Skweezer has been around for some time now, and it was a paid service. It's actually a proxy that refits web content to a small device screen, like Pocket PC, Palm and Smartphone. It's a useful tool that allows users to access large pages on small screen devices. But it does it in a dynamic way, on request from the users.
Until a month or so it was a subscription based service. Greenlight Wireless is now offering Skweezer on a free version that like other products is subsidized by advertising. This model includes even the Opera browser, which show ads on its free version.
Now, Jason Calacanis (the weblog entrepreneur) posted his concerns about this service on his blog. I think he got the things wrong.
The blog entry gives the impression that Skweezer grabs the content and redistribute it. It also gives the impression that it does it by syndicating RSS feeds, which is also not true.
As for my comments, to save my time Iíll just post here the same comments I've posted on his blog:
"I think there's a problem with the way this service is perceived here.
The Skweezer services is not using your content actively. It does not go around collecting content and posting on their website, like some scammers do trying to make money of AdSense.
The Skweezer service is dynamic - they don't scrap the content and host themselves. They only get the content requested by a user and reformat it. They do this by requesting the page from the server, not by reading a RSS feed.
Don't mix RSS syndication with content reformatting.
Folks, listen to me. This is a PROXY service that refits the content, removes HTML tags that will not work on some (limited) browser available for Palm, Pocket PC and mobile phones.
In no way they are marketing this for the masses to use at home on their desktops.
I think the whole debate is because of revenue impact due to proxy services usage. You can read the next paragraphs, or jump to the last one ;)
Follow http://www.geekzone.co.nz/content.asp?contentid=1216 to find an article from July 2003, when I first saw Skweezer working. At that time Skweezer was by subscription only (the free, ad based model was introduced last month). Also, I link to another two free services (these were free since their start).
You'll see that Skweezer (the paid version), is more than a proxy service. It's also a web browser based e-mail client.
This kind of tools were available for some time and lots of sites covering mobile (Pocket PC, Palm, mobile phones) have known these tools for a while. Interesting that only now this is an issue.
I also live of the revenue generated from Geekzone, and it's in my interest to have as many impressions as possible.
However, if a few impressions go to a mobile device through a service like Skweezer at least I capture my audience, in the hopes they will read Geekzone later on a full-blown desktop browser.
Shall we also contact these companies since their browsers are removing the adverts?
I've followed an interesting thread on http://www.webmasterworld.com about popup and ad blockers. In that thread (I can't find it now), webmasters were discussing if programs like Norton, Zone Alarm and others were impacting on their revenue streams, seeing that they block all ads by default, and users were not even aware of this behavior, and not willing to change the settings.
Just an idea (YMMV), but in my site I think up to 40% of the impressions do not print the banners. I blame this on ad blockers, and really think users should be aware of this.
Back to the topic, users on mobile phones with Opera (Windows Mobile or Symbian) will not see the ads anyway. By using a service like Skweezer they have a chance of reducing the mobile on-line cost by reducing the size of the page being transferred. Skweezer is not (AFAIK) intended to be used on desktops. It's for users of small devices. If their stats are correct, loading the Geekzone homepage on Skweezer saves the user 11.8KB. On a GPRS connection this is a $0.02 saving per page loaded. Remember that in the US operators offer unlimited GPRS plans, but Europe, Australia/New Zealand are different markets with different economics.
Perhaps they should limit the access to mobile browsers? It is an idea. One of the free services I've reviewed before does it already.
Ok, their free service place their ads on the pages downloaded (actually only a couple of text links on the bottom), this is your point. It's a business model to keep the service. They're not stealing the content per se, but instead reducing your revenue streams. This is the main concern."
I agree with Jasonís post in that Skweezer shouldnít remove adverts though. Itís the only revenue site publishers (including myself) have. Website owners are only paid by adverts that are shown. If users find a website that abuses of advertising, than block it by not visiting the site anymore. Using Ad Blockers just cut the main revenue stream from most websites. CPM is already very low, and with 40% of ads not being show, itís even lower.
Another problem is copyright. Skweezer is used by owners of mobile devices. Sooner or later these users will sit in front of a desktop and visit their favourite sites, most likely without using Skweezer. And because they know theyíre looking at content from these sites they also know Skweezer is not claiming ownership.
The company behind Skweezer (GreenLight Wireless) has since posted their reply on their own corporate blog.
I think the whle thing comes down to revenue streams.