Tuesday, December 12, 2006

iLiad and De Tijd eNewsPaper (close)

Overlooking the summaries of the research and the PDF presentation of De Tijd eNewsPaper pilot, a general picture starts to become clear.

This was a live pilot of a new device, which has been destined for rendering newspapers and books. It has not been a small pilot as 200 people, selected out of a group of 500 interested people, have participated in the pilot. More than 60 issues were published for this pilot during 2,5 months, giving the publisher and the telco the assurance that it worked. What did we learn?

The research results show many a detail such as a SWOT analysis, activities or better a lack of activities by interactive users and usability points. In general, the results are almost obligatory. The pilot was performed for more than 60 days; it worked and despite some small remarks on the usability of the iLiad, the experiment was successful. However the iLiad will only be used in the remote future.

I personally think that two main questions have been left unanswered. One question is the multi-functionality of the device and the audience. The other question is about the audience.

The iLiad however is limited in its purpose. It is a text iPod, storing documents such as newspapers, books and manuals for reading. In surveys taken in the past with electronic books every time the single purpose of the e-book readers was see as a problem. E-book readers were expensive for the single function they performed: rendering the texts and illustrations.
In these surveys the e-books were compared with PDAs, the multi-functional devices, which have been extended with mobile facilities these days.
Granted the iLiad has wireless connectivity, which has not been used to the fullest yet. Also the annotation/writing facility has not been tested in De Tijd experiment. But this writing facility will not turn the iLiad into a PDA.
I have likened the iLiad to an iPod. So far the iPod has proven to be a single music device. And yet, contrary to a PDA, it has sold like crazy. So why should a text iPod not sell like crazy? In an earlier instalment I have indicated that a number of conditions are needed for success: a promoter, reasonable prices of the devices and of the content and ease of distribution. With the iLiad and similar devices (even the Sony e-book) they clearly lack a promoter and a reasonable price for the device so far.

In an earlier instalment I have indicated that the pilot group of users of De Tijd were early adopters: highly educated business men, who were versatile with computers. So this pilot group of users can be seen as the pioneers of this device; on the other hand they prove that the device is not ready yet for a general roll-out.
So will it work with an audience of a general newspaper? I guess that the versatility with computers of such an audience is lower than De Tijd pilot group. Besides it is clear that the need to know the news is less lower. It will be interesting to see what the results will be of the Dutch consortium, which will be a follow up to De Tijd experiment.

So far the iLiad has proven that it the screen is an absolute pleasure to the eye. But from De Tijd experiment it is also clear that the iLiad is something of the remote future. It is not a break-through for the publishing industry like the iPod was for the music industry. The big question is now how remote is remote: short term, middle long term or long term?.

Tags: iliad, irex, e-book, e-ink, e-reader, newspaper

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Blog Posting Number: 602

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