Mowser.com is Russell Beattie's latest mobile site. It combines search, a transcoder and a mobile site directory with over 500 links, a directory of over 2000 feeds, chat room, forum and Russ' new blog.
It's an impressive mobile portal. In brief testing the transcoder worked well. The search results are high quality, I tried to figure out which major search engine Mowser is using by trying the same queries in Mowser, Google, Yahoo and MSN Live. It looks like it's Live. A neat touch is that the results include small 150 px wide images (from Snap.com) of each search hit. The mobile directory is very complete and is supplemented by the huge categorized feed directory which essentially creates another 2000 mobile sites web sites.
Mobile transcoders have not been too popular with webmasters and content providers but Mowser is attempting to change that by giving site owners unprecedented control over how their transcoded site looks in Mouser. By adding a few meta tags (see the Mowser blog for details) to your site you can:
- Have Mowser insert YOUR AdMob mobile ads (with your AdMob site ID) into transcoded sites so you can get some revenue from the transcoded pages.
- Control page appearance by adding a media="handheld" stylesheet which Mowser will use when transcoding your site.
- Have Google and possibly other search engines direct mobile users to the Mowser transcooded version of your site.
Another nice touch is that if Mowser detects a true mobile site it shows it unaltered - something I wish Google and Skweezer's transcoders did.
Mowser also detects if your are using Opera Mini or Opera Mobile and sends un-transcoded pages to those browsers. This is something that I wish Google Reader Mobile, which automatically transcodes outgoing links, would do. Opera, especially Mini, does a much better job of reformatting and resizing pages than any transcoder. When using a good full web browser like Netfront, Webkit or Opera the transcoder actually makes the experience worse by removing styling, breaking pages into smaller chunks than needed and increasing latency.
All in all I'm very impressed with Mowser. It's a brand new site and while it has a few issues with encoding special characters and page size, I think it's already an ideal place to call your mobile home. Give it a try and be sure and let Russ know what is and isn't working for you.