After the chaos caused by Vodafone UK Live’s new Internet platforms and Services, Vodafone may be regretting choosing Novarra, the company behind their mobile optimising technology.
The new mobile Internet experience on Vodafone UK consists of a transcoding solution that automatically reformats websites so they can display properly on handheld devices.
While this technology is great for mobile users who want to access to virtually any website, as they would do from their desktop browser, it is totally ruining mobile content provider’s income, but also Vodafone’s own revenue sharing income. Basically, Vodafone shot itself in the foot.
In fact, anytime you want to access to a site from Vodafone Live’s portal, whether through Google, or through their embedded virtual browser, Novarra will download the requested site, reformats it, and display it in your browser. Novarra will do so even if the requested site is a mobile/WAP site, or a site perfectly suited to display content on mobile devices.
The problem is that when downloading the requested website, Novarra will mask the visitor’s User Agent, so mCommerce sites that rely on user agents to display their content will not have a correct transcoded page.
For example, if a Vodafone UK customer is using Google to search for ringtones, if he clicks on either the natural search or paid listing of a mobile ringtone Wap site, he will land on a transcoded page displaying a message saying “sorry, there’s no content for your phone”.
At this time, this technology is causing LOTS of mobile content providers in the UK to lose sales, and the mobile consumer experience is very disappointing.
It is possible to stop this transcoding thanks to Bango, a mCommerce platform, by registering your site to get it whitelisted. Due to the large number of whitelistings, only a few mobile sites have been whitelisted so far. But this is just a temporary workaround.
Novarra must make sure that mobile sites aren’t transcoded. Google itself is unhappy by the fact that Novarra is transcoding their mobile AdWords customers’s sites.
I’ve been informed by someone at Vodafone UK that they’re doing their best to quickly fix this major issue, let’s see what happens, hoping that this wrong strategy will serve as an example to other carriers.
I’ve also contacted Novarra directly but they didn’t get back to me yet.