Monday, May 24, 2010

Mobile Applications Panel at BookExpo

I am leading a panel discussion on Mobile Applications: A Publisher Road map for Creation and Use at BookExpo on Tuesday at 1:30.

Following are my introductory comments:

By way of introduction, I was reminded recently how profound are the changes in how we engage with content.

Traveling on the Seoul subway – underground - last week, I happened to notice that the attention of the person seated next to me was focused on his phone. As I concentrated on the screen of this smart phone, I saw he was watching the television news live. It turns out deep engagement with digital content isn’t unusual in Korea where the country has the second highest penetration of 3G networks in the world behind Japan. As think about the guy watching TV underground it seems incredible to me that it wasn’t that long ago that a Blackberry was just a beeper (or a fruit).

Mary Meeker, a well known media analyst from Morgan Stanley, recently presented an annual report on the state of the Internet, and in that presentation she chose to focus on the rapid and radical expansion of mobile computing. The ability to engage with content anywhere, anytime is changing behavior and reducing the importance of the desktop environment as the vehicle for presenting and delivering content. Mobile is also feeding a social environment where content is central to the user experience and the social ‘platforms’ - notably Facebook – are providing transaction tools that support discovery, recommendations, purchases and a lot more.

All of us have to be aware that there is something going on in mobile: We remember the hysteria over iPhone and then the iTouch, which all pales in comparison to the iPad and the apparently 200,000 units being sold per week of that device. Mobile is huge but still in its’ infancy. In her presentation, Meeker points out that while mobile has grown faster and quicker than anything before it, it will be another four years before mobile exceeds desktop usage. Inherent in that prediction is the assumption that mobile application development as well as new hardware will continue to engage consumers so that they continue to adjust their behavior. “Adjust” versus “change” since desktop usage continues to grow incrementally.

On the face of it, this expansion of mobile computing looks like good news for the book industry. Firstly, book selling is one of the most mature and deeply penetrated online retail segments and it is natural that this retail model has transported to the mobile environment.

Secondly, as Meeker points out in her presentation consumers using mobile applications have shown a unique interest in actually paying for content.

There are several reasons why she believes this:

• Point of purchase and secure payments make it easy
• Value proposition more closely equals pricing
• Platform is highly ‘curated’/managed
• Branded selling: users are comfortable with store fronts
• Personal identity and ‘life experience’ is tied to device

All of the above reasons bode well for the future success of the content industry.
A number of publishing companies as well as some technology companies are investing aggressively in mobile delivery of their content and, in the development of specific environments where both new and old customers can engage with each other and with the content owner. On the panel you will hear from some of these companies.

On the panel with me, I have Josh Koppel, co-founder, ScrollMotion, Dominique Raccah, CEO, Sourcebooks, Linda Gagnon, SVP - Digital Media Services, Baker & Taylor and, Peter Costanzo, Dir., Online Marketing, Perseus Books Group. From each of these panelists you will hear about their varying experiences in leveraging mobile computing.

The Meeker presentation is here:

Morgan Stanley Internet Trends Analysis

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