Mobile Content Patents Promise Customization

Plenty of options is typically seen as a good thing, unless the screen involved is the size of a cellphone monitor. But which options are displayed and which are hidden?

A Santa Clara, CA, cellphone software firm has been awarded a patent on its method of allowing the cellphone itself to make that selection based on the buying pattern of the consumer.

July Systems, which announced the patent today, argued that the system's support of realtime personalization is "key to overcoming screen size and other limitations" to help "the mass adoption of mobile video, games, music and other services."

Gigi Wang, July's senior VP of marketing and alliances, offered herself as an example of how the system works. She said that she was using a games demo site, where visitor can play any games they want for free, but only for a limited number of times. After that, they are given the option to either purchase the game or buy single-use capabilities.

Wang said she typically purchased the single-use options and, relatively quickly, the cellphone-based program stopped offering her the purchase option, having concluded that, according to Wang, the SVP was too cheap. Instead, it started using that screen space to describe similar games that she could rent.

The program doesn't use cookies, she said, but simply forces users to log in and then tracks all activity on their servers. The system also has the ability to integrate a client's database into July's database so that the system would recognize those customers' preferences much more quickly.

An ever-present challenge for Web sites has been the huge number of variables that impacts how people view the same site, including their operating system, browser, browser version, firewalls, popup blockers, spyware, anti-virus programs, screen size, screen settings, multimedia applications and settings, amount of RAM and speed of connection.

Programming for mobile content has every one of those same challenges, but also adds the type of wireless connection, which can have a huge impact on how content is viewed.

"We understand the complexity of the mobile world," Wang said, adding that her company's patents speak to that understanding.

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