Monday, April 23, 2007

iLiad: forthcoming research on Dutch newspapers

It has been in the air ever since the iLiad was under construction by the Philips spin-off iRex Technologies: Dutch language newspapers on e-Readers. This week the Dutch Press Fund awarded a consortium of Dutch newspapers a grant of maximally of 362.950 euro for practical research into e-Readers. Three newspapers will partake in the research: the free newspaper Spits, the financial daily Het Financieele Dagblad and the national daily de Volkskrant. The research will take two years and the results will be offered to the newspaper sector.

The practical research will not be directed towards the technology, but will focus on how e-Readers can assist the change-over from the classic, static newspaper to the digital, dynamic newspaper content.

This research objective is broad. Yet one can ask whether another research has to be started up. Internationally there is an IFRA eNews research project going on. Closer to home, Wegener and Philips have done research into the usage of e-Readers by regional newspaper readers. The use of the e-Reader was tested over against other information devices. Especially the difference in usage between internet services and e-readers was tested. Very extensive research was performed with the Belgian newspaper De Tijd. This newspaper is a Flemish financial newspaper. I reported on the results of the research project extensively in my postings. But so far there is no decision has been made public that De Tijd will continue will the service.

The research in The Netherlands will be interesting as Het Financieele Dagblad will be the Dutch language partner in it. So it will be possible to compare the results between De Tijd and Het Financieele Dagblad as language and subject are the same.

New for the Dutch/Flemish language will be the research into the free daily and the paid national newspaper. De Spits is the counterpart by de Telegraaf of the Metro. It aims at the young commuters in urban areas. For de Telegraaf the newspaper the newspaper is an ad vehicle. The national newspaper de Volkskrant direct itself towards young audience with a good education and good job; a substantial part of the audience consists of singles.

The interesting part of the research will be the comparison between professional usage, usage for paid news and usage for free news. From my experience with the introduction of new devices such as CD-ROM players and electronic books, I expect that professional usage will be the leader of the three.

Interesting will also be the content question. Will the newspaper editorial staffs just transmit the newspaper as the pdf files on internet once a day or will they provide an iLiad edition once a day, in a day parting mood (morning, midday, late afternoon editions) or continuously changing news. From the internet experience it is clear that pdf is not a favourite type of edition and that continuously changing news is much appreciated. Given the wireless facility of the iLiad e-Reader a continuously changing news feed can be transmitted.

Personally I would also include the Readius in the project. The two e-Readers could be tested over against each other. The iLiad would be a single functional information device with an A5 screen, while the Readius would be a multi-functional communication and information device with a mobile telephone and a small screen, dedicated to information.

I look forwards to participating in tests of this research project. Of course I should get my iLiad to the repair service first.

Blog Posting Number: 732

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