AOL Pushes the Gas Pedal on Mobile

AOL at one time said it was going to help consumer-users adopt the mobile Internet in the same way it helped get millions online on the PC. The company bought mobile ad network Third Screen Media in 2007 and had an ambitious mobile “platform” initiative. But the seismic shifts at the company over the past two years, the personnel changes and the spin out of TimeWarner caused most of AOL’s mobile momentum to slow or stop entirely. Third Screen was rolled into AOL’s Platform A and largely disappeared. So did the platform effort. But there are now a number of signs that AOL is building momentum in mobile again. The most recent of these was yesterday’s announcement of the acquisition of mobile development shop Rally Up. Characterized by the Associated Press as “a location-based social networking service,” the acquisition is less about any of the specific mobile applications the nine-person startup has built than acquiring the talent and expertise they will bring to AOL. It also marks the beginning of a new “mobile first” approach that will build products exclusively for the mobile market:
Mobile-first marks a new approach to the mobile market at AOL. For the first time, AOL mobile applications will consist not only of mobile versions of its popular desktop and web offerings, but also will include all-new products that launch first on mobile devices. The infusion of mobile product development talent provided by the Rally Up team will provide AOL with an additional spark to ignite its mobile-first initiatives.  
Major portals and publishers online will absolutely need to extend their products to mobile as many are now doing. But mobile is a unique medium that demands specific attention and simply “mobilizing” portal or publisher content won’t always work.