Mobile Madness

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With even MySpace and bloggers rushing to hawk their wares on cellphones (look for the “Fishbowl Mobile” package on Cingular in Q3) I thought it might be opportune to check in with The Wall Street Journal’s Walt Mossberg, who has the documented power to kill this little trendlet in the crib.

Mossberg weighs in today on Mobile ESPN, the absurdly hyped (including a Super Bowl spot) service that launched a thousand profile stories about the network’s multiplatform ambitions. To make a long review short, he’s impressed with the interface and some of the features, although he’s a little taken aback by the price — $200 for the dedicated phone, plus $35 a month for the service — and the niggling little detail that ESPN actually censors users’ Web surfing, including anyone trying to log on to SI.com:

“Even worse, ESPN has crippled the phone’s Web browser by blocking access to some sites. When I tried to go to several sites, including those of competitors like Sports Illustrated, I got a screen that said ESPN only allows you to go to “reviewed” sites it believes “work well on your ESPN phone.” That’s an outrageous level of control, in my view. You can get around this iron fist by doing a Google search in the Web browser and then clicking on one of the links Google produces, but that shouldn’t be necessary… ESPN concedes it allows users to access only those Web sites it has approved, but it says this is a temporary measure designed to protect its software from the “corruption” that it says can be introduced if users download programs from certain sites. The company says the restriction on visiting unapproved sites will be lifted later this year, though the phone will still prevent the download of unapproved software.

And the phone might self-destruct if you attempt to log into Deadspin.