Thursday, February 19, 2009

Phones have a way to go before matching paper's touch and feel

I have previously commented on the (possible) connection between the look and feel of touch screen phones and their ability to provide a substitute for - or alternative to - the look and feel of paper, especially where magazines are concerned.

Now a survey by has confirmed that not just any old touch screen will do. The iPhone and LG's KC910 are the only two models that achieve high ratings. Charles Arthur summarises the findings well in today's Guardian Technology section.

What does this mean for the mobile magazine? I guess that until other phones achieve the same usability as the iPhone and the KC910 that take up will be limited, and that of those two the iPhone must be hands down winner not only because it has sold so well but because it has a direct link to iTunes and the AppStore, which between them provide an easy route to market for both producers (not just of magazines, of course) and consumers.

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If you look at an app like Stanza on iPhone you get a feel for what magazine or book-like content can be like on mobile devices. The key is simply to have the biggest the touch screen functionality not only adds a tactile element (almost like turning a page) but also makes possible the largest viewing area within the form factor.

I'm impressed with Stanza but still find it hard to turn to an electronic device for relaxation after a day working in front of the computer; therein lies the problem for me with the proposition of electronic books and mags. Also it seems the cost of commercial media does not especially reflect the saving in print cost either.

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