In the early days of mobile websites, several attempts at ‘mobile transcoding’ or occasionally ‘screen scraping’ based solutions appeared, working by taking the fully assembled www pages, removing all the styles and formatting and then rewriting the page using a new template that describes how the old layout is translate to the new one.
These solutions, now made obsolete by Steely Eye’s Multichannel platform, suffer from five significant problems:
The process involves the existing web server creating the www page before another server then removes all of the formatting: it then adds mobile formatting back in. As a consequence, at least 3 times the effort goes into creating each page, resulting in high page load latency and ultimately higher running costs as three times the server capacity is required to service the same load.
Since the transcoding relies upon the format of the original site being parse-able, all but the most minor changes to www site content can break the transcoding. This leads to corrupt mobile web pages and therefore requires 24/7 support to continually fix the transcoding, resulting in higher cost of ownership.
3. Hosting inflexibility
Because of the need for the hosting vendor to constantly update the transcoding, the servers must be hosted in their own environments and cannot be self-hosted by the client on their own internal or preferred external hosting environments. The client is therefore locked in to one vendor and hostage to their pricing because switching costs are high.
4. Mobile only
Such solutions suffer from requiring independent installations to be set up for each channel type that you wish to support. Supporting, for example, a Facebook or web TV channel requires a new implementation of the transcoding which has to be provided by the hosting provider at whatever price they wish to charge.
Ultimately, all of the points above result in additional, hidden and unnecessary costs. The 24/7 support requirements to make changes every time the content changes on www breaking the transcoding mean that annual fees in excess of £100,000 are common for these solutions; bigger more expensive servers are needed because of wasteful use of resources, customers are less likely to use slow and poorly-templated sites resulting in lost revenues.
As a result, those who do still use such solutions refer to them using words such as “stopgap” and “tactical solutions” and are no longer recommended as a robust future proof solution to the problem.