Wireless Wonders

No news, just comment about mobile phones and services, from a veteran practitioner...3G, GPRS, WAP, Bluetooth, WiFi, etc...

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Unified addressing (idea #95)

Previously I have argued for the ability to "dial a website". At one time I suggested changing the UI on phones to incorporate a "connect" ("@") button, as shown in the image on the left. Of course, some phones do incorporate a dedicated portal button to launch the operator's home page in the browser with just one click - an idea used heavily by Three. However, this is not a short-cut button, but a data entry button that follows an input string, namely a number (or it could be a domain name).

I still think the idea has merit, but in a modified form. It seems obvious now, but what the connect button should do is allow the user to enter a number and for the phone to return a list of services associated with that number, such as "call", "website", "text", "download", "find", "email" etc. A client on the phone performs a look-up of the number to see which services are registered with the number. A number owner is free to register any services they wish (within a defined allowable set). For example, if my number is 0977115554 (which it isn't), I could register wirelesswonders.blogspot.com against that number. I could also register an email address, a postal address etc. These would all be DNS-type look-ups, as already possible using ENUM mapping.

The objective still remains that we ought to be making it dead simple for mobile users to connect to services, which is not easy on today's phones. We don't need to wait for any rocket-science or massive core-network upgrade (i.e. IMS, which needs enum) to justify moving to such a unified addressing scheme now. It can be done today and is probably a highly useful aid to mobile services adoption. The use of a "connect button" is a design issue, although I think it has merit.

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