Creating Device-Specific Content
By Carlo Longino, Wed Feb 11 23:45:00 GMT 2004

Over at MocoNews, we found a story that UK content developer Fonedream is to provide Samsung-specific mobile content to the device maker, as most British content is made specifically for Nokia devices. A novel solution to a common problem -- but it's the wrong answer altogether.

Even though Samsung says it's the second most popular handset brand in the UK, evidently users are having a hard time finding content that's not solely compatible with Nokia handsets. So, to fulfill their need, Fonedream will supply the company with content like color images and logos and polyphonic ringtones designed for their devices.

While it's great that Samsung users will be able to get their hands on this stuff, let's not miss the bigger picture here: requiring different specs for content for each manufacturer's phones is a serious hindrance to the market.

It's got to be a pain for developers, who have to make several versions of the same piece of content in order to cover as wide an area of the market as possible. It's a pain for consumers, especially less saavy ones, to ensure that the relevant content works on their device. It's a pain for carriers who have to make sure that there's suitable content for each handset they carry.

So who does it benefit? Device manufacturers who can claim that their version of polyphonic tones are better than somebody else's? Hardly. One of the promises of Java was write once, run anywhere. J2ME was supposed to bring this convenice to the mobile phone. Ha. Standards like this do a lot of good when every company implements them differently (cough cough Bluetooth cough cough), and that doesn't help anybody.

These companies, and the market overall, stand more to gain from settling on common standards -- and sticking to them -- for content, particularly things like ringtones and logos. It's easier for developers and content providers, it's easier for carriers, it opens handsets -- regardless of manufacturer -- to the widest possible array of content, and last, but seemingly least, it's easier on consumers, an ease which will likely lead to higher content spending.