Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Hardware Standards Proliferating

The Register has a tantalizing and extraordinary glimpse of a 'new' Samsung device, which is both a mobile phone and a fold-out 5" digital viewer. Here is a YouTube of the device clamped in a showcase at a trade show:

The market for mobile phones and similar (or dissimilar) devices will explode in the next three years. They will be a lot smarter and more content aware than today's models. Publishers are not yet thinking hard about these potential markets. The Samsung device will make it very easy to consider reading a digital edition of a book or a newspaper on the move.

The very diversity of these devices will make it impractical for publishers to create different versions of their properties for different platforms. Rather than re-format and re-package content for devices with varying interfaces and form factors, much better to offer a digital edition that can be served and used through any valid web browser. Let the browser take the strain as Apple have done so magnificently well with the new Safari on the iPhone. Safari defeats the small scale of the screen by allowing web pages and images to be squeezed and slid around within the browser. I wonder if Samsung's fold-away marvel has a touch screen?

I am so enchanted by my iPhone that I am already spending quite a lot of my time on the move looking at content. Favourite sites such as the BBC, the NY Times and the Guardian, seem poorly adapted to iPhone delivery. These sites have too many columns, the links are sometimes over-dense and the lack of thumbnail perspective is disorienting. The newspapers are perhaps better than the BBC, which is particularly irritating since it shoehorns one to a clunky mobile version of the site which is poorer than it needs to be on the iPhone. Is this the last hurrah of WAP? I have a strong intuition (perhaps not solely and entirely motivated by bias) that the Exact Editions use of the original format of content as pages, aided by search, linkage and thumbnails is clearly the way to go.....Don't reformat when you go digital, do let the browser take the strain, do embrace the new platforms with books, newspapers and magazines exactly as they were meant to be: searchable and citeable digital editions.

No comments: