Mobio — the useful mobile service

mobiologo.bmpMobio, a Cupertino start-up, is distinguishing itself by creating simple, useful services for the mobile phone.

We wrote about the company when it released its movie service — which lists movie reviews, times and maps.

Today, Mobio kicks off a 100 more services, many of them handy for kicking round town. There’s everything from OpenTable, flower-buying, dating services to flight-time checks.

Mobio is just the latest mobile company to ditch your stupid, slow cellphone Web browser. Forget it. As long as you’ve got a Java-enabled phone, you can download Mobio’s software and surf Web info from within the phone application (Mobio launches compatible with 20 phones, which accounts for about 60 percent of the market). It effectively lets you crawl the web, only in a more efficient mobile style, free of keyboard.

Take for example the OpenTable application (see screenshots at left). You select OpenTable from main the menu. Then you can use a search bar to find a restaurant in your locale. The Mobio app tells you if a table is free • the same information you’d find on the OpenTable Web site.

mobio2.bmpMobio does all this by using a so-called “mediating” server. In the background, while you are using your phone, the server connects with the various Mobio services (OpenTable, etc), drawing information from them, to deliver to you if you select it. Mobio’s proprietary protocol communicates between the device and the server.

The first application is written in Java. Mobio is rolling out Windows Mobile, Symbian, Blackberry and BREW versions over the course of this year, Ramneek Bhasin, CEO of Mobio, tells Venturebeat.

Mobio focuses on local content. The services are designed to be accessible with three clicks or less.

There are lots of other features we haven’t mentioned. Let’s say you like wine. You can go online before shopping, and configure your Mobio account so that it draws wine tasting notes from a wine connoisseur’s public Kaboodle account. Then, as you shop, Mobio draws info from that account, and serves it to your phone, and you can peruse the notes as you shop — or impress your girlfriend while picking out wine during dinner.

It’s all free. You enter some basic personal information to register before downloading the service.

Mobio has raised $9 million from Interwest and Storm Ventures, among others.