Fluctuating device usage indicates importance of flexible content

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Fluctuating device usage indicates importance of flexible content

Aptara Editorial | Posted on 6th May 2014

Developing content that only works with one type of device is a common strategy, but one that may prove restrictive going forward. Content production in formats such as HTML5 may help distributors reach a wider audience than they would be able to with a selection of device-specific applications or a desktop PC program, with the added benefit of a single development process rather than several. One reason to use such a strategy is the persistent evolution regarding the types and number of devices in use. The most popular option today may be irrelevant tomorrow, meaning flexible content that works across lines is highly valuable.

The tablet in flux
According to a recent PC Magazine report, one of the technology darlings of the past few years, the tablet, may not be in the strong position experts expected. The source reported that the tablet's role as a laptop-killer was exaggerated in the early going. While proponents suspected that all a corporate traveler would need was an iPad, the device became an addition to the toolkit rather than a wholesale computer replacement.

If the tablet is not the only device that content providers have to worry about targeting, then developing solutions specifically for it may not be as advantageous as going wide. This is one of the potentially empowering facets of HTML5, in that a website that looks good on a PC's Web browser can also offer a compelling experience to a tablet user, with no separate development called for.

As for the future of tablets, PC Magazine foresaw the form factor fading away, but not simply dying out. The solution may be tied to past technology, in fact. The source indicated that convertible devices that have both laptop keyboards and touch-friendly screens could become the leading option, provided a taste-maker such as Apple decides to take a chance on the devices. The keyboard is the leading factor here, with PC Magazine decrying the "rubber keyboard" that comes with Microsoft Surface offerings.

HTML5 bridges the gap
Of course, even if tablets encounter inconsistent usage numbers, that doesn't mean developing mobile content is a mistake. According to a recent Nielsen report, more than half of Americans with mobile phone subscriptions use smartphones instead of feature phones. The research agency indicated that this is especially important because the over-half figure applies in every age category. Even members of the over-55 group, far from the millennials who grew up with mobile technology, are now more likely to use a smartphone than a less powerful device.

Businesses that want to ensure their content can reach users of all the mobile operating systems, as well as tablet users and business professionals who still insist on accessing content through their computers, can make sure their new efforts involve HTML5. While there is no guaranteed way to speak to the whole target audience at once, HTML5 conversion can open up a wide variety of channels without calling for a ground-up recreation of the content. In a market that still has surprises to offer, this well-prepared approach can pay dividends.

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B2B Publishing, Consumer & Trade Publishing, Magazine Publishing, Mobile Readiness