Microsoft spin-off opens mobile beta

New browing interface unveiled

A Microsoft spin-off plans to release an open beta of a new mobile browsing user interface in mid-December.

ZenZui, the Seattle spin-off, was also set to announce it is changing its name to Zumobi.

Zumobi is offering a piece of software, currently only compatible with Windows Mobile phones, that works in connection with a back-end server and is designed to make mobile internet use easier. The user interface is made up of 16 tiles on which users can easily zoom in and out. Each tile represents a web page.

Zumobi's back-end servers are constantly updating the websites on the phone, so a user doesn't have to wait for the site to load after they click the tile. Users determine what site appears in each tile, and they can send tiles to each other.

The service will be free for end users — except for related mobile data network usage — and advertising supported. Advertisers could sponsor specific tiles that might offer information users might want, such as traffic updates. If an operator pre-loads the software onto phones, the operator gets a cut of the advertising revenue.

Zumobi hopes to make the client available to many other types of phones, with the Research in Motion BlackBerry next in line and expected in the second quarter of 2008, said John SanGiovanni, co-founder and vice president of product and services for Zumobi.

The iPhone is also quite high on Zumobi's list, but the company doesn't want to officially say it will build a client for the phone until it sees the iPhone developer kit, which comes out next year.

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