Baomoi Mobile is a mobile application that enables you to keep up-to-date with latest Vietnamese news from over 80 local online newspapers. It runs on a variety of mobile phones, including Blackberry, and can support models as low as Nokia 1680. The mobile app pulls updates from the Baomoi Web service, which scrawls through the sources and presents news items under certain certain categories. Think of its as a news aggregator.
So I’ve played along with it for almost a month on my Blackberry 8100. It has a slick interface, and runs very fast on a GPRS connection from Viettel.
It’s dead simple to use. As you fire up the application, news categories will appear. A click (let’s assume there’s a mouse) on one of them takes you to news items within that category. A further click will introduce you to a short preview of the article, and another will eventually let you enjoy the reading.
However, I doubt the preview is necessary. Too many clicks! I want to read the actual article with as few actions required as possible. Imagine that you’re reading most of your stuffs from Baomoi Mobile, that would result in hundreds of moving back and forth. Removing the preview will save one third of that burden. Most Vietnamese articles put the preview at the beginning so it surely is better to take a look at that right inside the item. I still think that as long as the headline is catchy, users may want to read a certain article anyway. There’s no need to have a preview next.
Just as any mobile application for Web services, users should be asked to login as Baomoi Mobile initiates. Being able to read the “Web interface” from your mobile phone is a nice idea. However, Baomoi Web also provides a personalization feature that lets you choose your categories, keywords, and sources of choice. I want to have this kind of experience on my Pearl. I want to read the exact kind of news that is relevant to me, rather than having to scrawl through hundreds of articles, most of which are not what I want to. Basically, instead of trying to replicate the Web experience, the mobile app should be the “homepage” of users, featuring news that they’ve chosen to read. My personal Baomoi Mobile.
That makes registration and personalization the most important steps that users should take if they want to have their mobile running. I quite like the personalization process. It begins with categories and subcategories customization. Then you choose keywords. And eventually the sources selection arrives. This level of personalization is already very good IMHO. However, I do think the sources selection is “tough”. Approximately 80 online newspapers are there for you to choose, and they are in alphabetical order. Opps! I’m feeling dizzy. I would prefer them to be sorted by categories. Sites that provide tech news go into one group. Those talking about sports go into another. General sites get organized according to their level of popularity. Sites that are under the previously chosen categories in the first phase of personalization gets sticked, and users then get to decide if they want more of less of them.
As @jishanvn‘s pointed out, it makes virtually no difference whether users are logged in on the Web Interface or not. Both of us agree that the direction Baomoi should go, either on Web or Mobile platforms, is give users their personal homepage. The structure of the homepage should be the same, but once logged in, news that appears under each category should be personalizzed items. The purpose of the current homepage is to display as much news as possible. The purpose of the personalized homepage is to display news that matters.
In a nutshell, I think the current Baomoi Mobile is not living up to expectations, but it does have a lot of potentials. I’m looking forward to the final release and later improvements. But should it want to succeed on the mobile platform, it should go as niche and personal as possible. My two cents of #chemgio!