Mowser’s Founder is Bitter, Thinks Mobile Web is Dead

Russell Beattie’s Mowser is shutting down and boy is he bitter.

… the general answer is that I don’t actually believe in the “Mobile Web” anymore, and therefore am less inclined to spend time and effort in a market I think is limited at best, and dying at worst.

In other words, I think anyone currently developing sites using XHTML-MP markup, no Javascript, geared towards cellular connections and two inch screens are simply wasting their time, and I’m tired of wasting my time.

According to AdMob metrics mobile web usage is far from dying. A trend you do see is that people who have internet enabled devices and all you can eat data plans are using the mobile web more and more. The main issue with current carriers is the confusing pricing for data plans. Do you know how much it would cost you browse the web?

I know for a fact that users with two inch screens regularly get online with their cell phones. There is a certain carrier, who we’ll call Carrier M, who bundles unlimited data with their plans but only offers very basic phones (no smartphones/iPhones). Customers of Carrier M make up a large amount of traffic on AdMob’s network disproportional to Carrier M’s market share.

I also believe that better browsers will eventually become the standard for mobile browsing. iPhone, Android, LiMo are all going to offer phones with WebKit. But at the same time there will still be mobile specific sites (see all the iPhone specific versions of webpages out there).

As for Russell’s rant, I just think he’s blowing off steam. I applaud anybody who takes the huge risk of trying to start their own company. I wish him the best of luck and hope he doesn’t give up on mobile.

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“Thousands of Gphones”

So today Google dropped the bomb, which was really more like a water balloon. It announced Android, the Gphone that wasn’t. If you’re lazy like me, you can watch the official video. They haven’t demoed anything, no devices announced, and yet I’m blogging about it like thousands of other people.

There’s not much to say, since they basically announced nothing, is that I hope it succeeds. The more innovation in mobile the better I say.
Continue…

3 Reasons Why I Don’t Want a Gphone

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*Obviously not an official logo

Donnie Flood posted 5 reasons why everyone wants a Gphone and I was thinking to myself if I would get one. Based on all the available info, the answer right now is no. (Now I think we all agree that no official information has been released, not to mention this is all based off non-confirmed rumors and what not, therefore such as.)

  1. Heavily tied to Google services
    I’m sorry, but I don’t use Gmail or Calendar or most other Google services for that matter. I prefer Yahoo! Mail over Gmail and I already get faux-push of Y! Mail to my Blackberry. Google Calendar just doesn’t work that well for me or maybe I just don’t need a scheduling tool. The only 2 Google services I use regularly are Search and Maps, and I can already get both on whichever phone I already have. In fact you can already get most of Google’s services mobily.
  2. Google makes software not hardware
    This will be Google’s first foray into consumer electronics. I don’t care how many PhDs they have working at the plex, confidence is not high in Google making a kick-ass cellphone.The latest rumors have Google partnering with HTC as the handset manufacturer. I’ve never liked any of the HTC products which includes the T-Mobile Dash and the AT&T 8525.

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    Sexy is not thy name, 8525 is.

    None of those phones particularly excite me from a design perspective. Wonder why the iPhone has been getting all this attention from people that don’t even know care to know OS X from Vista? It’s all about aesthetics and the currently HTC line up falls short in that department.

  3. Tin-foil hat factor
    Not that I’m paranoid or overly concerned with privacy or anything (heck, you are on waynepan.com) but Google already handles all of my search and knows exactly where I’ve needed directions to lately. Imagine if they can track your every movement on the grid in combination with your emails, scheduling/calendaring, and search! It’s a bit scary if you ask me.

Who knows, I may eat crow when Google finally announces something. It could be the best phone since …. since …. the iPhone! I am a geek after all. 🙂

Google AdSense For Mobile Security Vulnerability

Google launched their AdSense for Mobile to the public recently. The implementation of the AdSense Mobile code in PHP looks something like this:

< ?php
$GLOBALS['google']['ad_type']='text';
$GLOBALS['google']['channel']='';
$GLOBALS['google']['client']='pub-00000000000000;
$GLOBALS['google']['format']='mobile_single';
$GLOBALS['google']['https']=$_SERVER['HTTPS'];
$GLOBALS['google']['host']=$_SERVER['HTTP_HOST'];
$GLOBALS['google']['ip']=$_SERVER['REMOTE_ADDR'];
$GLOBALS['google']['markup']='xhtml';
$GLOBALS['google']['output']='xhtml';
$GLOBALS['google']['ref']=$_SERVER['HTTP_REFERER'];
$GLOBALS['google']['url']=$_SERVER['HTTP_HOST'] . $_SERVER['REQUEST_URI'];
$GLOBALS['google']['useragent']=$_SERVER['HTTP_USER_AGENT'];

require(‘http://pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/show_ads.php’);
?>

As you can see, this is a server side include that executes a remote php script on a Google servers. This differs from regular AdSense code (which is simple javascript that dynamically generates iframes client side) because mobile browsers generally don’t handle javascript.

In general, there’s usually no issue with this except for adding a small amount of processing and latency per request on the publisher’s side. However, there’s a problem with their PHP implementation. If a hacker were ever to trick the requesting server into thinking pagead2.googlesyndication.com was actually say hacker.com then the foreign php script can be remotely executed. (See DNS Cache Poisoning.)

At this point, it’s a free-for-all. Once I can execute php code on your server, all bets are off. Hopefully, Google will change their implementation to be similar to the other site install code they offer in the other languages.

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iPhone Unlocking Rundown

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I’ve been following the saga of iPhoneSimFree.com which claims to have a 100% software solution for unlocking the iPhone. So far they’re only selling licenses in bulk for $36 for 50. (That is make the iPhone accept other sim cards besides AT&T. I also find their name ironic in that it contains the word free when they’re selling the software.)

So far they’ve released videos on all major gadget blogs here and here. Except that no normal consumer has the software in hand… save one guy from UK it looks like.

With all the doubts, PR, the shady bank-wire-only-purchases by iPhoneSimFree, and Paypal pre-order only distributors I’m simply going to wait. Wait until the iPhoneDevTeam puts out their free solution. The Apple fanatics are a rabid and hack-tastic bunch, so I have no doubt that a free solutions will be released shortly.

I have a 4gb unopened iPhone sitting here on my desk which I bought for $299 when Apple.com was clearing them out. I want to use it unlocked with my T-mobile sim card so I can switch off carrying my Pearl when I don’t need all that bulk.

Update
We’ve (AdMobsters) opened the iPhone and started hacking on it. We’re trying out this method here released by the iPhoneDevTeam. I’ve was trolling #iPhone and got everything prepared but we had to fake activate the iPhone first. Definitely learned a lot in the last couple hours and am in the middle of installing SSH required to get things going.

We activated and jailbroke using INdependence which you MUST use over iActivator if you’ve upgraded to iTunes 7.4 (which we learned the hard way =| ). Now we’re installing some stuff and will try to hack which involves some command line magic. I’m sure that tomorrow morning the iPhone Dev Team will release a nice .app and a nice GUI to automate the entire thing. We’re just impatient like that 😀

Update 2
We’ve successfully unlocked using the manual method here. There is also a GUI unlocker here.

Update 3

Here is the latest and greatest GUI iPhone Unlocker from the original iPhoneDevTeam. It unlocks your phone in 3-5 mins (the previous ones flashed in 20 mins). Tested and should work for most iPhones.

Mobile Monday – Social Software

Just got back from Mobile Monday where the theme this month was about mobile social apps. The companies that presented were, bebo.com, loopt, and Nokia’s Mosh. It was a huge turn out and there was a line out the door with many people being turned away. (Congrats to Mike Rowehl for such a great event, not to mention for getting me in!)

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Bebo’s Jordy Mont-Reynaud started off presenting Bebo’s upcoming mobile offering. A WAP based mobile version of the social network Bebo is due to premier on Orange UK. Obvious move since Bebo dominates the social networking arena in that market.
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Loopt’s Sam Altman previewed their social networking app which concentrates on location, location, location. The app offers a powerful location based downloadable social application and Altman previewed the upcoming AIM integration. LBS applications usually need to partner with carriers to gain access to that valuable data and Loopt already has signed up with Boost and Sprint. Verizon is rumored to be announced in the next couple months.

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The last presentation, Mosh, was a great disappointment. Mosh is Nokia’s cross carrier, cross platform social network concentrating on sharing media from pictures to video to applications. The part that’s missing is the ‘social’ aspect. The only social aspect is that you can add people, comment on items, and that’s about it. Missing are groups, private messaging, testimonials, discovering other friends, you know basic social network functionality. Even when you add someone to your network, they’re not called friends, simply My People.

Maybe Nokia isn’t trying to build a social network and simply trying to build a media sharing site. If that’s the case than the marketing language needs some work because a Google search for mosh nokia social network turns up over 350k results, many that call Mosh a social network.

It’s pretty clear, that a big giant like Nokia just doesn’t get social networking while smaller startups like Bebo and Loopt are posed to lead the way.

AdMob AdMonitor

My current gig is at AdMob and we recently re-did the home page and took out a small little widget that had a live scrolling ticker of actual ad requests. When we redesigned the home page there just wasn’t room for it anymore. A lot of people were sad to see it go. Except now we’ve brought it back in full force! We’ve even been mentioned on TechCrunch! (A little dream of mine for a while, not because I like Arrington or anything, but because it’s the 4th largest blog.) Here’s my original post on our company’s website.

AdMob AdMonitor
admonitor.png

Technical stuff:
The page is a combination of Google Maps, YUI, Ext JS, Fusion Gadgets, and our own internal API. The prototype was thrown together in a couple hours and then design, marketing, and our CEO Omar got involved and it evolved into what you see today. The joys of working at a fast paced company, I love it! 🙂