Refresh – backed by Accel Partners – is best known for creating the Mobizines service (which in many ways almost became a noun in it’s own right) only last year. The idea there was that site owners could have their content wrapped in a Mobizine java client and have advertising set against is. But clearly the idea was hard to execute. Refresh had to go to every content owner individually and manually get them onto the service. Plus users had to download the Java client, often a barrier to entry. Even with these limits, Mobizines managed to get almost 300 content owners on board. But as anyone knows, a universe of 300 sites just won’t cut it.
So instead Refresh went back to the drawing board and realised what was perhaps obvious from the start. The key to pulling down content for mobile lay in RSS feeds.
The resulting Mippin is a kind’ve mashup of the ideas behind various other mobile-enabling services out there. The new service now intelligently sucks in RSS feeds from sites as you surf on your mobile. Once someone has requested a site on Mippin, it remembers and stores that site’s feed, hence why it can scale so much faster than Mobizine, and already has 2,000 feeds in the database. The interface is also very simple and clean to use, in contrast to many Java apps.
Mippin reminded me slightly of Mowser. But where where Mowser transcodes a whole site to make it more mobile screen friendly, Mippin is simply taking the RSS feed from a news site or blog and giving it a mobile sheen. That’s where it gets far easier for mainstream mobile users, since all they neeed to do is use their existing mobile browser. Plus, the new model offers greater opportunity for mobile advertising.
Co-Founder Scott Beaumont told me that Mippin will pull in any requested feed, but it won’t change the feed, nor set any advertising against it unless they are contacted by the feed owner. Of course, what this means is that Mippin can now approach the sites which appear to be getting a lot of traffic on Mippin, and then sell them an advertising revenue share deal (typically 80 per cent goes to the publisher).
Currently Mippin is in open beta while the service is tweaked but they expect to have a database of around 25,000 feeds by the end of this year. That beats trying to pull in content owners by phone.
And what of Mobizines? Refresh plans to continue to support it, but won’t be signing any new customers.