Sunday, January 2, 2011

iPad rocks - we are living the mobile convergence

First of all, I wish you very prosperous New Year 2011! During the holidays I had more time to explore the iPad, and so did my kids.
"It's the overall user experience that I value the most in iPad." 
As I'm writing this post, my oldest daughter, five year old Mona is watching Winx videos in YouTube with the iPad. It's amazing to see how they somehow learn to use the device, just in seconds.

There is definitely a market for tablet devices. I think Apple has proven that already with their iPad sales record. As a business user, sometimes I need my laptop, but sometimes I'm quite comfortable traveling and handling meetings with an iPad or even a smart phone. This is possible because we have most of our applications online (Google Apps,, Jira, Netvisor), so basically I just need a browser to access almost all necessary tools.

"The worst thing you can do is to put the same content, in same format to this new channel." 
Many media companies are probably testing and planning iPad applications as we speak. If you think that this is a new sales channel for a newspaper or magazine, you are getting it wrong! iPad is more interactive than just a passive broadcasting channel (compare computer + Internet vs. TV or radio). Here are my thoughts what to think before rushing your "application" into the App Store.

You can ask easily couple of modest questions from yourself regarding to cross-media or cross-channel concept: what kind of content we have and what kind of content we could have? How do we publish this content? What content we publish in each channel? Are consumers ready to pay for extra content? What is our subscription and ad revenue model? Above, you can see that CNN has an interactive iPad application with videos and reader comments.
"Media companies in Finland struggle with cross-linking and creating rich content to different channels." 
I guess media companies have challenges with their strategy and editorial staff rather than technical issues. I'm not saying that technical issues don't matter at all. I'm saying that for the long run, you should first think how to create and collect different kind of content including text, pictures and videos.
"Is the old staff ready to learn new tricks and produce wider variety of content or should we kick them out?
And hire younger people with up-to-date skills? When it comes to technical things, of course, you should be able to answer these questions: where do we store the content in the first place? How do we publish it to different channels (web, mobile web, print, iPhone / iPad or other native mobile applications)?

Which content we publish to each channels? How do we update the content for each channel? What kind of functionality we have in each channel? What is the best and most cost efficient workflow we can have? How much we are doing manual moving of content (copy-paste) between the systems?
"Media companies lack the final understanding of social media in Finland." 
It seems that tabloid kind of titles and quantity rule over quality. I have lost an interest towards mainstream media because of this. I'm finding much better content through blogs etc. There may be just a few editors who really engage with their audience via different social networks. We have seen social media guidelines from media companies, but I think they mostly suck. Instead of general guidelines, the old school gang needs hands on training. Below you can see CBC sports editor Scott Oake and how to connect TV and Twitter.

iPad is a great gadget but it can be even better with good applications. And I mean real applications not a look-a-like newspapers and magazines. You should think the iPad application as a website. One big question is: should we build a mobile site or native applications? Do you know how many people is using your website with mobile device? With Google Analytics, you can easily check it out through Visitors > Mobile > Mobile devices report.

If you want better statistics from your mobile website you need to add server side tracking code of Google Analytics. If you want any usage stats from your iPhone or iPad application then you need to read this Google Analytics instruction. In addition to web analytics data, try to get qualitative data from users as well. Ask the early adopters how they feel about service and what they would like to improve.

I hope that Meego will fight with iOS and Android stuff in the future, but in the meanwhile I look forward to seeing new cool iPad Apps...also from Finland.