Publishing Technology, plc (www.publishingtechnology.com) previewed its latest publisher product, IngentaConnect Mobile, at the Online Information 2008 Conference in London in early December. Still in trial, several academic publishers currently hosted on the IngentaConnect (IC) platform, including Springer, Maney Publishing, the Charleston Co. (Charleston Advisor), Berg, and the Society of American Foresters, are testing the application, which allows subscribers to read articles and abstracts on their mobile devices. George Lossius, CEO of Publishing Technology, sees mobile content delivery as one way to reach those wired hearts and minds of a younger demographic, specifically, college undergraduates.
Louise Tutton, SVP of Publishing Technology’s scholarly division, says, "This initial release is really a trial phase, where Publishing Technology hopes to gain additional insight on how these users respond to and also use the content delivered on this platform. Although abstracts will be delivered initially, it is important to move away from replicating the print content and look very creatively at how to repackage content for a mobile device."
There is no doubt that a strong market for data delivered via mobile platforms exists and is growing rapidly. According to CTIA-The Wireless Association (http://ctia.org), "an amazing 250-million Americans are now subscribers to some sort of cell phone plan. That’s a massive 82.4 percent of the U.S. population." Even more impressive is the increase in data use on cell phones. CTIA numbers indicate that in 2006, 22 million people, a 600% increase over the prior year, were subscribing to some kind of high-speed mobile data plan, defining a plan as the kind that enables web access, music and video downloads, and sending pictures.
Further research done by the Pew Internet & American Life Project (www.pewinternet.org) reinforces the age group that Publication Technology has targeted. Recent Pew studies show young adults (those between the ages of 18 and 29) are most likely, on a typical day, to use their cell phones or PDAs to access a nonvoice data application; 73% with wireless handheld devices do so. This compares to the average of 42% of those with cell phones or PDAs who use a nonvoice data application on their devices on the typical day.
However, Pew continues, the 30–49 age range also shows a predilection to use wireless access, particularly with respect to devices that are often adjuncts to people’s jobs. About one in five (18%) internet users in this age group have gone online using a wireless connection at work and 15% have a PDA that connects wirelessly. As to other types of wireless use, one-third (32%) of internet users in the 30–49 age range have logged on wirelessly from any location and 24% have connected to the internet by wireless means from a place other than home or work.
As more and more business applications become available via mobile devices, the number of older Americans using cells for data products should continue to grow. Certainly, Thomson and Hoovers/D&B would seem to support this increase among business users and have both released new mobile products recently. Thomson has several products including Thomson Healthcare’s Clinical Xpert mobile solution, Thomson ONE Mobile for financial information, Thomson ONE Corporate Intelligence, and Thomson ONE for investment management. In early November, Hoovers announced the first two releases of a new product line offering mobile access to company and professional contact information: Hoover’s Mobile, a browser-based application for iPhone users, and Hoover’s Mobile SP for BlackBerry and Windows Mobile Smartphone.
A critical component of any mobile data product is its ability to talk to any type of device seamlessly with little or no setup required on behalf of the user. Publishing Technology also anticipated this in its choice of partners, Dutch mobile media specialists MoMac. MoMac’s GoMedia application automatically optimizes content and functionality to all handset models currently in the market, regular phones and smartphones as well as PDAs and BlackBerries, thereby providing a truly device-neutral solution. Lossius explains further: "MoMac’s application detects what type of device is being used whether it is a 5-year-old cell phone or a brand new iPhone, and adjusts the device settings and display features for that model automatically without any additional set up required by the user."
Because media-neutral formatting underlies all of these new applications, Publishing Technology has also introduced another new, internal service that has been designed to help publishers who are currently on the IC platform to migrate more easily from PDF to XML by providing a combined typesetting and digital production offering. Lossius continues, "Since many publishers rely heavily on PDF which is much too dense a format for cell phone delivery, providing an easy to use XML conversion feature to publishers, will help them jumpstart their content reuse initiatives regardless of delivery platform or device. With the new digital production tool, Publishing Technology provides publishers with another important means to help them address more agnostic publishing platforms and further deconstruct the traditional boundaries keeping publishers from fully embracing digital endeavors."
Publishing Technology’s mission focuses on providing support tools, technology, and services to the publishing community, thereby enabling publishers to create more agile content for reuse and more streamlined integration of their offline and online activities. Lossius also referenced future enhancements to the company’s Information Commerce Software (ICS) that is designed specifically for the marketing and sale of digital assets. "The new features will enable the sales and marketing staff to easily manage complex entitlements, create new licensing models, create new product bundles, and apply unique pricing and special promotions to their products. ICS helps publisher marketing staff utilize a blend of registration demographics and usage behavior to identify trends and create personalized products to meet the needs of unique customers or customer groups."
Is mobile content here to stay? With the release of the iPhone in 2007, as well as several more smart mobile devices, it’s extremely likely that this growth will only continue, potentially ousting the laptop as the mobile tool of choice. What will ultimately define success in the wireless world will no longer be who has what technology but, instead, what types of applications and services may be run on the network and how many customers want these products badly enough to pay for them.
It seems The Who had it right all along, and the band’s teenage anthem still rings true:
"I’m goin’ home, and when I want to go home I’m goin’ mobile
Well, I’m gonna find a home and we’ll see how it feels
Keep me movin’."
The Who, Peter Townsend, Who’s Next, c1971