R.I.P. Tao Group

Tao Group has apparently perished. According to reports, the group is in administration. Their IP portfolio was apparently sold off to Cross Atlantic Capital Partners, a VC that lists Tao Media Ltd as a portfolio company. No further news though...

This marks the demise of a remarkable company: their Intent platform presented an opportunity to run console-quality 3D games on existing chip sets that would blow you away (at 3GSM 2006, I saw a demo of an FPS on a Motorola V3x chipset that was simply awesome!). Besides whatever internal issues there might have been, their trouble might just have been the chicken-and-egg-thing: developers shied away from developing heavy native 3D games whilst the platform was not installed anywhere. Carriers hesitated to commit for similar reasons and the OEM waited until content was available and carriers in place to distribute it (which was important due to existing data thresholds for games.

My favourite piece of technology of theirs was, however, the BAFTA-winning, fantastic miniMIXA, which you can learn about a little here. The website for the product itself is down as of today but there is a good article here... Some rather cool videos showing samples of the software in real-life action can be seen here and here. They also ran the music for their party at 3GSM 2007 entirely through a miniMIXA-equipped Windows Mobile handheld. Awesome!

Make sure to also visit the blog of Tim Cole, miniMIXA's daddy and a very fine man indeed.

Mobile YouTube lukewarm

YouTube appears to have put its mobile site live: under http://m.youtube.com/ you now get a slimmed-down version of the YouTube service. However, that's about it. The site starts with a warning: "YouTube Mobile is a data intensive application. We highly recommend that you upgrade to an unlimited data plan with your mobile service provider to avoid additional charges." I see, OK, well, why didn't you adapt this more appropriately then? Isn't this somewhat scary???

What follows is clips varying in length (tonight, there were 2 with more than 4 minutes length in the top 10). A couple of categories (highest rated, newly added, etc - in short: the usual suspects) but absolutely nothing that would suggest a specifically mobile offering. I find this rather disappointing. Shouldn't we be able to expect more when "two kings have gotten together"?

So what is this? Don't they understand mobile? Didn't they have enough time to study this during their Verizon exclusive that now expired? Do they not have the resource to design their mobile service so as to provide more than a simple extension of their existing site into mobile (but without the functionalities the online version has)? The WAP offering lacks the very features and navigation, etc that arguably contributed so much to YouTube's success. They'll have to up the ante drastically to get going on the small screen, too. This doesn't cut it!