Many of our customers and partners are interested in extending key portal-based applications to mobile devices. Most are prioritizing this effort as a set of services that is becoming mandatory (no longer optional) to deploy, to support the information access preferences of their customers, partners and end users. A wide variety of market research and information publications cite the rapid growth of the mobile application market. For example, a recent IBM study managed by the Institute of Business Value interviewed over 600 consumers across international locations and found over 50 percent would prefer to receive their information via mobile device instead of the PC today. Further, the study predicts that the world's population of mobile-phone users expected to increase from the current 50 percent to 80 percent in 2013.
IBM software offerings are architected to deliver information, collaboration, application and transaction services on the platform of choice; whether server-based, rich client or via mobile devices. Many of our Portal customers are already extending their portal based solutions to mobile audiences. Examples include online mobile banking, managing in-store task lists, customer service, accounts management, alerts, and subscriptions, application purchases, and more.
Using WebSphere Portal and the Mobile Portal Accelerator offering, our customers have leveraged the scalable, secure WebSphere Portal foundation services, including centralized administration and personalization services to seamlessly deliver applications targeted towards the information needs of their users; customers, prospects, business partners and internal employees. The Mobile Portal Accelerator software delivers content to mobile devices that 'fits' or suits the unqiue display characteristics of the mobile device; whether it is an iPhone, Blackberry, Nokia or older phone with fewer display options. In fact, the Mobile Portal Accelerator device repository enables the software to support over 6500 devices worldwide, with new devices added as the are updated or introduced to the market. Our customers have rapidly increased their ability to introduce new products and services to their connected and mobile audineces, using the combination of WebSphere Portal and Mobile Portal Accelerator, both managed via Portal administration. Their end user audiences are able to seamlessly complete tasks, collaborate with others, contribute new and updated information using their preferred device and work style, greatly improving overall organizational productivity and competitiveness. This solution also lets administrators, or site designers, make the right choices about which portal applications and pages they want to make available to their mobile portal audiences. In addition, from an end user point of view, the mobile end user is presented with a productive mobile experience; as the mobile display (including navigation, text and images) are optimized for the display characteristics of their mobile device. This reduces the frustration mobile users can experience when accessing mobile content designed for delivery to the "lowest common denominator" web mobile experience, which can often involve scrolling or missed information via an incomplete display. The Mobile Portal Accelerator multi-channel server and mobile device repository connect the device specific characteristics (and there can be as many as 800 defined per mobile device) through the multi-channel server which optimizes the portal content appropriately to the specific mobile device that invoked the portal page.
Last month we introduced a new version, the Mobile Portal Accelerator 6.1. This release introduces several useful new features, including support for the WebSphere Portal 6.1 platform. The Mobile Portal Accelerator (MPA) 6.1 release provides closer integration with the Lotus Web Content Management (LWCM) author and presentation environment. This means that LWCM content authors can create content, approve it for publication to the portal, and seamlessly also publish that content out to their mobile audiences. You can see a good demonstration of this in a demo posted to the Mobile Portal Accelerator wiki. Notice that the LWCM content authored presents differently (and is perfectly tailored to ) the device display characteristics of the iPhone, Blackberry and Nokia mobile phones used in the demonstration. Doesn't get much easier than that...
The new MPA 6.1 release also includes new out of box mobile enabled portlets, including an updated RSS mobile portlet, stock reporting portlet, and new client framework widget sample portlets (see details below).
Many of our customers are asking about support for 'Smartphones' with the ability to render Web 2.0 capabilities such as AJAX client side rendering. The Mobile Portal Accelerator offers support for such devices, and the ability to develop applications that can take advantage of the presentation power of those devices, via new Framework Client widgets and sample mobile portlets provided with the release. The sample widgets provide over fifty rich, client side interfaces that can be used to deliver an enhanced, more interactive experience to client capable mobile devices. Examples of these widgets include styling, transition, AJAX table, autocomplete, popup, ticker tape, and more. You can see a demonstration of some of these capabilities displayed to mobile devices, and other mobile portal application demonstrations on the Mobile Portal Accelerator wiki. This release also introduced several features and priorities that were planned jointly as we worked with our customers and partners to understand their current and future plans for mobile portal applications.
It's a great time to be involved with this technology - it's a very active space and our team is quite responsive to the needs of our customers as they deploy mobile portal solutions - worldwide.
For those seeking more technical detail on the Mobile Portal Accelerator, the Information Center is another useful online resource. If you are to attend one of the IBM Portal Excellence Conference 2009 events this fall, you'll find several Mobile Accelerator technical, business value and hands-on lab sessions are offered.
We look forward to hearing your questions, comments and plans to extend your portal applications to mobile audiences.
- - Lauren