When is the right time to go mobile?

I spent today at the HighWire Publishers Forum, a fascinating meeting of like minded publishers all grappling with how to use technology to best reach readers and members and serve the library community.  Then along comes “mobile” and the temptation is to ask: when can I go mobile?  But several sessions at today’s meeting underlined the need to understand what users want first.  As someone said over our lunch table “there are lots of big publishers out there that will rush out to try things and we can learn from them”. 

In the meantime, I came away with two clear take home messages.  First, if you want to offer mobile access to exactly what you have on a current web site, you might as well just make it browser compatible on smart phones, it would probably be a lot cheaper.  Then second, we need to find out, probably for each individual readership, what do users want to be able to do? Is it look up and keep up?  Do they have a need/desire to rank content that they are reading?  Can we offer quizzes that will deliver a real learning experience?  Do readers want to be able to browse images?

And until we have answered some of these questions we might as well keep our iPhones in the pockets that clothing manufacturers are now creating for them.  But I would love to hear your thoughts from your different communities?  It seems that the technology is there waiting for the application to come along.

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