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Mobile Information

Dan Pollock, director, T

Mobile access gathers


Apps and mobile versions of websites are springing up everywhere in the scholarly publishing industry. Publishers and library management system suppliers reveal some of the latest trends. Interviews by Rebecca Pool and Siân Harris

14 Research Information AUG/SEP 2011

he trial of the iPhone app fi nished last year, and researchers have since been using their iPhones to subscribe to many of our journals as well as search PubMed. However,

[in April 2010], Apple also released the iPad, which challenged just about all the publishers out there. We tackled this by quickly adding an extra

stream to our development plans. We had largely built our iPhone operating system in- house, and behind the scenes we could re- use some of what we had already developed for the iPhone, in the iPad. And so, by the end of January this year, we released an iPad version of the application. Around the same time, we also introduced

a low-cost, mobile-access-only subscription option on our iPhone app. People generally spend fi ve to 10 dollars at the Apple apps store so we wanted to make sure our commercial models were consistent with that. We designed this version for personal reading only so that, while you still get the content, you can’t do things like copy and paste text. We’ve had tens of thousands of downloads. We still see the iPhone and iPad as being dominant but Android is in second place and growing very, very quickly. Librarian partners also tell us researchers are now keen to access Nature content using a site-wide licence, so we are currently developing a mobile- optimised version of our website. This will be the same as the desktop website but re- arranged as there is less room on the device display. HTML5 [which provides mobile device users with richer web applications] is getting richer by the day and browser supports are no longer patchy. So this leads to a discussion of whether to

use an app or HTML5 browser-based stuff. Is HTML5 support perfect yet? No. Could we get to a point where HTML will displace apps? Maybe. Mobile access is still only three to fi ve per cent of our overall traffi c though, and we’re still in an ‘experiment and wait and see’ situation. In two or three years’ time this will be clearer.

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