Thursday, April 12, 2007

Evolving from lists to objects: a story of ZenZui, TAT and Apple

Examining the UI for three popular mobile devices ...

"Reuters has this article on ZenZui, a company spun out off Microsoft’s research labs to commercialise a new interface tool for mobile devices. ZenZui’s Zoomspace enables users to customise the interface of their handset with a pattern of individual tiles linked directly to content and services. When browsing through the tiles, the user sees a thumbnail view of the service and simply clicks to zoom into the full content.

ZenZui’s technology keeps the tiles constantly updated in the background, presumably pre-caching some of the content on the device and using powerful server-side processing to grab thumbnails of each service. A company called Snap has pioneered a similar concept for the desktop web, providing instant thumbnail views of the hyperlink destinations when the user hovers the mouse over the relevant piece of text.

ZenZui is still in the early stages of commercial rollout. It has scored USD 12m in a recent funding round and is now looking for operator partners to deploy the service. The business model is based around advertising, promising zero cost to the operator and zero cost to the consumer. ZenZui is recruiting marketeers to sell advertising space relating to each ’tile’, ensuring users receive relevant promotions and advertisers get good leads.

If you want to see the concept for yourself, check out the preview video on their web-site.

I’m impressed with ZenZui on a visual level, but I think their business model will be much less simple than they anticipate. Operators tend to be cautious by nature and are unlikely to deploy a ZenZui as their sole interface solution. This means they are also unlikely to buy into ZenZui handling the advertising sales and will instead want the company to work with their existing advertising partners - e.g. Google, Yahoo, Admob, etc… - which will limit ZenZui’s remit to that of a clever technology supplier."    (Continued via MEX)    [Usability Resources]

The ZenZui Interface - Usability, User Interface Design

The ZenZui Interface

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