Mobile Trends to Watch for Publishing in 2012
Interview with SiNae Pitts, CEO, Amphetamobile
For podcast release
Monday, February 6, 2012
KENNEALLY: The infiltration of mobile technology into every nook and cranny of our professional and personal lives is irrefutable and irreversible. Very likely, you are hearing this podcast as played through a mobile device, even while you stay current with e-mail and check the latest stocks or sports scores. And in this election year 2012, voters are expected to carry their smartphones into the voting place with them while they later tweet about the results.
Hello, and welcome to Beyond the Book, CCC’s podcast series on publishing trends and media technology and innovations. My name is Christopher Kenneally.
Joining me today to look ahead over the next 12 months at ways mobile technology will transform the way you and I conduct business, carry on relationships, and keep touch about what’s going on the world is SiNae Pitts, CEO at Amphetamobile, specializing in mobile app development for education and scholarly publishing. Welcome back to Beyond the Book, SiNae.
PITTS: Hi, Chris. Thanks again for having me on. It’s always a pleasure speaking with you.
KENNEALLY: Well, and likewise. And this time, we’re going to ask you to look into your crystal ball, and of course, we all know that in media, at least, in 2012, everyone wants to be in the mobile game. But I’d love to hear from you, because you work with some of the leading publishers around, what you think it’s going to take to succeed this year and in the future.
PITTS: All right. Well, I’ve come up with a short list of five mobile trends specifically in publishing to watch out for in 2012, based on reports from industry analysts and what we’re hearing from our own customers and observing from end user usage and feedback.
So, number one, as you alluded to, is the continued growth of apps. And no one’s been more bullish about that than Forrester Research. They believe the world will move away from the Web towards an app Internet, which is where powerful local devices, such as the iPad, are running programs that transparently link to resources in the cloud. The Forrester Chairman and CEO recently gave a talk about the Web in December, saying that the app Internet market is worth $2.2 billion, and it’s growing at an astonishing 85%, and that decision-makers at 41% of companies are now moving away from Web-based software towards an app Internet, because the –
KENNEALLY: I’m sorry, SiNae. But I was going to say, for people who haven’t seen that blog post, that I was just looking at it earlier myself, can you sketch out just a little more deeply what an app Internet really might look like?
PITTS: Yes, so, an app Internet offers a faster, simpler and a better user Internet experience. So the Web isn’t going away – the Web is just a software architecture on top of the Internet. And the Web – the app Internet is the way devices – and not just mobile devices, but also desktop devices and servers, are going to be communicating through Internet.
KENNEALLY: And can I ask you – I mean, in a fashion, it sounds like an Internet world without a browser, for the most part.
PITTS: Yes. I mean, I don’t think the browser will go away completely. It’s always going to be a fallback, or if you run out of local resources, and maybe it’s going to be a way to find apps. But increasingly, our time is going to be spent on apps.
So, that means technologies like HTML 5 and cross-platform bridging technologies are really not quite there yet. They’re still not well documented and supported. And they’re always going to be behind native applications. They’re just not going to look, perform and behave the way native apps that come on board do.
And our strategy is always to build for the best possible user experience. And where cross-platform access is needed, that we build native IOS apps, native Android apps, and mobile websites to catch all the other smartphones. And if they all feed from a central database server, that’s what helps future-proof your technology.
So, I think for publishers, a lot of attention has been paid to, you know, what should I build my front end, client facing apps in, rather than thinking about the stuff that they can control, which is, the back end infrastructure, converting legacy systems, doing good tagging on their content, and building APIs, which will allow for good apps in whatever technology that they’re written in.
KENNEALLY: Well, that’s what you and George Forrester can agree upon for 2012. What else do you see in store?
PITTS: A more integrated user experience from the Web to the device and back. So for example, Kindle’s Whispersync, which allows readers to pick up from where they left off, no matter if they are reading online, on a Kindle device, or in a Kindle app on an iPad, will be the kind of seamless experience users will come to expect for other things that they’re reading. So that’s going to mean the creation of individual accounts.
And this is a big benefit to publishers, because instead of having anonymous users, they can actually start profiling, building up user histories, making suggestions to their users, and targeting them for products that they may be interested in.
So, with individual user counts, publishers can get a wealth of user metrics, and this type of data analysis will be part of another larger trend, and users can have a more seamless experience.
KENNEALLY: And SiNae, if I can, I think that addresses one of the problems that I hear about at a number of these book publishing conferences, which is discoverability. You know, with the rapid disappearance of real bookshelf space, the brick and mortar space, and the growing numbers of virtual bookstores and virtual bookshelf space, you know, the issue is how to get the product to the consumer. But if you know more about the consumer, you know who they are, then you can direct your volley of information to them, and probably have a better chance at a sale.
PITTS: Yes, and more targeted messaging is going to be less obtrusive than blanket messaging, and also allows them to integrate their social network as social referrals become increasingly an important driver of retail sales.
KENNEALLY: Right. OK, well, what else is on that list of yours?
PITTS: Number three, so that integrated user experience is related to an ongoing adoption of cloud storage and cloud computing. So, cloud storage services such as Dropbox and Box.net allow users to take their stuff and their preferences with them, and access it from anywhere. As usual, the first adaption has been by consumers, but I think enterprises are soon going to follow.
And we’ve created our own cloud service, called the AMMO Rack cloud storage account, which enables users to store PDFs that they find online on the Web, and later retrieve them to our document management app for iPhone and iPad called the AMMO Rack, which is a virtual document rack for organizing, renaming, reading, and soon-coming, annotating those documents.
KENNEALLY: Well, I’ve seen that on your website, which is –
KENNEALLY: – Amphetamobile.com, and not to plug it too heavily, but it’s really an elegant solution. It – because, I mean, organizing seems to me to be the dilemma of the cloud based issue, which is, I’ve got all this stuff, but how do I organize it, how do I keep track of it, how do I, when I get back to it, get to what I want when I want?
PITTS: Yes, so we’ve currently integrated this service with Elsevier SciVerse, which is the world’s largest repository of scientific literature, and we have interest from other publishers as well. And they’re looking for some very specific use cases, such as product guides, vendor presentations, and even pharmaceutical reprints.
And that brings us to, as you were saying, this personalization, to my trend number four, which is, personal curation of content. So rather than just being stuck with a fixed container of content, publishers should let users make it his or her own, and make meaningful use of it, and enable this with advanced tools.
So, meaningful use, going beyond content and deeper into workflows, is a session I proposed and presented at the December Mediabistro’s Publishing App Expo, which I believe you attended as well?
KENNEALLY: Indeed. I was in the audience. And what struck me is, a lot of the app world is taken up with discussion around the consumer. By that, I mean the individual at home on the sofa. But your session attracted a lot of people thinking about the enterprise, and you’ve made that point today earlier, but in other presentations you’ve given. And this is a critical point, I think, for our audience. The app is no longer something that’s kind of fun to play with while you’re on the subway. It’s a real meaningful piece of the way that people do work.
PITTS: Yes, especially for information and knowledge workers. It’s vital to their workflow.
So you want – some publishers want to go beyond just presenting the content. In order to make their apps really sticky and useful, they have to allow users to take that content deeper into their workflow. So we presented examples there from scholarly and medical publishing of user-centric apps, so organization, annotation and collaboration, right from within the app.
KENNEALLY: Well, we are talking right now on Beyond the Book with SiNae Pitts, who is CEO at Amphetamobile. And tell us what rounds out your list there of top trends for 2012 in the app world.
PITTS: And number five is the digital textbook. This is how today’s generation will learn. The opportunities in the education market are huge and transformative. And not only just, again, the content is being challenged, but the way the content is consumed is being reimagined, with e-textbooks and new textbook type apps. There are now interactive charts and graphs, embedded media,embedded discussions, sharing and live discussions, and ways for students to interact with each other, with their instructors, and even with the authors.
KENNEALLY: Right – well, you know, there’s been a lot of discussion on the tradebook side, SiNae, about the enhanced book, so-called, including a variety of media in addition to text. But this is really where it’s happening right now, is in the textbook areas.
PITTS: Yes. I think the days of a backpack full of textbooks is going to be the way of the past, and instead, kids are going to expect the content to be live, updatable, and interactive, and social.
KENNEALLY: Well, we really appreciate the way you’ve looked at the subject for us in depth, SiNae, and given us the highlights of your view of what’s going to be happening in the app world for 2012.
We’ve been chatting with SiNae Pitts, CEO of Amphetamobile here on Beyond the Book. SiNae, thanks for joining us again.
PITTS: Thank you very much, Chris. I appreciate the opportunity.
KENNEALLY: And we look forward to keeping in touch with you, as of course, we do expect to hear more from Amphetamobile, but also, more on the world of apps in the coming months and years. And again, thank you, SiNae Pitts.
Beyond the Book is produced by Copyright Clearance Center, a global rights broker for the world’s most sought after materials, including millions of books, and ebooks, journals, newspapers, magazines, and blogs. You can follow Beyond the Book on Twitter, like Beyond the Book on Facebook, and subscribe to the free podcast series on iTunes, or at our website, Copyright.com/beyondthebook.
Our engineer today is Jeremy Brieske of BurstMarketing. My name is Christopher Kenneally. For all of us at Copyright Clearance Center, thanks for listening to Beyond the Book.