SAN FRANCISCO (01/28/2000) - The Web-enabled phone is great in theory, but you may go blind browsing on a 2-inch display to find out the latest scores of your favorite team.
MobileID Inc. might have an answer. Launching Friday, MobileID is a personalized wireless portal where you can set up the content you want to receive and how you want it to look on cell phones supporting the wireless application protocol. Available Saturday will be e-mail forwarding and access to regular POP3 e-mail. By the end of the month, you'll be able to receive personalized Web content on your phone.
Signing up at MobileID.com is free, but you need a phone with a WAP microbrowser, which enables you to search sites reformatted to the wireless protocol. While many of today's digital phones are already equipped with the short messaging service protocol, MobileID chose to support WAP because of the usage fees and delays of SMS, says David Hayden, president and chief executive officer of MobileID.
Each MobileID user receives a personalized Web address--something like Wap.username.mobileid.com/. You can go to MobileID.com, where you can access e-mail from any of your POP3 e-mail accounts. Most phones require you to get a new e-mail address, but says Hayden, "We are one of the first mobile services to offer direct access to POP3 accounts from a phone."
If you choose to set up a MobileID address, mail you receive at that address can be forwarded to any other mail account. You also tell people your physical location, and of course, get your customized Web content.
Get Only What You Want
Through its content partners, MobileID lets you configure what information you want and in what order you want it. Rather than having to drill through Yahoo/sports/football/49ers, you can receive quick access to scores.
"People want a lot more than stock quotes," Hayden says. "We will still offer basic news, weather, and stocks, but we'll provide unique content that you'll be able to see the way you want to on your phone."
Regarding content, MobileID is somewhat comparable to AvantGo, which offers Web content for handhelds like Palms and Windows CE devices. And MobileID won't send you ads.
Transactions on the Road
MobileID is partnering with content sites that do not already have a wireless strategy, as opposed to established wireless sites like Yahoo.
Through these types of partnerships, MobileID will let you do things like sign up for tee times or search for movies, and use the phone's global positioning satellite to find theatres near you. If you've set up your credit card information, you'll even be able to order tickets on your way to the theatre.
MobileID is working to have its site preset in phones and eventually built into hardware. At the e-commerce site CellMania, phones will be programmed with MobileID.com, and preset when they are purchased, Hayden says.
For its basic services like POP3 e-mail access, personalized content, and mail forwarding, MobileID will remain free.
"We may offer things like universal messaging and instant messaging as premium services." Hayden says.