The explosion of new mobile web sites continues. Yesterday Jason Calacanis the CEO of Weblogs, Inc announced on his blog that all Weblogs, Inc blogs are being mobilized.
Weblogs, Inc which is owned by AOL, is the largest enterprise blog network with over 30 active sites including some very well known names like Engadget, The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW) and Autoblog. These "blogs" are really slick online news sites with paid writers and very large readership. Engadget is Alexa's number two ranked site in the Electronics category. According to Wikipedia the Weblogs, Inc sites earn nearly a million dollars in annual AdSense revenue alone.
Mobile versions of Engadget.com, EngadgetMobile.com, EngadgetHD.com, TUAW.com, Autoblog.com, Cinematical.com, Joystiq.com, DownloadSquad.com and TVSquad.com as well as Jason's own blog, Calacanis.com and Weblog's investor, Mark Cuban's BlogMaverick.com are already up.
No special URL is needed, if a mobile device is detected it automatically gets mobile content. This is the right way to do mobile sites. Users shouldn't have to guess if it's mobile.engadget.com, engadget.com/mobile or engadget.mobi - they should be able to just go to engadget.com and let the site figure out what kind of content their browser can handle. Of course browser detection can fail but Weblogs, Inc thoughtfully provided an alternate URL of m.domainname.com i.e., m.engadget.com which will always deliver the mobile version of the site. Also, if you get the mobile version but really wanted the full version there's a link at the bottom of the mobile site that takes you to the PC site.
The Weblogs mobile sites look pretty good. They are all similar with a front page that's a list of 10 titles with brief descriptions. Next and Previous links allow you to see more titles. Clicking a title brings up the item as a new page with the full text and all images from the item. Items don't seem to be broken into pages but these blogs tend to have frequent short items so the text size of pages should not be an issue. Image size is another matter. All images on the mobile platforms are in their original size. While some of the blogs like Cinematical tend to use small images, a recent Engadget post featured an 860x741px image. An Autoblog post today had five 450px wide images totalling over 150 KB. Very few mobile browsers can handle images wider than screen width or more than about 30KB of images per page. The middle image shows how a 440px wide image might look on a 176x220 phone screen like the RAZR or Nokia 6682 - which incidentally is considered a relatively large phone screen. There are millions of people using the mobile web with screens only 128 or even 96 pixels wide. The bottom screen from the Netfront emulator which can re-size images on the fly shows how the image should look. Even if a browser can re-size and show such large images the load time is unacceptable on anything less than a 3G connection. The only browsers that can seamlessly handle these pages are the proxy based ones like Opera Mini, Novarra's nWeb or Xiino where the proxy re-sizes images before sending them to the browser. Weblogs needs to create smaller images for these mobile sites to make them usable on mainstream mobile browsers. Once the image size issue is taken care of as I'm sure it will be, the Weblogs mobile sites should become very popular destinations on the mobile web. The important thing is that Weblogs and AOL recognize that the mobile web has arrived.
I'll add the Weblogs mobile sites to the Yeswap.com portal for your mobile browsing pleasure.
Weblogs, Inc. Blogs: cHtml