Wolfram Alpha, the company's "computational knowledge engine." Many pundits speculated that Wolfram decided to shutter the mobile site in order to drive more users to the company's $50 iPhone app. Earlier this morning, we got a chance to talk to Schoeller Porter, Wolfram's product manager for the iPhone app. According to Schoeller, the reason for killing the mobile site was simple: not enough people were using it.Yesterday, Wolfram Research shut down the iPhone-optimized version of
It is important to remember that while Wolfram offered an iPhone optimized landing page, the actual results pages were always identical to those of the regular web version. All Wolfram did was shut down this landing page. According to Porter, users can still get the same result pages by entering their queries into the search box on the default Wolfram Alpha website. Porter argues that nothing of substance was actually removed.
Why Did Wolfram Kill the Mobile Landing Page?
In our conversation, Schoeller Porter pointed out that this landing page was only meant to be a test, and traffic to the site had decreased to the point where the company simply decided to pull the plug.
It's not surprising that Porter would defend Wolfram's decision to shut down the mobile site as a traffic issue, and not as a ploy to sell more of the company's pricey mobile app. According to Porter, users can still choose to get a good mobile experience through the website and those users who need a mobile experience can always get the mobile app. Until now, though, the mobile landing page offered a happy medium between the regular desktop website and the mobile app.
Currently, the team wants to focus on enhancing the experience on the default website and the mobile app; Wolfram is also thinking about mobile apps for Android and BlackBerry.
Why Not Just Keep the Mobile Site Up?
One could argue, however, that it really wouldn't have cost Wolfram a lot of money or manpower to keep the mobile landing page up for the time being. The company also didn't help itself by killing the mobile site without any explanation on its blog. The fact that the mobile site now features a big add for the iPhone app only helped to fuel the speculation about Wolfram's intentions.