets from Google, Yahoo, Microsoft or Apple?
Is Me2 really innovative?
What is the ViaMobility business model? B2B or B2C?
Is ViaMobility familiar with handsets manufacturers?
How ViaMobility is contributing to service discovery and adoption?
What are the Me2 benefits for mobile operators?
What are the Me2 benefits for widgets editors?

Q: Why non voice services are so important for the mobile industry?
A: 3.25 billions, here is the world wide mobile subscribers number by end of 2007, about 50 % of the world population, and a 25 % annual growth. It is a tremendous market, mainly turned towards voice traffic which represents more than 85 % of operators’ revenue. Due to the high level of the competition in mature countries, Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) is slowly decreasing. It’s an absolute necessity for mobile operators to offer new services, other than raw voice, in order to balance voice revenue erosion.

Q: What are the current non voice mobiles services?
A: Many companies came to enrich the mobile service offer, mainly portals and Wap services. In the embedded software field, some focused on advanced user interfaces (Abaxia, DIGITAL Airways, UiOne, Onskreen) or services presentation (Adobe - Flash Lite-, BlueStreak, Streamezzo). Others developed an easy access to contents with “One Device Portals” (Surfing Kitchen, MSX, Yahoo Go!) or provide building blocks like Web/Wap browser (Access, Openwave) or Java virtual machine (Esmertec, TI, Philips).

Q: Are widgets really adapted for mobile phones?
A: Last arrived in this universe: widgets. Directly coming from the Net, initially designed for desktops, very easy to develop and distribute over the Web, widgets are very well adapted to mobile phones. They are small and thus compatible with the phone screen size, they aim often to inform in a glance therefore perfectly coherent with the mobile phones usage, and they are light what is in conformity with embedded devices memory requirements. Inherited from the Web, where more than 15.000 widgets are already available, they come with their favorite business models: adds (cf Ads Gadget from Google, AdSense based advertising over widgets), sponsoring or merchant sites. It is obvious that a large part of the 11 billion dollars coming from mobile advertising in 2011 will pass through widgets.

Q: Are PCs and mobile phones really different?
A: Mobile widgets market is very attractive, especially for Web which see an opportunity of quadrupling the total accessible market. But there is a major difference: the Web, at the client side, is federated by almost one operating system - Microsoft Windows, when the mobile world is highly fragmented. Moreover, it is a violent cultural shock and a return towards the past: development tools, applications size, limited memory, battery consumption, none or limited multi-tasking, no mouse, etc. To get around these constraints, phone OS complexity and interoperability, two solutions seem to be usable: Web/Wap phone browser and Java MIDP environment.

Q: Are mobile Web/Wap browsers acceptable for widgets?
A: It is useless to compare a PC Web browser with a mobile Web browser: on mobiles only basic navigation features are supported, but, except on some smartphones, all advanced features of PC world are not implemented: plug-ins, CSS, Javascript, Ajax, etc. The reasons of this poverty are once again related to the complexity and the heterogeneity of the mobile environments. It has to be said that mobile phone browser actors are not the same as for the PC world (Openwave, Access vs Microsoft, Mozilla, Netscape).Using embedded browser in order to execute widgets is dramatically limited in functionalities: no page refresh, no mobile desktop (Idle Screen) access, no mobile specific features access, etc.

Q: Is Java adapted for mobile widgets?
A: The Java virtual machine is a more interesting candidate but also very limited compared to what is expected for widgets.

  • It is an application as another: each instance is running in an exclusive way, which has two consequences: no application switching, ie. no chance to send an SMS while looking at your Agenda widget or to place a call while looking at the the championship real-time results. To launch these services (SMS, calls, PIM, etc), the user will initially have to quit java application, place his call, and then return into the application, with an average of 8 key press and 10 seconds latency. This is not compatible with the “always one” behavior expected by widget users.

  • No mobile desktop (idle screen) access. Java widget player would not be able to remain active on the phone desktop while leaving the user free to use his mobile. In order to use the other mobile phone features, it will be necessary to first end the Java application, use the requested features and restart the Java based application later on.

  • Java applications are not truly interoperable. When Sun introduced Java, the statement was “Write-once-run-everywhere”. On mobile, that has been transformed into “Write-ounce-test-everywhere”. Sun chose to not impose some important features in the core of Java and to let the editors and manufacturers free to implement them, sometimes even partially. The result is that the “java” label, even with the version number and the list of supported extensions (JSR), rarely guarantee that an application will run on a given mobile. It’s even worse, it will often be necessary to re-develop or adapt the code to make it compatible. It will be the same with a Java based widget player: the widgets will not perform the same way according to the handset, and some will not work at all, leaving the user probably very disappointed.

  • The Java environments on mobile were developed initially for games and they haven’t been optimized in terms of battery consumption. Letting run permanently a Java application will considerably reduce the battery life time.

Q: What is the ViaMobility positioning?
A: Let's analyze what's allowed the emergence of Wap and Java on mobile phones. Answer is specialized companies, deeply integrated in the mobile, which took into consideration the market heterogeneity and designed an embedded software platform to meet these specific needs. It is the exact positioning of Viamobility for the mobile widgets market: Propose an execution environment deeply anchored in the mobile, in connection with handsets manufacturers, and specifically designed to face the widgets rendering and usage problematic on mobile phones. On contrary to the majority of actors in this market, ViaMobility comes from the mobile towards the Web and not the opposite.

Q: What is "Me2"?
A: ViaMobility is a specialist in mobiles embedded software which perfectly knows all the open and proprietary operating systems constraints. Me2, Mobile Environment Execution, is a universal widget player resulting from this know-how. Web and regular desktop Widgets will be executed on the user mobile phones without any modification, rewriting, adaptation or mediation. Widgets can be displayed on the mobile desktop (Idle Screen) or on top of any other application. The execution environment is started during power up sequence as of all mobile phone components.

Q: Is Me2 able to play widgets from Google, Yahoo, Microsoft or Apple?
A: The mobile universe is fragmented, but the widgets world is also heterogeneous. Even if these small applications share technologies like AJAX, big editors enriched their environments with proprietary features. A widget developed for the Google environment will not run in Yahoo, Microsoft (Vista) or Apple (Dashboard) environment, and vice versa. The ambition of ViaMobility is to support the above environments and to make technology transparent for the users: they will choose the widgets which are the most appropriate to them, independently of their origins.

Q: Is Me2 really innovative?
A: ViaMobility puts its expertise in Me2, for the users’ benefits. The product takes advantage from important technological advances in the field of execution environments virtualization for embedded systems. This innovation makes possible the homogeneous management of widgets developed in heterogeneous environments.

Q: What is the ViaMobility business model? B2B or B2C?
A: The widgets result from the Web2.0 world which saw the emergence of an “active” user through social networks, citizen journalism, etc. In these business models, it is fundamental to keep a strong relationship with the consumer since the service providers want to monetize this relationship. The extensions towards the mobile world follow the same way and are usually very B2C oriented. The downloading of Java application makes it possible to keep this relationship with the end user.
The drawback is that the downloading of Java applications reaches only a few percents of the accessible market. Rather than to privilege a B2C relationship in a reduced accessible market, the ViaMobility positioning is resolutely B2B by privileging the relationship with handsets manufacturers in order to embed Me2 in all mobiles phone and in a long term prospective, to aim a deployment on several hundreds of millions mobile phones.

Q: Is ViaMobility familiar with handsets manufacturers?
A: ViaMobility is a mobile specialist, familiar with the mobile phones manufacturers’ universe. ViaMobility brings the proof that Me2 takes into consideration the handset constrains such as, battery consumption, ergonomics, security aspects, application size, etc. Embedding software in the mobile phone memory (ROM), during the manufacturing process, is a challenge already achieved in the past. The processes and the constraints are perfectly known from the Viamobility team; this is a big difference between ViaMobility and many other companies targeting this market.

Q: How ViaMobility is contributing to service discovery and adoption?
A: The adoption of this type of service is only possible if the users find there an immediate benefit, if the customer path is easy and if rendering quality is perfect. This is why Me2 is embedded in mobile phones with a set of widgets (weather, stock market, clock, news, etc) which will familiarize the user with the product. In a second stage, the customer can personalize his interface with the regular open market widgets.

Q: What are the Me2 benefits for mobile operators?
A: Me2 proposes to mobile operators a tool in order to control the widgets loaded on their mobile phones. Mobile operators play a role quite different from the ISP, and do not have the same position in the value chain. According to their sizes, the mobile operators fight with different means against the disintermediation which gradually transforms them into simple pipes. Some big groups like Orange or Vodafone positioned themselves very high in the value chain and contribute actively to the contents and services creation. Some see the widgets on mobile as a new risk of disintermediation which would deprive them of revenues from services or advertising. These major operators want to control the widgets distribution and usage on their subsidized phones and will propose themselves services based on this technology. ViaMobility helps them to fulfill this strategy.

Q: What are the Me2 benefits for widgets editors?
A: Me2 offers an immediate benefit to all Web widgets developers and providers: their services become instantaneously operational on mobile phones without any code modification, adaptation, conversion, or mediation. In a certain way, the mobile is richer than the PC: it is possible to send premium SMS or to generate calls to IVR services, which draws up some new business models. Mobile has also sometimes additional hardware such as camera or GPS. In order to benefit from these additional peripherals, widgets editors will be able to develop or upgrade their services by using a function library provided by ViaMobility and fully integrated into their favorite development environment (Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Apple, Orange, Netvibes, etc).

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