bigger ideas for the small screen
The biggest complaint and "perceived" barrier to adoption of news and information consumption on mobile devices in America is a constant nagging over the size of the screen and keyboard on mobile devices. The logic is based on the assumption that the same mode of consuming information on the desktop web, will carry over to the mobile web. Day after day, I receive alerts in my inbox announcing new ventures or new mobile product launches that attempt to extend web-based products and services to smartphones.
At no point has any of the mobile publishing platforms or application developers stopped to come up with an original idea that leverages the inherent nature of a smartphone. What is it? It’s first and foremost, a phone. And what is the primary method used by human beings to store and retrieve information on these devices? By speaking and listening. Now how about a desktop PC? What is the primary means of storing and retrieving information on your desktop? By typing and reading. Let's see, speaking and listening vs. typing and reading. These are two unique and different patterns of interaction.
This transference of the" typing and reading" paradigm of the PC to the "speaking and listening" paradigm of a mobile device is the true barrier to adoption. In order to realize the true value of mobile, we cannot see it as a destination. It is more like a router or remote. It is a tool for shifting and moving information. The desire to access content on a mobile device by typing and reading is a false assumption and has gained steam due to a band of "processionary caterpillar" developers that keep churning out text-based interfaces that force the desktop model of information storage and retrieval onto mobile devices. The very nature of the term "mobile" implies that you are not in a fixed location. You are not sitting and reading and typing into a screen. You are out and about, you are multi-tasking, you are partially distracted and doing other things.
One of the most innovative mobile products that have come to market in recent years is Lexy. Additional brands have competing and rival products. These include Stitcher Radio and Google Listen. What the last two failed to realize is that their services are not "all the way" mobile. Lexy is all the way mobile. Voice and SMS text messages are a primary means of navigating and interactive with the service. Voice and SMS are also the primary ways that people use these devices.
I am not fully against text-based content on mobile devices. Over the years, I've developed innovative ideas for navigating long-form text on a mobile device. Instead, I believe that the act of reading text on a small screen falls at the bottom rung when it comes to prioritizing the patterns of consumption. In every interface that I've conceived, packaging content to go has been the top priority of the interface.
This prioritization of the user’s ability to package up content "to-go" is my desire to make information convenient and accessible to people encountering what I like to call "situational disability." If you find yourself in a "situation" where your ability to listen or read is handicapped, then there are alternative means of getting to the same information on any number of alternative devices or screens. This is accomplished by allowing you to easily move information to another device in a format that is more conducive to your situation at that time. You can access the same information and pick up where you left off by reading, printing, calling, or listening. Whichever feels most accessible to you at the moment of want or need.