Tag Archives: Adaptive Web Techology

Are ‘phablets’ a rival for e-reading devices?

The above video is a shocking yet accurate depiction of the growing smartphone-obsessed culture which is becoming apparent within society. The New York Times posted this intriguing article a couple of weeks ago, ‘More Connected, Yet More Alone‘, and talks of Charlene deGuzman’s reasons behind making the video. Nick Bilton, the person who wrote the article, speculates whether smartphones are having their ‘TV-in-the-kitchen-moment’?

From the video, I can definitely see how it relates to today’s society. Particularly with social media playing a prominent role in people’s day-to-day lives, and the recent developments in mobile phone technology over the years, it is so much more easier to connect virtually than it ever has been; so much so that I believe that people are becoming obsessed with it. The day after the New York Times posted this article, The Guardian published an article stating that phablets are big in Asia-Pacific, equalling tablets and laptops combined.

The Guardian reported that 25.2 million phablets – ‘large-screened phones with screen sizes of between 5in and 7in diagonally’ – are shipped in the Asia-Pacific (excl. Japan), roughly the same amount of devices shipped as tablets (12.6 million) and laptops (12.7 million) combined (figures from research company, IDC). It is believed that it is Samsung’s Galaxy Note, inspired by Dell’s Streak phone in 2010, which has truly sparked the surge in phablet technology.

Looking at the evidence, it made me wonder how it will affect publishing in the future…

I wrote about this earlier in the year with my blog post: ‘Adaptive Web Technology and Publishing‘ and even the figures mentioned there stated that by 2016, 2.1 billion mobile browsers will use HTML5 browsers, therefore adding to the current 17% of the world’s population which has a mobile subscription.

As it can be seen from the articles in the NYT and The Guardian, more phablets than laptops and tablets combined are being shipped in Eastern parts of the world – imagine what the figures would be should Western parts of the world be included, too. For me, it poses the question as to whether e-reading devices such as the Kindle could soon become old news, especially if technology is moving towards a smartphone future…

Publishers are already recognising that ensuring their content is available through smartphones is adamant. For example, academic publisher, Cambridge University Press’s ‘Cambridge Journals Online’ platform has launched a Mobile version. In addition, publishers such as Penguin have launched various Apps to use on mobiles and tablet devices, Kindle has an App which is available to use on devices other than Kindles, and with social media sites such as Twitter, publishers are able to interact with the end-consumer on a regular basis.

What’s to say, that we ourselves, aren’t publishers? For those who use Twitter, Facebook, and other social media outlets, every post, tweet, and status is published for the world to see. Phablets make this easy and with the growing obsession of ‘connecting’ with one another, it appears that we are increasingly moving into a world where access to content is constantly in demand.

Personally, I do not believe that phablets are a serious threat to e-reading devices… yet. The article from The Guardian only takes into account the figures for Asia-Pacific, and it is already common knowledge that the technological market is by far greater and more advanced than other parts of the world. E-reading devices such as the Kindle will continue to develop, and while the ‘I Forgot My Phone’ video shows people using their smartphones, not Kindles/iPads etc., I believe that the majority of people may not necessarily make the link of reading books on their smartphones just yet. Saying that, I do feel that the concept of publishing on a wide scale is pretty much there when it comes to smartphone technology.

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Adaptive Web Technology and Publishing

I’ve just found an interesting report on Adaptive Web Technology which was promoted by Netbiscuits on Twitter.

The report stated the urgent need for business leaders to ‘evaluate mobile web strategies’ to accommodate for the fast paced rate of web evolution. It is thought that there are currently 1.2 billion mobile subscriptions in the world (17% of the global population).

It is predicted that mobile internet usage will soon take over desktop internet usage, with web connection being made available through watches, cars, glasses (Google Glass, anyone?), household appliances and not to mention the transforming models for televisions and gaming consoles.

Of course, with every new piece of technology, there are multiple issues to consider. Some of the issues mentioned in the report include:

  • Browser windows on mobiles are not resizable like those on a laptop, for example.
  • Varying input methods: computers/laptops require a mouse and clicking, whereas on a mobile, you are most likely using ‘multi-finger gestures’ when navigating through pages.
  • Differing contextual usage: smartphones and tablets = on the go vs. desktops = serious working time.

The report states that by 2016, 2.1 billion mobile browsers will have adopted HTML5 browsers, therefore there will be increasing pressure for mobile developers.

So, what does this mean in the publishing world?

Ebook technology is already available on mobile devices through apps, and of course the Kindle and other tablets such as iPad accommodate for ebooks. I believe that as ebooks evolve, the interaction which they will be able to provide will be enhanced by mobile technology. Particularly for academic ebooks and journals, links to external web pages and videos will be emphasised by this evolving web technology. I think fiction books could evolve with this kind of technology, too. Think Pottermore but on a larger scale. Can you image published ebooks which are also accommodated with a virtual world? Of course I can immediately think of a multitude of additional disadvantages to the idea (for a start it would take away the reader’s perception of the story) however, I do feel that small additional snippets to accommodate the story could work.

I also wrote an entry a while back detailing a talk I attended which was given by Stephen Bourne about Imagineering the Book Trade in 2050 and how he stated that books in small chucks would be available on mobile devices and accessed via mobile web technology. Should his prediction prove right, then certainly the publishing industry could thrive. Perhaps publishers could develop their own apps in the future where readers can buy these bite-size stories (perhaps charging per chunk?) or could give the opportunity of buying and downloading ebooks like you would to a Kindle.

Certainly the opportunities which can be offered through mobile web technology are extraordinary and I feel that the publishing world could really benefit from the new technologies if they are applied effectively.