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davem
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 11, 2002 2:07 am    Post subject: mobile phones Reply with quote

Has anyone made a webcomic specifically for mobile phones?

This seems to be the future platform. I think we should all be looking at this. Also- probably more chance of getting paid for our work- mobile phone users are more used to paying for things.

Your thoughts - please!

dave
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Greg Stephens
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 11, 2002 2:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Not to be too dismissive, but any mobile phone with a screen of sufficient size and resolution to be able to actually view a webcomic will be too large to be attractive or useful as a mobile phone. I suppose it would be possible to read Scott McCloud's Carl comics on one, though, if you wanted to do so one panel at a time.

If you really consider this, it will take a major redisign of what a mobile phone is in order to make it useful as an internet device- Its buttons provide the most inconvenient interface to type words; It will always have a miniscule screen in comparison to more traditional PCs; It will lack in power, speed, and memory in comparison to more traditional computers. Even given that the last point is subject to Moore's Law and can probably be overcome within a couple years, the mere fact that a phone is a device specifically designed for voice communication means that those needs don't mesh very well with the needs of a screen-based visual browser. This is not the platform of the future. It is an alternative, true, but technologists who try to build browsers into phones are missing the point that browsing would be a secondary purpose of a telephone while voice communication will always be the first.
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losttoy
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 11, 2002 7:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have always wondered why they didn't mix one of those palm pilot type computers with cell communication and be able to veiw internet that way. The screens would be small and you can use your stylist to navigate. Drawing comics for the screens of the palm computers would be easier than the cell phone screens they have now, no matter if you can play games, take pictures on it or not. However I do true believe that this is a place that people should look to expand the art of comics. When the world recieved the internet, the canvas of comics changed ... but when the world gets a cell computer that can actauly download comics at a reasonable speed and image quality, comics canvas could again change its canvas. Likely it would be a panel by panel comic rather than something you would have to navigate through the page like on the web or on a print comic. Just my thoughts.
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davem
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 12, 2002 4:02 am    Post subject: Useful info Reply with quote

It seems Macromedia are serious about mobile devices, as they are developing Flash players specially for them:

http://www.macromedia.com/desdev/mobile/

There are lots of links here to other useful sites. I get the feeling there's a lot going on in this area. There's potential for webcomic authors to have large audiences, but I haven't found any webcomics yet specifically for mobiles. Maybe there are some? Anyone know?

I do agree that the screens on mobile phones are too small, but the technology is improving fast. I see people sending text messages all day - spending much more time using their mobile phone than the internet on a PC. Now that mobile phones are coming out with video capability (especially the J-phone in Japan) I think we are entering another phase. Maybe it's too early to do stuff for these devices?
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cdoc1
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 12, 2002 9:59 am    Post subject: palm pilots and mobile phones Reply with quote

At the recent COMDEX in Las Vegas I attended a presentation by Palm. They have a new model out that is a Palm Pilot, has an integrated qwerty keyboard and a cell phone. Look for the Palm Titanium T - so internet connectivity is pretty complete with their product - but it is still a very small screen for web comics.
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Alexander D.
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 12, 2002 10:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

losttoy wrote:
I have always wondered why they didn't mix one of those palm pilot type computers with cell communication and be able to veiw internet that way.


Actually, they've been doing this for a couple of years already. Any recent Palm OS device can be used for Internet access, so long as you have the software and the connectivity. Some use wireless modems, others plug into cell-phones, and actually use the cell-phone as a the modem. The new Treo device from Handspring is actually a PDA and a Cell phone merged into one device, taking wireless connectivity one step further.

One distinction that's important to note, though, is that most Intenet apps for PDAs are Web clipping, not Web browsing. It strips down whatever Web site you look at into the simplest possible form, in order to deal with the bandwidth and screen size problems. So this works best with Web sites custom tailored for PDA display. AvantGo is the most prominent Web clipping software, and is pretty good. I believe Windows based PDAs use actual Web browsing instead of clipping, but I'm not certain on that.

And yes, some Web comics have been distributed through AvantGo. Way back when Waiting for Bob was still updating, it was available as a Web channel for PDAs and mobile phones.
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Greg Stephens
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 12, 2002 2:43 pm    Post subject: Re: Useful info Reply with quote

davem wrote:
I see people sending text messages all day - spending much more time using their mobile phone than the internet on a PC.


Yeah, they're spending more time beacuse it takes ten times longer to peck out a text message on a cell phone than on a PC keyboard. We'll all have to be spelling like Prince in the future: "R U redE 2 go?"

cdoc2 wrote:
They have a new model out that is a Palm Pilot, has an integrated qwerty keyboard and a cell phone.


The Danger "hiptop" is already phone, PDA, camera and internet device with a QWERTY keyboard and I can't imagine Palm's device being much different. The "keyboard" may be an improvement over stylus or today's standard cell-phone keypad, but it's still going to be an incredibly tiny area in which to work with a screen that's only a few inches in size.

We're faced with the insurmountable issue of relative physical size, and until they start making pocket-sized humans, informational devices that are designed to display as much and as differing sorts of information as the internet currently provides will require an optimal screen size not that much smaller than half of a standard sheet of writing paper (whether your standard is letter or A4 size) and an input device that's comfortable and easy to use, which means at least the size of your hand. I expect something better than the keyboard to come along, which may invalidate the size requirements for input (voice-activated, for example), but for display, I think we have to accept that screens of a certain size and smaller are only good for producing eyestrain and of only very limited use for comics.
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BuckBeaver
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 17, 2002 2:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think that future mobile platform(s) - if not the presently existing cell phones - are something that should be looked at very seriously. The technology isn't quite ready for primetime (this thread reminds me of when some artist friends were discussing the potential of comics and animation on the web in 93 and 94) but alot of big companies are pouring millions upon millions in to developing mobile content.

I've already seen first hand fairly widespread acceptance of mobile content in Japan (although it was nothing to write home about when I was there) and I think that webcomics in some form could catch on once the audience reaches critical mass. Personally, I think one day we'll be downloading CNN video feeds to a portable device on the subway in the morning.

I think the creative challenge is to figure out what type of stories and characters audiences will respond to using mobile devices - and if the technology is ready. Can we work with the existing technology or do we have to wait for it to improve?
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Alexander D.
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 18, 2002 9:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

BuckBeaver wrote:
I think the creative challenge is to figure out what type of stories and characters audiences will respond to using mobile devices


My best guess -- they will respond to formats that can be viewed and absorbed quickly, while on the move, since that's the basis for mobile devices. Unfortunately, this probably means stale syndicate-style gag-a-day strips. With an emphasis on single panel cartoons.

Not what I would like to see happen, personally, but that's my prediction for the sort of work that's going to dominate. At least in the early days of mass market readership.
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lylebclarke
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 10, 2003 10:10 am    Post subject: Comics on mobile phones are going to be huge Reply with quote

Hi everyone. I have not posted here for a long time. Design College and a new baby daughter are keeping me busy.

OK, Comics for phones.

Comics on phones are going to be huge. Much bigger than webcomics ever have been or will be.

BUT, forget browsing on phones. Forget browsing because as of yet the networks are too slow, the usability is terrible, and there is no way for you to receive remuneration.

So how will it be done?

In Denmark you can subscribe to King Features comics which are then sent to you, in colour, panel by panel versions, every day.

The comics are sent by MMS, so you don't get that 14.4bps modem feeling. Basically, MMS works like SMS (text messaging). The data, in this case a comic, is sent to your phone, and completely downloaded, before your phone beeps, vibrates, or in some other way lets you know there is a message waiting. When you open the comic, or animation, you can see it straight away. When you are finished, you can also send it to a friend, or whatever you want, just like with an SMS or an e-mail. Simple and easy.

MMS has not taken off yet. Phones capable of displaying MMS only hit the market in September, and most Telco's don't yet support MMS anyway, and those that do have trouble talking to each others network etc. Exactly the same sort of teething trouble that SMS went through back in 1993 or so. Like SMS, time will be needed to have everything in MMS running smoothly. (If media reports are to be believed, text messaging is still only just becoming a big hit in the US, 10 years after it was first possible.)

MMS, when stable, is going to be big. The telco's are hard at work sort out the problems of MMS. It is the technology that Europe is putting into all its new phones, and the companies that sell the phones (Nokia, Ericsson, Siemens) are the same companies that make the MMS network gear for the telco's (both here, and in the US). The two go hand in hand. Nokia, who account for nearly 50% of the market here, recently showed off their new range of phones for sale in Europe. Every single phone had both a colour screen and MMS. (The only new B&W phone they came out with is destined for markets in the sub-saharan african continent.)

The telco's are also itching to have MMS up and running, because then they can start charging for the data flowing on the networks. Which is where your comics come in. It is very much in the telco's interest to have people reading comics, because that means money directly into their coffers. But compelling content is not free, and the telco's respect this, so they offer creators of content a revenue sharing deal. Exactly what the deals are, I can not tell you. I've heard of both juicy (50/50 split) and lousy (90/10, 90 to the telco) but I'm sure market forces will work out the price when they see how compelling your comic is on a phone.

Of course, there are lots of limitations to having comics on a phone. Just as there are lots of limitations to printing them on paper, and lots of limitations when showing them in a browser. But I'll leave the design considerations to you.

Now is the time to start. Just imagine if the technology in Europe hits mainstream in two years, and then in the US a year or so after. You will have had 3, maybe 4 years to build up a huge portfolio of excellent content. Whittle it down to the 365 best comics, and you will have one hell of a product to sell to the telco's. Get in early enough and you could find your comic listed under "comics" on the entertainment menu of all new Sprint phones sold in 2005.

"There's gold in them thar phones"

Cheers

Lyle

http://www.mooloo.com
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Greg Stephens
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 10, 2003 11:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

While I'm still of the belief that "phones is fer listenin' to; not lookin' at," I think you've made some excellent points. My one argument is the same one I've made before- "small viewscreens ain't great for comics." But I like the idea that people can subscribe to comics rather than browse for them and thus be alerted when the comic is already completely downloaded. That's an important distinction and perhaps this is the piece of the puzzle that was missing before.
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lylebclarke
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 10, 2003 5:53 pm    Post subject: Screens are getting bigger and better Reply with quote

You are totally correct Greg, "phones are fer listening' to; not lookin' at," - which is exactly why up until now the screens on phones have been so small.

Or at least that is the way it was. For many people these days mobile phones are used just as much for sending text messages as they are for phone conversations. When you are looking at your phone a lot, a bigger, more attractive screen is something worth paying extra for, and thus worth building into your product. As phone manufacturers know this, most normal phones today show several lines of text, and are considerably larger than when SMS first took off.

To see how lovely and big phone screens are getting at the top end of the ranges these days, try looking at some of these links. Nokia are just getting into large screens with the soon to be released Nokia 3650 and the already on the market Nokia 7650, Samsung have a large range of large screen phones in clam shell style like the Samsung SGH-P400, Panasonic have a similar large screen rage, Sony-Ericsson are just hitting the market with the P800, a tiny company from Sweden is taking on the big guns with their Neonode N1, NEC, LG, and a whole bunch of asian manufacturers I've never heard of are also coming out with these big screen phones. Microsoft is also in on the action with the SPV sticking their name and software onto capable phones from no-name manufacturers.

One of things that makes all these larger screens possible is that LCD screens are getting cheaper. Meanwhile, a newer screen technology called "Organic LED" is getting close to prime time for phones. OLED screens are not only cheaper, they are brighter, higher resolution, and show better colour than LCD screens.

Just like TV screens and computer screens, phone screens are getting bigger because people are spending more time in front of them. Sooner or later they are going to be more than good enough to bear comics with mass appeal.

Lyle
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Martinibianco
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 13, 2003 10:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello, I've also not posted in a while (btw hi Lyle, whatever happened to that whole Lo-Fi thing???)

MMS sprang to mind when I saw the title of this thread, too, but as usual the Scandinavians have beaten us to it!

My phone is a Sony T68i, which supports MMS, however I'm going to have to look into the subscription situation to make sure I'm able to send/receive messages in this format.

Sony Ericsson's website has a free MMS authoring tool available for download here: http://www.sonyericsson.com/imaging/en/tools/mmsHomeStudio/

I'll have a go at drumming something up and put it online. Presumably there's a way of getting MMS files by browsing to them on a cellphone HTML/WAP browser?
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lylebclarke
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 13, 2003 3:10 pm    Post subject: A couple of links you might find useful Reply with quote

Lo-fi died during September 2001 for a variety of reasons, none of them very good. I still think it would rock, but it needs a hellraiser to keep everything together, and when I started at Designskolen I ceased to be that guy.
--
For more info about creating MMS, don't miss Forum Nokia's MMS section. Also, I've just found an MMS example of Beetle Bailey (Jens Fup, in Danish). Also, I'm not totally sure what this page from Riach Telecom is about, but if it is rates paid for content, it might not be too shabby.
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losttoy
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 03, 2003 6:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just a comment about bandwidth ... as in why Japan and other nations have lots more advanced cell phones than America. As in the FCC limits what radio signals can be used and cell companies in America are struggling to be able to shove just normal talking in the small amount of they have ... let alone pictures, animation, e-mail or whatever. I see that cell comics may be hot in Japan one day, but probably not here in US. Just a guess.
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