New York -- Ignoring the iPhone in favor of the “top-of-the-line smartphone platform,” AOL Inc. on Thursday unleashed a new smartphone portal, m.aol.com. Additionally, the company has just jiggled its focus on the Android operating system with the release of 2 new exclusive app for Android devices before the iPhone.
At least for AOL, Apple's iPhone is losing its charm in the smartphone market, as sales of handsets powered by Google's Android operating system skyrocket.
The smartphone portal is specifically configured to be able to deliver content on iPhone and Android browsers, providing a touch-driven interface that allows for easy browsing through articles and content, and additionally, the new portal delivers location-based content linked to local weather, movie, traffic and other updates; and an application directory. The site specifically is optimized for phones that support HTML5. There is also an app directory for users to find mobile apps, and it supports video content.
The announcements are part of a renewed focus on mobile apps and with the launch of app for Android, AOL is empowering users with a simple and convenient way to access dozens of AOL's most popular properties, such as PopEater, Engadget and FanHouse. The software also quickly links to AOL services, such as MapQest and Mail.
The app also includes a list that links directly to other available AOL apps for Android. That list also contains a DailyFinance app that AOL has announced is now available for Android. Already offered to iPhone and BlackBerry users, DailyFinance delivers stock quotes and financial news to users.
AOL's renewed focus on mobile apps and content is interesting, though. “Android has emerged as a top-tier smartphone platform,” says David Temkin, the company's new Vice President of Mobile. “So, while we will continue to focus on development for multiple mobile platforms, this time, we are releasing an early version of an app on Android first -- the AOL app.”
“We are also releasing DailyFinance, one of the most popular apps on other platforms, on Android,” he states, pointing to AOL's growing library of smartphone-optimized sites and apps as the beginning of a new focus.
Previously, AOL's mobile portal was founded on WAP (Wireless Application Protocol). WAP technology was initially formulated to allow content providers to deliver Web content to phones, accommodating their small screens and slow connections. However, with the growth in more powerful phones and faster wireless connections, most content providers have been offering HTML-based content to mobile users.
“Today's smartphones renders an entirely different experience from the earlier generation of WAP-based sites, and AOL will be taking full advantage of the possibilities these new devices can offer, both on the mobile Web and in apps.”
AOL's announcement comes just a week after Google presented its earnings call last week that 160,000 Android phones were being activated each day, which is far more than iPhone activations. Indeed, Android phones in the first quarter leapfrogged the iPhone in the first quarter to grab a 28% share of the U.S. smartphone market, according to research firm NPD Group. The iPhone's share stood at 21%, while Research in Motion continued to lead the market with a 36% share.
Nevertheless, the iPhone remains a powerhouse in the U.S. market. AOL's mobile website, where people can find out more about the company's mobile offerings, seems to favor the iPhone, with four of five highlighted services on the site featuring the iPhone or iPad.