Digital publishing grew tremendously in 2011. With the unveiling of new technologies such as the iPad 2, the iPhone 4S and Amazon’s Kindle Fire, we’ve dramatically changed the way companies will disseminate information for years to come.
But we’ve only begun to scratch the surface of what’s possible in this space. While many industries have dipped a tentative toe in the water, most have yet to take full advantage of all the capabilities of mobile technology, and make the move from paper to digital, from passive to interactive.
We predict that 2012 will see a wave of new digital publishing apps across a wide range of industries. Here are five new types of “digi-pubs” to watch for in 2012.
1. Movie Tie-Ins
There are already apps and games that build on the characters and storyline of films; however, a huge amount of film content has yet to be tapped by a mobile framework. But this is just around the corner.
For example, books based on children’s films essentially contain stills of the movie. With a relatively small effort, studios may start to turn children’s films into interactive picture books enhanced with games and clips from the films.
And considering the amount of work that goes into creating the bonus materials for a DVD, can the “making of” digi-pub for every major film be far behind? Unlike a book or a DVD, this content can also be made interactive and social. For example, an app could enable you to see all the actors’ tweets or to follow them on Facebook.
2. Music Appumentaries
Several musicians and labels have really started to embrace mobile technology to tell a deeper story and share directly with fans, and we’ve seen the early emergence of what some are calling the “appumentary.”
For example, the Jimi Hendrix – The Complete Experience app showcases pivotal moments in Jimi’s life and career, streams his music and offers an interactive approach to storytelling. The This Day in Pink Floyd app contains thousands of music facts, a guide to every one of the 167 studio tracks the band officially released, as well as Pink Floyd images, quiz questions, video footage and more. The Sting 25 app offers access to Sting’s seminal performances, rare photos and personal stories over the past 25 years of his music career.
I anticipate that as more artists and labels embrace this new medium, we’ll see an increase in digital music downloads and an explosion in new types of artist content, maybe even a new fan club paradigm with advanced and/or exclusive access to media or artist-driven content.
3. Medical Exam Apps
How many times have you been to the doctor and had them bring a laptop into the exam room? Probably not very many. While some medical practices have begun introducing some of these basic tools into their patient interactions, there’s still a shocking lack of mobile technology usage in the medical industry.
In 2012, the medical industry will have the opportunity to create a new paradigm for doctor/patient interaction using tablet technology. With the presentation of digital publications and apps that can distill complex medical theories and procedures into consumable bites, our understanding of conditions and treatment options will expand.
Imagine your doctor sitting with you to go over some test results. With a digital records application, she could display your results on an interactive comparative chart that displays the averages of people in your area by age, race, gender, occupation or lifestyle. It could contain embedded videos of procedure descriptions. Your doctor could share access with you, enabling you to request other opinions from physicians across the world. You could tie in social experiences on community boards with people that have undergone similar procedures. All of this could be presented in an interactive and personal publication that embodies your entire medical history.
4. The Digital Textbook
In some ways, the foundational paradigms of education are in transition. There are opportunities in the education market that are huge and potentially transformative.
Should students be carrying four or five textbooks to school each day? Could students purchase only certain chapters of books? Could books include text that is updated by authors in real-time? Could the concept of a “textbook” be a compilation of Wikipedia entries, content queried from Wolfram|Alpha, a professor’s thoughts and musings and social network contributions?
Not only is the content of today’s textbooks ready to be challenged; the way this content is consumed is already in a state of transition. The introduction of e-text and Amazon’s early versions of the Kindle changed how we read. No longer do we need to consume “printed” text in one form. Kindle devices and Kindle applications allow today’s readers to enjoy published works in their choice of context – Kindle device, desktop, mobile app – and seamlessly switch between them. With Amazon’s latest Kindle Fire tablet, consumers are now empowered with the Kindle experience on top of a mature Android platform. This platform of power and functionality will allow for new types of content presentation: interactive charts and graphs, embedded media, embedded discussions, sharing and borrowing, live discussions, etc.
5. Interactive Retail Catalogs
Using mobile technology in retail is practically a no-brainer, since investing in tech to reach consumers can pay off quickly. Brands like IKEA and Lands’ End have already begun to embrace the functionality of interacting with consumers on their mobile devices. In fact, many big-box and online retailers have begun to offer catalog apps that allow you to browse content on your iPad. However, most have simply taken their existing materials and published them in a similar form to their print counterparts.
In 2012, there is a huge opportunity for retailers to bring their catalog experiences to life on the iPad. For example, shoppers should be able to build avatars and virtually try on clothes, making mobile shopping an interactive, enjoyable and functional experience. Homeowners should be able to take pictures of their living rooms and upload them to the catalog app, then “decorate” rooms with the items from the catalog. And forget paint swatches – soon you will be able to take a picture of a room, choose and try different paint colors on the walls, click to buy, and have it ready to pick up at a nearby store in 15 minutes.
What are some digital publishing applications you’d like to see this year?
(This blog post was originally published as an article in Mashable on January 14, 2012)