BOLT, the mobile browser from NASDAQ listed company Bistream, has incorporated streaming flash support in its new version (BOLT 2.1) for two of Hungama Digital Media’s properties – Hungama.com and BollywoodHungama.com, alongwith MTV.com, Nick.com, BBC.co.uk, Maniatv.com, SVTplay.se, apart from YouTube, CNN.com, ESPN.com, Video.google.com, Video.yahoo.com, Vids.myspace.com, Blip.tv, Dailymotion.com, Metacafe.com, Rutube.ru and mocospace.com. Usually, one has to download flash videos on the handset to view them. The new version supports for HTML 5, has deeper integration with Facebook to include Facebook’s instant messenger.
I tried out BOLT, and I must say it is incredibly fast, though the quality of the display isn’t exactly crystal clear: and at times parts of websites weren’t clearly visible (for Twitter sign in, for example, the form for entering username and password wasn’t visible). What I didn’t like, though, was the fact that it even for sites like Twitter (or for that matter MediaNama.com), which have mobile versions, BOLT displays the web versions. Sure, it saves a lot of time and bandwidth to load the full site, but mobile versions of websites are designed for a particular form factor, particularly when you’re accessing it, like I was, from an N95 handset. I don’t mind a different interface, as long as it doesn’t have horizontal scrolling.
Still, BOLT has a password manager, a download/upload manager, widgets (weather, calendar, Twitter), and importantly, a tabbed interface. Like its competitor Opera Mini, BOLTs compression reduces data consumption (4%, they claim), compared to other moble browsers. In countries like India, where not everyone has a smart phone, this will work rather well.
BOLT is probably seeking OEM or telecom operator deals in India: Opera Mini tied up with Vodafone recently in a multi-country deal. Do look at this Opera Mini case study with Tata Indicom (pdf). Why would mobile operators in India would push browsers that enable lower data usage, given that this market is mostly pay-per-use.