AOL Mobile launched this week in the UK after a successful 4-month beta period in the US. AOL claims that the service will offer a “real web” user experience with advanced functionality through its Search, Email and Web Surf features.
The new offering by AOL Mobile configures all Web content to match any phone, irrespective of its make. A once-in-30-day log in feature and an algorithm that remembers the userâ€™s personal requests and favourites make the portal more user friendly than the mobile portals from rivals Microsoft, Yahoo! and Ask.
Like the other portals, the service includes local weather forecasts, horoscopes, news and a regular web and images search feature. AOL Mobile uses Google search technology to power mobile searches.
The dynamic mobile transcoding feature included in the portal’s technology is supposed to easily render Web content from any internet site. Based on this belief, AOL has also chosen to omit the Mobile Search feature that Google offers on its own mobile search service. However, AOL’s transcoding system does not seem to live up to expectations. Even compared to Google’s transcoding technology, AOL Web Surf reportedly falls short.
A near desktop experience?
First -time users of the service and some bloggers are already complaining that the mobile browsing feature is inferior due to the poor transcoding technology. When compared to the Yahoo!, MSN and Ask’s mobile portals, AOL Mobile does not have a wow-factor and it is also on the slower side. AOL should pay more attention to little things such as server response times and sorting local search results by distance in order to win users.
As far as consumers are concerned, AOL Mobile will most likely get lumped with all the other major mobile search portals, as it does not provide any significant improvements, which is what the mobile Internet really needs.