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TeliaSonera launching Novarra transcoder (updated)

jonarne's picture
Posted by jonarne - 14 Feb 2008
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(update at the bottom)

We all remember the riot regarding Vodafone UK and their introduction of the Novarra transcoding engine. TeliaSonera in Sweden has actually just lauched a Novarra service of their own called SurfOpen (does not have anything todo with neither surf nor open in my opinion)...

The purpose of Novarra is ok: making desktop web pages readable on the mobile phone. However, pages already optimized for the mobile context are also transcoded. In addition, a navigational bar and an advertising banner are placed at the top of the page. The Novarra is not "default" in the SurfOpen case, though. It is only used when the user types in an url on the Telia Surfport portal:

In Sweden this is causing a new riot among the portal owners of course. Perfectly unedrstandable:

  • Loss og editorial freedom and controll
  • Destroyed user experience
  • No/poor device adaptation
  • Business models based on advertising and CPA payments/premium services are destroyed.
In addition there are of course intelectual properties issues and one have to ask who is making money on whos portal...

To illustrate what Novarra does, this is an example of mobile portal of the Swedish newspaper dn.se with and without transcoding:

How it is supposed to look like for a SonyEricsson P990:

How it looks like through Novarra:

This is of course crisis for the content owners who actually have made an effort to provide their customers with a good mobile experience. Will be interesting to see where this story ends.

Update:

(15.02.2008)

The Swedish media companies are now fighting back. All requests from the SurfOpen/Novarra gateway are now redirected to http://surfclosed.se. TeliaSonera responds to the criticism (Swedish).

Compared to the Vodafone UK situation, which mostly affected developers and the technical side, the current situation is of course somewhat different: both the technical side and the business/editorial side are affected.

The reactions from the market sould give a clear message to operators trying to intervene in the a well organised value chain.

 

 


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Posted by jonarne - 14 Feb 2008

jonarne's picture

John Arne has seen the mobile world both from the inside of a Telco and outside as a content provider. Currently he works as Head of Product Development in Mobiletech AS which he also co founded.

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Posted by eklund 6 years ago

This is very frustrating. An opt-out list would be nice - and education where necessary. Mobile Internet newbie's will have no idea what is happening behind the scenes.

A disturbing pattern is emerging with regard to operators adopting this technology...

Posted by nigelc 6 years ago

Great work Jon, this illustrates the problem perfectly. Transcoding already-mobile content is bad enough. TeliaSonera and Novarra this time makes it even worse by running ads on other people's content. Isn't this illegal? I thought Google got into trouble in news.google.com precisely because they took other people's content and run ads on it without the content owner's consent. Can a content owner lodge a complaint with the proper authorities or take legal actions?

Posted by jonarne 6 years ago

TeliaSonera has now removed SurfOpen from their mobile portal :)

Posted by PanMan (not verified) 6 years ago

We are having a LOT of issues with the gateway that vodafone installed in the Netherlands and Germany; it not only transcodes normal web requests, but also the JSON calls our application makes, therefore breaking it for all our users...
If anyone has a solution for this....

Posted by atrasatti 6 years ago

PanMan wrote:

We are having a LOT of issues with the gateway that vodafone installed in the Netherlands and Germany; it not only transcodes normal web requests, but also the JSON calls our application makes, therefore breaking it for all our users...
If anyone has a solution for this....

You need to get in touch with Vodafone and get in their whitelist. Apparently .mobi domains are automatically added to the whitelist, but this is not an official rule.

Posted by Rui Pinheiro (not verified) 6 years ago

Hi!
URLs that start with "mobile." also seem to be added to the whitelist.
There's no excuse for Vodafone/Novarra to do this, they should respect the "cache-control: no-transform" header.
I really think they'll get sued for this sooner of later.

Posted by passionlab 2 years ago

I thought Google got into trouble in news.google.com precisely because they took other people's content and run ads on it without the content owner's consent.
Regards
Mike Walker