Where is mobile and tablet going?

By Wes Meltzer, Orlando Sentinel

The mobile and tablet landscape has changed a lot in the last year, since Denver. It changed since last week! At a panel discussion, Steve Yelvington of Morris, Chris Courtney of Tribune and Ray Marcano of Cox took a look at where we are, what’s next, and, as Courtney put it, “how the hell we got here.”

Here’s a brief recap of what the three panelists had to say:

Steve Yelvington, digital strategist at Morris Communications
  • It’s not just about the tablet. In fact, it’s mostly not about tablet; the tablet is primarily used by men in the 35-54 demographic. Everything is still about mobile.
  • Android is the dominant OS. Don’t think about just iOS.
  • It’s not all about the apps. You don’t have to serve every platform, but why reinvent the wheel for every platform? The mobile web is still there.
  • Don’t obsess over vendor solutions.
  • Understand that mobile devices are not just another distribution mechanism. Think hard about what you want there, and focus on that.
  • It’s not just about news. Broaden your horizons.
  • Be interoperable with the rest of the Web. You have to be prepared for people to use your content in unexpected ways.
  • Think creatively about how you can serve marketers and readers at the same time.
Chris Courtney, mobile product manager for Tribune Media Group
  • Only build what you would actually use. This will make your approach to app design (and content) more compelling.
  • Don’t create something just because it will sell. In fact, if that’s the reason you’re doing it, stop!
  • “Intrapreneurship” is king. Look inside for your resources; try to bring start-up culture to your business to keep your best people. We’re getting our lunch eaten by start-ups.
  • Media organizations are still too big. We need half the people we have. Then we won’t still have vice presidents for strategy and the like holding things up.
  • Why reinvent the mobile Web? If you already have that product, why try to create that a second time?
  • Have a Web-for-all strategy. Stop reinventing what you’ve already solved.
  • Make your Web site touch-optimized on the front end. If you start with something that’s touch-friendly, it’s also going to be desktop-friendly. It doesn’t go the other way.
  • Release aggressively and set aggressive deadlines.
  • Fail. Fail again. You’ll only learn by failing. I want you all to fail on something in the next month.
Ray Marcano, Sr. Manager for Strategic Initiatives, Cox Media Group’s digital and strategy team
  1. Think outside the software and hardware box with your development strategies.
  2. Put some effort into understanding your contracts. Make sure you know your rights to syndicated content (or you’ll get hurt): is “tablet” the same as “mobile”? Are you sure you and your content providers are on the same page?
  3. If your vendor promises you everything you’re asking for in 30 days, run for the hills. Find a new vendor.
  4. Decide your focus. Figure out what you want your app to be. What kind of content do you have?
  5. Make sure you have someone who understands your CMS inside and out. And you don’t just have one CMS; you probably have dozens. You need someone who understands what’s going on under the hood.