A Canadian company is offering relief to users of browser-enabled wireless devices who are tired of the tedious typing involved in entering a Web site address.
“To try to get a site from your wireless phone is virtually impossible, because of the number of keystrokes (needed to punch in the URL),” said Jacques Vallee, the CEO of Beaconsfield, Que.-based Rocketfinger.com.
“We’ve developed a process whereby you just enter the domain name you’re looking for, as if you were entering it on your home phone,” Vallee described. “If you’re looking for MSN (Microsoft Network), you just hit M-S-N, that’s it. You hit the keypad three times (6-7-6, as opposed to 6-7-7-7-7-6-6).”
Wireless users can access the service through Rocketfinger.com’s portal, www.rocketfinger.com. However, the number of wireless markup language sites they can access is limited to companies that register their domain with Rocketfinger, for a fee.
“Within the beginning of the year, I’d say we’re looking at an average of 500 to 1,000 new companies a month,” Vallee said.
Vallee added Rocketfinger.com only accepts legitimate domain names, to stop cyber squatting. It also will not register more than one domain name with a certain numeric equivalent. For example, if British Broadcaster BBC (numeric equivalent 2-2-2) registered, Rocketfinger.com would not register company ABC. Registration fees for Rocketfinger.com’s service range from a low of US$50 a year for an 8-letter domain name to US$500 for a three-letter domain name.
Jordan Worth, an analyst with IDC Canada Ltd. in Toronto, said Rocketfinger.com’s usefulness may be short-lived.
“There’s going to be other ways of (entering an address),” Worth explained. “There’s not a lot of intelligence in handsets right now, but there are other software developers that can do just what (Rocketfinger.com’s) suggesting, but they don’t make you pay for it as a service.
“For example, if you want to type in words, like ‘hello,'” he continued, “if you type in 4355, (the software) recognizes that the only word that would exist that had that combination of letters would be ‘hell’ or ‘hello.'”
Vallee acknowledged that handset intelligence is improving, but he questioned if it could keep up with the speed at which wireless devices are proliferating.
“There will be 1 billion units by 2003,” he said, citing most analysts’ expectations. “Not everyone’s going to have an up-to-date unit by then. So we feel that’s part of it, and like any business, we’ll have to evolve.”
Vallee sees opportunities for Rocketfinger.com’s technology to possibly integrate with voice-activated mobile browsers.
“It’s much easier to say MSN than mobile.msn.com,” Vallee suggested. “We’d like to be the standard around the world, that’s our intention.”