Roger Skubowius on startups
Stratford Country Club at 3:20 PM on September 9th, 2011

Another sign of the coming explosion in mobile data and browsing. Google, one of the web’s Big Three has acquired Waterloo, Ontario based Reqwireless. Reqwireless was best know for it’s WebViewer a Java ME browser that works like Opera Mini using a Web Service to transform desktop web content for handheld display. WebViewer worked quite well, loaded in only 51KB and was compatible with many more phones than Opera Mini currently is. WebViewer sold for $20 which included unlimited upgrades and unlimited lifetime use of the service. I don’t think that business model is sustainable as the only way to generate revenue is through sales and each sale adds to the growing long term support costs. About six months ago I knew Reqwireless was in trouble when they stopped selling their products while continuing to support existing users including free transfers of the software from one handset to another. I’m glad to see that Google picked them up as I think that this sort of client server based technology has great potential for delivering a rich user experience to mainstream phones.
It makes me wonder if Google intends to make their own mobile browser to compete with Opera. Google’s agreement with Opera, which makes Google the default search engine on all the Opera mobile browsers is only for one year so I definitely think a Google mobile browser is a possibility. But what I really believe is that Google is hoping to use Reqwireless’s technology to come up with something similar to Yahoo’s just announced Go. Yahoo! Go is another powerful client-server mobile application, a Symbian app which provides access to your Yahoo mail, contacts and calendar along with content downloads. It also apparently includes some browsing functionality as there is a search box and News, Sports, Weather and Finance links in the screen shot.
One stop shopping for all your mobile needs – easy for users and a potential goldmine for content providers like Yahoo AND Google. Adding to my belief that this sort of all in one client-server mobile portal is what Google has in mind with the Reqwireless technology is Reqwireless’ other products; EmailViewer, HotViewer and GotMailViewer all email apps using Reqwireless’ client-server architecture. EmailViewer is the general purpose version for POP and IMAP while HotViewer and GotMailViewer which are for HotMail and AOLMail respectively.

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