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Developer Tool Helps Push More Mobile Content

Tiny cell phone screens continue to be pushed to provide more information. You can already check the stock market, browse the Web, take and receive pictures and even videos on today's latest handsets.

Now San Francisco-based startup Akira Technologies plans to bring out publishing tools to enable a broader range of content to cell phones and other devices. Akira Publisher 2.0 was announced today, with beta availability slated for later this month.

The 2.0 name is somewhat of a misnomer; the original Publisher version was only released as a test version, not as a formal product. A current product, Akira X/Air, is a consumer social networking application already shipping through Cingular. More info is at Akira's website.

Developers will be able to use Publisher 2.0 to create applications and content consumers can access over-the-air without the need to pre-install memory-intensive players or through a specific carrier.

Akira said its applications typically range from about 30 to 90 KB. The Akira player, which is only about 8 KB, can be embedded within the content or application itself, so it doesn't have to reside on the handset.

The publishing tool enables delivery of standard format digital content, including video, audio, images, text, vector graphics and dynamic data such as blogs and RSS feeds to mobile devices.

Publisher 2.0 uses "anticipatory streaming" to quickly load images to devices in low resolution for "semi real-time delivery," Barry Strauss, Akira's vice president of marketing, explained to internetnews.com.

He said Akira will be announcing partner companies next week who will be providing some of the content delivery. He did say they have an agreement with Shutterfly for photo delivery.

One theoretical example of an application Strauss described is that a company could run a promo on cereal boxes with a code number to win prizes. Enter that code in your phone's Web browser and it goes straight to the promo website designed using Publisher 2.0.

Publisher 2.0 runs on standard J2ME MIDP 2.0 handsets from major manufacturers such as LG, Motorola, Nokia, PalmOne, Sanyo, Samsung, and Sony-Ericsson. The research firm Ovum estimates there are over 450 million Java-enabled handsets today.

"Akira has extended Java by providing a set of common APIs across platforms," said Steve Rempell, Akira's founder and CEO in a statement.

Publisher 2.0 uses a graphical user interface the company says does not require sophisticated coding or knowledge of programs or scripts. Users can learn to author content for mobile phones in minutes, the company said.

Thom Kennon, co-founder of professional services group Xosphere, said in a statement that Akira Publisher 2.0 technology "enables companies to inject content, messaging, RSS feeds, blogs, and advertising services into the mobile space, which is currently lacking the interoperability and standards that Publisher 2.0 overcomes."



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