July 8, 2010, 6:21 PM

Akamai strives to burst through with faster mobile sites

Akamai is out to make it easier to process m-commerce burst sessions.

With its acquisition of Velocitude, a company that specializes in transforming web content to render properly on mobile devices, Akamai Technologies Inc. is out to make it easier to process m-commerce burst sessions, such as finding a store’s location in less than 30 seconds.

“We’re providing the ability get on the Internet faster over Wi-Fi or with the 3G,” says Pedro Santos, Akamai’s chief strategist for e-commerce.

With Velocitude, Akamai is now in the business of helping companies like car e-marketplace AutoNation.com to present m-commerce sites based on content transferred from its conventional e-commerce web site without having to build separate mobile commerce infrastructure. Akamai’s content acceleration technology, meanwhile, is able to sit close enough to the end user to ensure quick content transmissions, Santos adds.

Although Akamai isn’t saying yet just how much faster it expects consumers to be able to load web content onto mobile devices, the company appears to have the technology needed to make a difference, says Hung LeHong, research vice president, retail advisory services, at technology research and advisory firm Gartner Inc.

LeHong notes, for instance, that while Akamai has the technology to accelerate content from the web to mobile devices, Velocitude provides expertise in technology workflow that supports how consumers access mobile content. “The Velocitude acquisition is a logical complement to Akamai’s vision of improving the customer experience on mobile,” he says.

To provide a good user experience on mobile devices, content providers often have to build shortcuts to let users access content in a more streamlined fashion than on web sites, LeHong says. “In a scenario where a consumer wants to check a product review via a mobile device really quickly, say, in under 30 seconds, the retailer needs to considerably modify the navigation path that exists on traditional e-commerce sites,” Lehong says.

Instead of making a site visitor search for a product, scroll down a page, and click a “Check reviews” button, a retailer’s mobile site might feature a “Check reviews” button right on its welcome screen—similar to the way airlines offer a “Check flight status” link as a primary option on their mobile sites and apps, LeHong says. Velocitude’s technical expertise supports the development of such shortcuts, he adds.

“Velocitude focuses on workflow as well as content optimization,” he says. “The workflow capability is very important in building burst session mobile experiences. Add Akamai’s potential acceleration in mobile, and you get a strong combination.”

To be successful over the long term with mobile commerce, retailers will need to offer capabilities on mobile devices not also available on traditional e-commerce web sites, such as local search and promotions based on where a consumers happens to be at any time, LeHong says. And they’ll have to make it easy and fast for consumers to access such information.

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