The New York Times is now offering almost every of daily news stories and some daily photos to users of Verizon’s mobile phones. Mobile subscribers can also use their handsets to e-mail NYT articles to friends and save NYT photos for use as screen wallpaper on their handset (hey, you Howard Dean fans!). The service costs US$3.75 per month and currently works only with Verizon’s LG and Audiovox handsets (Verizon plans to offer it soon on Samsung and Motorola handsets).
Though advanced by American standards, the technology behind this service isn’t the state-of-the-art elsewhere in the world. Verizon is using Qualcomm’s Binary Runtime Environment for Wireless (BREW) data transmission protocol, which is basically a multimedia version of WAP 2.0-compliant and that supports specifications from the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and the Open Mobile Alliance (OMA). There are some 80 million BREW devices (including mobile handsets, PDA’s and automobile telematics) in use worldwide. New York Times Digital already offers many text-only WAP services on the Verizon, Spring, Cingular, and Nextel mobile networks, including news, sports, and book reviews. The NYTimes.com Web site itself is already accessible to users of Mobile Digital Assistants (MDAs) on the T-Mobile and AT&T mobile networks, just as it is to anyone on the Web.
We think this new service is a good move for NYTD, considering America’s woeful state of mobile phone network incompatabilities. The service isn’t MMS and (like MMS) it requires the user to remember to retreive the content; but it’s nonetheless a step in the right direction automatic delivery of each day’s entire edition wirelessly into consumers’ mobile devices. We’ll see that before this decade is over.