Google Launches Mobile-Friendly Gmail
http://www.technewsworld.com/story/47883.html#

By Keith Regan
www.EcommerceTimes.com
Part of the ECT News Network
12/16/05 11:34 AM PT

Telecom analyst Jeff Kagan said that all Web companies want to extend their
reach to the mobile phone as the device evolves from a communications tool
to a "third screen" for customers, after the TV and PC. "Companies like
Google and Yahoo are entering the wireless space because they know the
future of wireless is much more than phone calls," he added.


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Search leader Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) Latest News about Google has launched a
mobile-friendly version of its popular Web-based e-mail service, Gmail,
offering a streamlined interface meant to be more compatible with small
screens.

Anyone with a Gmail account and a Web-enabled phone can access Gmail
remotely. Google said the service detects the type of device being used to
access the mail account and returns message listings and e-mails in an
appropriate format based on the size of the screen and other factors.

The service will also automatically synchronize Gmail accounts, showing
messages viewed remotely as read the next time a user logs on from a PC, and
will enable mobile users to open certain attachments, including text files
in Office or in PDF format.

Gmail mobile also offers a "call to reply" feature that works this way: If a
user has stored the phone number of an e-mail sender in his or her contacts
list, an opened message can be replied to either by a return text message or
by calling that person's number.

That feature may help address some of the shortcomings of using mobile
phones to access Web-based mail, including the difficulty of typing messages
on phone keyboards and the airtime used up to do so.
For the Small Screen

Analysts noted that like all Web-based services, Gmail has technically
always been accessible from Web-ready mobile phones. But the Web version was
often difficult to read on all but high-end mobile devices, with the browser
window on smaller handhelds only displaying a part of the actual Web page.

"This is mobile e-mail for the rest of us, who have normal or tiny screens,"
said Kelsey Group managing editor Greg Sterling.

The goal of the service is likely to boost mobile usage of Gmail, Sterling
said, as a way of giving Google users more exposure to its Web services in
mobile form. That in turn could eventually open up new opportunities for its
search business, especially in the area of local search. Gmail and related
products -- such as GoogleTalk, the IM and voice chat service -- are
important because they require users to register and provide some personal
information, such as their home ZIP codes.

"Gmail is now a kind of hub for Google," Sterling added. "GoogleTalk and a
range of personalized services are all tied in together through Gmail
registration. The more registration data collected by Google, the more
relevant search results and ads can potentially be."
Not Alone

Google has raced its rivals, especially Yahoo (Nasdaq: YHOO) Latest News
about Yahoo, to bring their popular Web services to more mobile users. The
mobile frontier is seen as a key battleground not only for the eyes of
users, but also as a new, virtual landscape where their ads and paid
listings can be populated.

Analysts see search companies struggling to find easy, natural ways for
mobile users to delve into their search engines. Google has tried a keyword
approach that enables users to essentially send a text message of their
search criteria. And Yahoo and Google both have tried to retrofit their
search tools for mobile use, but uptake to date has been seen as minimal.

By comparison, e-mail may be more a intuitive use of mobile devices, as is
evidenced by the popularity of high-end devices such as Research In Motion's
(Nasdaq: RIMM) Latest News about Research In Motion BlackBerry Latest News
about BlackBerry or the Treo Latest News about Treo.

While it's unlikely Web-based e-mail would ever replace the push e-mail
available for business users on the BlackBerry and other hand-helds, it
would likely be sufficient for most consumers, analysts say. And with
Web-browser-enabled phones now plunging in price and Gmail a free service,
the price may be right as well.

Telecom analyst Jeff Kagan told the E-Commerce Times that all Web companies
want to extend their reach to the mobile phone as the device evolves from a
communications tool to customers' "third screen," after the TV and PC.

"Companies like Google and Yahoo are entering the wireless Business
Communication Tools from Sprint space because they know the future of
wireless is much more than phone calls," he added. 



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