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Mobile games/app developer? Fear not, the revolution in publishing will create a new bonanza

A nice little funding round of $46m of the educational tablet maker Kno was announced last week.  Why is this relevant? Well for one, the demo on the site is fantastic (my wife, who publishes textbooks for high school was hypnotized by it), and it shows the true power of the tablet.  I have been an iPad owner only for a couple of weeks, and must admit I was very sceptical about whether this was just simply just an easier gadget to surf the web with.  That was after I had had a chance to play with Flipboardand read Sports Illustrated magazine. The apps represent examples of how you can redefine a horrible web experience (Twitter) into an amazing ever evolving magazine on one hand, and how you add multimedia, interactivity and seemless blend with web content on the other hand.

Goodbye Textbooks?  Hello Kno!

Apple, although not the first to release touch screen mobile phones, redefined how you interacted with the device, and with the iPad, using your hands to control what you see, and using apps to complement web experiences lays the ground for developers and publishers to create truly genious content experiences. And with Kno (or the promise of the format that is), it is readily apparent that the world of educational publishing is about to be rocked harder and faster than photography did – and many in publishing will study hard what Kodak did to turn around its business (of course, the follow up from Kodak since the article was written has not been great, with the shareprice going from 26 to 3, but the lessons in the article are valid).

What is quite clear, although you cannot see it in the Kno demo, is that there will be a lot of social and collaboration tools built right into the course material, and the experiences from social media will be brought into the learning evnironment as an integrated part already from the publisher side, working along side with learning institutions own efforts in this area.

So how does this apply to app developers? Well, consider another massively emerging trend, which is that of social gaming.  Recent studies show social gaming is exploding in popularity and is providing a real revenue streamfor social networks (also evidenced by Google’s latest acquisition spree).

Add the fact that gaming is increasingly being seen as a major educational tool. It has been around for ages of course (I not so fondly remember selling Vodites at business school. Long story. You don’t really want to know), and organizations such as the US Military rely heavily on it both for recruiting and learning.

It is not too much of a stretch to imagine a convergence of the trends, and you will see that gaming, especially in a social sense, will eventually be embedded in educational course material – and the need to present the experience across devices is what will enable a new era for the mobile games developer.  The combination of the tablet and the mobile is what will enable a true “always on” educational experience, and learning is no longer limited to a student sitting by their desk with their books at hand – as the access to the course material will soon always be with you. 

And those that do well are those that handle the user experience well. While you may have gotten away with with dodgy J2ME games 5 years ago, the iPhone raised the bar forever on what users expect, and the tablet experience raises the bar even further.  So next time an MBA student raises the price on his company’s Vodites, expect a real time response from another student who just got a push notification on his phone. Because that is how the real world will work and in some respect is already working.

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  1. David Kainer says

    Hey JT,

    very true. I attended Book Expo America this year in New York. There is huge buzz around the digital publishing revolution and a great lack of understanding when it comes to the nature of interactive applications: how to build them, UI concerns, connectivity with external networks etc. Definitely a lot of opportunity.