Rafat Ali: As the deluge of media and information has become overwhelming and we are in a state of persistent media stimuli, the tactile nature of touchscreens allow us, for the first time in the digital age, to “get a handle” on this flow, this stream, this river, this flood. It becomes a lot more personal, a lot more immersive, just by the sheer fact that we are touching it.
Also, despite the somewhat shiny-object nature of the apps revolution, what it has shown us is that people are yearning for simpler, faster, more utilitarian and more contained experiences. Touch is the underpinning that enables that thinking.
Further, what that means is that we move away from the click frenzied nature of the web, and the scroll. I think these are among the worst things to be invented from a human-centered design perspective. We will move from a vertical model of digital media consumption to a hybrid-horizontal model, which by its nature is immersive. You can already see it in iPad apps such as Flipboard, which I think are just the 0.1 versions of what is to come.
It is also a matter of time before these devices become a lot cheaper, and mainstream across all societies worldwide. Hence my belief.
AA: How can publishers take advantage of properties that exist on touchscreen devices that were not commercially viable only a few years ago?
RA: I think it requires a lot more than publishers can grasp at this point. It means re-architecting your company around this evolving mode of media consumption. It means bringing design thinking around every piece of content being created within a media company. It may also mean that the start of your media strategy going ahead could be based around portability and mobility, not just another device your content has to be ported to, the dominant media thinking currently.
It also leads you to thinking about packaging, bundling AND even unbundling in a lot of different ways than couldn’t have been imagined just two to three years ago. Consider the example of a children’s books publisher. Imagine the future of the company’s assets, as it gets reimagined for these portable touch platforms. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination, and implementation.
Then in terms of revenues/payments, the upsell becomes a seamless possibility like never before. Virtual goods is the most cliched but clearly viable example of this. Lots more to come there, both from start-ups and big established players.