Saint John-based Advanced Publishing is on cutting edge of mobile web with new iPhone application, T

Saint John-based Advanced Publishing is on cutting edge of mobile web with new iPhone application, T

Publishing firm launches digital service
By John Pollack for the Telegraph Journal | Link to original article

About a decade ago having a device that could email and fit in your pocket was quite an amazing new product.

But as smartphones have become more widespread, appealing to the mobile information and entertainment content viewing market, it is no longer an innovation for many businesses – it's a competitiveness issue.

This is true for Saint John-based Advanced Publishing Corp. which today is launching an iPhone version of its digital publishing service.

“It's kind of a first step into an evolution of people using different devices to access content,” says Trish Connolly, chief executive of Advanced Publishing. “It's our sense that we needed to get some experience in dealing with different mobile devices. It has become a feature that's a competitive issue – not to have one in our space is probably going to be more of an issue.”

The company specializes in creating online versions of magazines that are copies of the print editions, with the same “page-turning” experience, but with added multimedia features, such as video, links, and sharing via email and popular social networking sites. Advanced Publishing provides the service on an outsourced basis to mostly American publications.

The firm also gives its clients in-depth data about how many readers their online magazines get and how long they spend on a page and where they click. Connolly says this is useful for publications in wooing advertisers, and when being audited for circulation numbers they claim.

Until now readers of magazines published online through the Port City firm's service could only view content formatted for a PC. But for no added charge to the magazines, its readers can type the same URL on an iPhone and automatically get the same content, and a similar experience only formatted to the 3.5-inch widescreen display.

This is a common trend among many popular social networking and news websites, as sites formatted for a regular desktop or laptop screen aren't as easy to use on a smartphone.

While Connolly doesn't claim to be a pioneer of the mobile web, she is on the cutting edge of her niche market as only a few of her many competitors are developing for smartphones.

“We're ahead of the curve on some of the aspects of the service we provide,” she says referring to her companies' accommodation of almost all web file formats, such as html or flash.

Another widespread trend among popular websites is to have an application available to download from Apple Inc.'s (NASDAQ:AAPL) iTunes App Store, which the company uses to market the iPhone in most of its advertisements.

Downloading an app puts an icon on the iPhone's home screen and doesn't require typing a URL into the web browser.

But Advanced Publishing has decided to avoid this for the time being.

“We want to make it as easy to use and widespread as possible,” Connolly said. “We think it's preferable from a usability stand point because you don't have to go to the app store and download anything. You just have to use what's familiar to you. But I'm not precluding us actually creating an app.”

Advanced Publishing is also working on a viewer for the BlackBerry, which Connolly hopes to have available in January.

“The BlackBerry has different obstacles that a developer needs to overcome,” she says. “The BlackBerry browser they use it's not as user-friendly or as easy to develop for.”

For this reason the company may decide to skip the browser format and go straight to an application for the BlackBerry.

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