July 19, 2006

Topix.net/ZIP: Local News + Mobile Support = Best Mobile News Site

by tolles at 5:32 PM

It took our CEO buying a Blackberry to make it happen, but we just launched our new Topix.net/ZIP service, including support for mobile devices. It's really cool. You can now get local news for every ZIP code in the country by just entering it into the URL on your browser. For example www.topix.net/94303 which gets you the news for here in Palo Alto. The devices supported include Blackberries, Treos, PalmOS phones, Windows CE, AvantGo, SonyEricsson, Symbian, Nokia, and many others. Also, you can use the new URL schema on a normal (desktop) web browser as well.

If you're looking for news about your town, or want to do a news search, or just look at the top headlines of the day, I think we have the best site out there right now. We auto-detect your device, and show your browser the optimized version (and in a cool trick, we even check for screen size, so if you have some WinCE device with a bigger screen we give you're the normal version, but with a smaller screen, you get the optimized site).

Oh, and before I get the obvious question -- yes, you'd think that RSS would have solved all of this. We ship all 32,500 of our ZIP code feeds for your news reader, and all 360,000 news channels as well as any one of our Search results via RSS. I use Bloglines on my Treo, and get some of my Topix.net feeds on it, and I use 4info for headlines on SMS (they license our feeds, and do a pretty good job for SMS delivered news and other info).

But it turns out that I don't really want to muck with signing up for a feed most of the time on my mobile device, I just want to go to the news I want about what I care about. Also, when I want to do a news search for something while I'm mobile, it's unlikely that I'm going to have it pickled into a feed prior to the search. So you *could * use RSS to do all of this, or you could squint, and look at Topix.net as sort of an RSS reader that automatically sorts through 50,000 mainstream news and blog sites to bring you exactly what you want on your desktop, or now, on your mobile device. So, if you like getting your news via our feeds on your mobile device, great. If you want our news on your mobile device without going through a feed reader, this is a nice addition.

One shoutout - we found a great list of mobile user agents over on Zytrax.com. those have put a bunch of nice stuff out on their site, and this made it a lot easier to make this happen. Oh yeah, and while it took our CEO buying a blackberry to make it happen, he also wrote the code over the weekend to make it work.

Full press release in the extended entry.