To find out the weather on a cellphone, it typically takes four clicks and typing in your ZIP code to get an answer. Why bother? With key work from...
To find out the weather on a cellphone, it typically takes four clicks and typing in your ZIP code to get an answer.
With key work from Bellevue-based InfoSpace, Cingular Wireless is rolling out a revamped MEdia Net service aimed at making it easier to retrieve data on the phones of 30 million of Cingular’s 52 million subscribers.
The rollout is the latest step among wireless carriers to simplify data use and tailor cellphones more closely to individual subscribers.
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MEdia Net provides consumers information from a variety of sources, including the Web, and is accessible through a starting screen called the “deck.” From this deck, users can look up weather information, purchase ringtones, read the news, or scan horoscopes and e-mail.
Until now, the deck has been pretty generic. Through a partnership with InfoSpace, that is changing by customizing content and delivering it based on a subscriber’s billing ZIP code. A subscriber can also manually customize the content even more.
The upgrade will be automatic to almost all of Atlanta-based Cingular’s customers who have multimedia-enabled phones. Former AT&T Wireless subscribers who are using the legacy mMode service are expected to be migrated over to Cingular’s MEdia Net early next year.
Before the changes, the service was a list of generic buckets such as “What’s Hot,” “News & Finance” and “Sports.”
The new look reworks the first half of the page with three personalized sections, each with text and corresponding pictures. The top section consists of weather based on the user’s billing address. The second is national news and the third can be personalized to provide stock quotes, celebrity gossip, sports or other content.
The second half of the page lists traditional categories. They also provide information based on the billing address. Movie times are localized for nearby theaters, for example, and sports for local teams.
There’s also a search function that attempts to anticipate what a user would look for. For instance, the user can enter Alaska Flight 528 to get departure or arrival times, or a stock ticker to get the latest prices.
“It’s smart enough to know what you are trying to do,” said Sam Hall, Cingular’s vice president of mobile browser services, who is based in Redmond. “Otherwise, it’s death by 1,000 clicks.”
InfoSpace, which creates content and infrastructure for wireless carriers, was critical in developing the service. Steve Elfman, InfoSpace’s executive vice president of technology and operations, said the company developed the technology and will also manage and host it. Cingular will be in charge of adding the content.
It was clear customization was the way to go, he said, but this project has taken it a step further than other carriers.
“We thought personalization was important, but as we developed it, it has become clear that this is going to change how we use our phone,” Elfman said.
Tricia Duryee: 206-464-3283 or firstname.lastname@example.org