Digital publishers face an easy choice when it comes to platforming traditional textual content. Epub is an open standard that can be supported by any OS, and is available on nearly any tablet, mobile device, and e-reader equipped with the proper software. Needless to say, any publisher trying to extend its content to the digital market opts for this standard.
However, with Epub 3 still in its first public draft, publishers are left asking, “What of enriched content?” Where does a digital publisher turn when faced with the choice of platforming content that only works through an application? The iOS? The iPad may dominate the tablet market, but with the release of Android Tablets and Apple’s failure to deliver with the release of its iPad 2, the tables may turn at any moment.
As the battle for tablet dominance escalates between Apple and Android, publishers of enriched content are pulling fist clumps of hair out of their heads trying to decide which OS to platform their content to, as covering every OS would be too costly.
Choosing to develop core web apps will save publishers a large expense in exchange for great accessibility, while still maintaining the practical style for the consumer’s pleasure. After all, the objective of publishing is to make the content as accessible as possible.
Larger companies won’t sweat the high costs of transmedia project development and may still consider platforming to every device and OS that’s out there. But with the average app developer costing as much as $100.00-$200.00/hr, the smaller developers are probably looking for a little break in production costs.
Luckily for the publishers, the majority of mobile device users will be able to find and access the content online through their devices’ web-browser. In response to a trend of customers using their devices primarily for web browsing (and Angry Birds), Apple, Android, and countless app developers work hard to optimize the web browsing experience.
The Android OS already boasts Flash support and is equipped with a browser that functions as effectively as a PC. So as long as the web content is optimized for a tablet sized screen (10.1-12 inches), users should be able to enjoy the content in its intended form without publishers having to develop separate applications for devices operating on Android.
There is no sense in trying to land content on the iPad, because developing applications for the iOS will only work on Apple devices and cost additional money to sell the content through Apple’s App Store. However, Apple was recently cut a break when popular web browser app Skyfire made its way to the iPad. This clever app circumvents the iOS’ lack of Flash support by converting all Flash video files into readable versions with the help of almighty HTML5. It isn’t pure Flash, but the promise of HTML5 may turn Apple’s kryptonite into a laughing matter in a few short months anyway.
By focusing on web-based apps, content can reach its audience from any OS with the proper installed web-browser and plugins. Publishers would only have to develop a single web application to make the content available to all PC, Android, and Apple mobile device/tablet users. This one-step approach covers a lot of the platforming playing field.