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Guide to Mobile Content

This Mobilook guide helps people get useful information on their cell phones. It describes the different categories of mobile content. It explains how to get mobile content and browse the Web using a cell phone.

  1. Overview
  2. Categories of Mobile Content
  3. How to Get Mobile Content
  4. How to Browse the Web Using a Mobile Phone
  5. How to Find Mobile Content Sources
  6. Choosing a Mobile Content Provider

1. Overview

There is a wealth of information available for you to receive on your mobile phone. The latest local or world news. Up-to-the minute sports scores and play-by-play action. Get real-time stock quotes and investor information. Get personal match-making while on the go. Look up technical or reference information. Whatever information you want, it's all there and easy to get on your mobile phone.

You can get information wherever you are, when you want it, and from credible sources. You can get highlights or all the details you want. Get the top three stories or the top ten. Get daily or weekly summaries. You can search for the information yourself or have it sent to you automatically through an information alert or bulletin. Most content providers let you choose your content and delivery preferences.

Most mobile content is free, other content must be paid for. The cost depends on the value of the information and how urgently you need it.

2. Categories of Mobile Content

Information on almost any topic is available for you to receive on your mobile phone. Popular topics are news, weather, sports and financial/investment information. Other information includes travel, entertainment, personal/dating, shopping, reference, technical, horoscope and jokes. If the information is in digital format and available on the Internet, it is likely available for a mobile phone.

News – Headline news from around the world. International news from major centers. Domestic news from most countries. Local news from most major cities. The world is awash in news. Good news services have categories and filters that you can use to receive only the news you want.

Weather – Wherever you're going, see what the sky has in store. Get current weather conditions and short- or long-term forecasts. Get weather reports about the place where you are or to where you will go. Get national and local forecasts plus world weather, maritime, skiing snow reports and more. Most providers provide meteorological data.

Sports – For sports fans, you can get up-to-the-minute scores and analysis on almost any professional or semi-professional sports game or event, including football, baseball, soccer, hockey, tennis, motor racing, horse racing, cycling, surfing, skiing, snow-boarding, rugby, cricket, betting/odds and many others.

Financial & Investment – For investing, banking or financial management, you can get real-time stock quotes, bond prices, index quotes, currencies, commodities, interest rates, economic indicators, industry research, company profiles and other information.

Travel – Airport flight information from some airlines. Some have lists of destinations and schedules.

Entertainment – Find entertainment information about movies, concerts, TV and events. Get news and gossip about celebrities, actors and performers.

Personal/dating matchmaking – Some providers of online personals, matchmaking and dating services have postings and alerts for mobile phones. Don't miss another date because you could not get to your computer or home phone.

Shopping – For consumers, you can get shopping alerts from retailers, eBay and consumer shopping sites about special items, prices and orders.

Reference – For writers, managers and workers, you can get reference, dictionary, thesaurus, quotes and other information. Bring the library and the Web to your phone.

Technical – For engineers, scientists, designers, and trades-people, you can get technical, engineering, science, biotech, medical, automotive, health and information in other fields. You can look up technical information on product specification sheets, data sheet, material sheets, safety sheets, repair/maintenance manuals and other online documents. Don't wait to get some numbers. Get them now on your phone and move your design, project or field work forward.

3. How to Get Mobile Content

Most information for mobile phone format requires access to the Internet. Accessing the Internet from a mobile phone is still clunky and slow compared to using a computer, mostly due to large Web page sizes, slow wireless transmission speeds and small mobile handset screens -- but many upgraded networks are making access faster and better.

The delivery of some mobile content can be setup on the provider's website using your desktop or laptop computer. You enter your phone number as the destination for delivery. The information alert is sent via text message to your phone and does not require mobile Web access.

Some Web sites, such as Yahoo, AOL (American Online), and CNN, have text-only versions for use with wireless Web (WAP) browsers. Smaller content speeds up delivery to a mobile phone.

First, decide which format of mobile content you prefer. Go to the websites of the publishers of Web content. Use your mobile phone to access their regular Web pages. Is it a worthwhile way for you to get mobile information?

Next, use your phone to access their text-only wireless Web (WAP) pages, if available. These pages have unique Web addresses that you can get from their main Website. The pages should have abbreviated content and appear with a better format on your phone's screen.

Most people prefer viewing content on their mobile phone from wireless Web (WAP) pages. Now, setup the content and delivery options for the information you want. For example, setup the main page to list the top three news stories in the four categories you choose. Then, when you view that WAP page on your phone, you will see the information organized that way.

If you setup to receive information via mobile alerts, the information is sent to your phone as a text message. Some alerts can be setup from your phone and others from your computer on the Web. Each time the alert is sent, it will prompt you for download to your phone.

Some alert systems use "push technology" and will automatically download the information to your phone without any action on your part. The alert will arrive on your phone and notify you. Good for stock market updates.

Most mobile content is free. But some is available only for a fee, usually a subscription. The cost depends on the value of the information and how urgently you need it. Real-time information, such as stock quotes, is worth more. Information that cost more to produce, such as market analysis or recommendations, is worth more.

If you need the information immediately, before it is published on the Web or in print, such as sports goals, you might have to pay the content service.

4. How to Browse the Web Using a Mobile Phone

Mobile access to the Internet requires GSM/GPRS (General Radio Packet Service) wireless technology, which provides mobile Internet access at speeds comparable to that of a standard dial-up connection. Ask your wireless service provider.

Your handset must be able to access and receive information from the Internet. This requires some form of mobile micro-browser.

A mobile Web browser (mini-browser) is software on a mobile phone which allows you to "surf" Web sites which have been specially designed for wireless access. A wireless Web browser is a text-based, menu-driven application.

If your handset is designed to access the Internet, a mini-browser software program should be included with your mobile handset. There are other third-party mini-browsers available, some for free and some for license. Check your handset capabilities.

WAP (Wireless Access Protocol) is a set of format rules designed to make Internet graphic-rich content suitable for a wireless device. WAP software resides on your phone. Later versions of WAP (2.0) support more browser features.

There are many non-WAP Web browsers, such as Openwave Mobile Browser, Bitstream ThunderHawk or Palm Web Pro, that can read regular (HTML) Web pages. But reading regular Web pages can be slow on a wireless connection.

5. How to Find Mobile Content Sources

The leading information providers, such as MSN (Microsoft Network), Yahoo!, AOL (American Online), and CNN, have text-only versions for use with wireless Web (WAP) browsers. For example, Google and Yahoo offer a mobile search feature.

Leading newspapers, such as The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, have mobile versions available.

To find other sources of mobile information on topics that interest you, search on the Internet. There are many specialty content providers.

Ask your friends or colleagues what sources of mobile content they use. See the lists of content providers below.

6. Choosing a Mobile Content Provider

To get free mobile content, simply sign-up and setup their system to receive the information you want. After a few weeks, you decide if the service meets your needs. If is does not, try another free provider of similar content.

To get mobile content from a paid service, think more carefully about what information you want and how you want it. How much is it worth to you to get the information on mobile?

Your selection criteria can include factors such as:

  • Timeliness of information – Are stock quotes within one hour, ten minutes or real-time? Do you get sports scores before the quarter is over?
  • Accuracy of information – Are you getting firsthand information or a condensed secondhand version?
  • Reliability – Is the content provider's system up and running most of the time, especially during peak business hours?
  • Insights – Beyond the plain facts, are their observations, comments or explanations worthwhile?
  • Exclusivity – Are they the only ones with this information? It could be special or an advantage for you to get exclusive information.
  • Spam-free – Do you get any spam or other unwanted offers or content? Can you tolerate it, especially with a free service? You pay per-byte to download spam and with your wasted time.
  • Billing and account management – Are their bills accurate? Are problems with your account resolved quickly and to your satisfaction?
  • Cost – Do you pay paid per article, per story or per quote? Can you pay a flat rate per month. Plus per-byte download charges from your wireless service provider. If you have a budget, stay within it.
  • What is your budget? – Most mobile content is free. But real-time or expensive information usually comes with a subscription fee.

Qualify the content providers according to your selection criteria. Many providers offer a free trial. Try a few and then decide.

Enjoy getting the information you want, wherever you are, and whenever you want it.

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