Content and Delivery entwined?

Must content and delivery be inextricably entwined?

For centuries our ability to gather content and disseminated wirh tide is not just to the content but to the media and the physical media that was used for delivery. If you wanted to read a book you would buy both the content and the delivery media simultaneously. The words in the paper on which they were printed or written were forever enmeshed. Even in recent decades with books on CD or tape you were still purchasing both the delivery media and the content as an inseparable unit.

We have an opportunity to day with the development of digital content and robust data exchange standards to forever separate the content from the media, or at least that will we use to receive the content. We’re at a crossroads. We can choose to follow the path of standards allowing users to decide on the delivery mechanism they prefer, or we can continue to develop content for delivery in specific devices and tools.

We’re currently entering a world where we have a wide variety of choices for the personal technology we use to access media. For instance, we have both been nearly ubiquitous iPad and now more and more android tablets on the market. We’re also seeing the early stages of windows eight tablets being previewed. If we take a device centric approach content will be developed and delivered as operating system specific applications. This will enable content creators to leverage the unique creative aspects of each of the operating systems and the devices. But it will limit the flexibility of the user and potentially limit the consumer base. Imagine if there is compelling content available for an android, and different yet equally compelling content available on the iPad. If you would like to consume the content available on both devices you’ll have to make an investment in each of the devices. If however the content creator focused on developing inside of existing content delivery standards the user will be free to choose the marriage of device and content that works best for them.

In the early days of conversations about developig media rich textbook on tablets, the discussions centered around the iPad and how to make compelling applications for that device. Once the android operating system began to get traction however the discussion we found devices competing not only for consumer selection but for the ability to consume content. This opens up a whole new avenue for the consumer where they get to choose both the delivery tool and the content that they to consume.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s the content standards movement focused on Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML) as a platform and application agnostic means of sharing and transferring content. This then evolved into the heart of the world wide web with the transformation into HTML.  Now, some browser developers added unique features to their implementation of HTML but over time they all seem to have come to the realization that standardized interfaces and interactions are better for all. This has now evolved into HTML5 and the integration of multimedia and interactive content into the markup language.

So here is the call—content creators and publishers need to focus on platform and application agnostic means of delivering their content. If they have a creative and innovative multimedia presentation they wish to provide they would do well to follow the lead of Amazon and other eBook resellers and develop their content for delivery using HTML5.  There are significant benefits to the publisher and content creator to this approach. First, the creators and publishers will not need to develop separate approaches for each and every device available to consumers. They will be able to create once and distribute to many. In addition, by following this open approach to content delivery they will please their consumer by allowing their consumer to choose the tool that works best for them while opening the door to significant increases in sales by offering their content to the widest selection of consumers available.

One final note: there are other benefits as well including the encouragement of design innovation in the devices separate from the need to maintain compatibility with specific applications running an existing hardware and software designs.

Win. Win. Win.

To hear more on this topic, listen to our discussion on the upcoming Episode 97 of Real Tech for Real People.


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