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Advertising vs. Usability

February 4th, 2005 · No Comments · Internet

One thing I wish that my phone/internet-in-my-pocket Sidekick gadget had was something like AvantGo. I would love to be able to download a dozen or two web pages daily and have them cached for quick reading, especially at times when there is so no signal, like on the subway.

Alas, there is no easy to cache web content on the Sidekick.

Up until recently, I’ve enjoyed a few newsletters from Slate, specifically the great feature “Today’s Papers“. I also get the Slate Culture newsletters. Between the two, I’d have at least two emails a day with something worth reading.

Since the service is free, I can hardly begrudge Slate for the text ad that gets inserted into the top of the newsletter emails. They do need to make money, after all. And the ads hardly impacted the usability of the newsletter.

But I guess this wasn’t working so well for Slate. Instead, they’ve opted to stop publishing the entire articles in the newsletters, but instead they only have an initial excerpt with a “click here to read this article” link at the bottom. Obviously they are looking to get more eyeballs on to the ad rich web page. Problem is, I get the newsletter because I don’t have easy access to the web page from my Sidekick.

For the sake of advertising, they’ve broken their newsletters for me. There’s no point for me to get them any more. Instead of getting the one or two text ads per email, I will get nothing, since I will unsubscribe. Well done, Slate. I’ll now have to visit Today’s Paper on the web site to get my dose of meta-news, but the other features of Slate I won’t bother with.

Or, I can use the great (and free) service at PageGetter. This resource is very useful for Sidekick owners, as it allows you to send an email to an address (text at pagegetter.com) with an URL as the body of the message, and typically a few minutes later you get a reply with a text version of the page at the URL you sent. This is great for large web pages, like the some of the ones at GameFaqs, which cause the Sidekick browser to time out because of the length.

Pagegetter is the closest thing to a web caching tool for the Sidekick that I’ve found. And perhaps I’ll start using it to fetch Today’s Papers. So instead of viewing Slate’s ads, I’ll be viewing Pagegetter’s. Somehow, I don’t think that’s what Slate intended, but that’s what they’ve caused.

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