(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.
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.