Saturday, November 19, 2011

Libraries' Mobile Future - Tech Breakfast

Libraries’ Mobile Future
Cody Hanson
U of MN Libraries, web development & user services

Mobile technology poses more challenges than opportunities to public libraries. He didn’t pose solutions during this presentation, because he thought it was important to discuss the challenges.

The Shift to Mobile

We’re at the beginning of a huge shift, also one of the quickest and one of the most important. Libraries ignore it at their peril.

The largest PC manufacturer in the world is Hewlett Packard (HP).

In August, 2011 HP announced they were getting out of the PC game.  It was changing too fast and was too competitive given the mobile revolution.  They were also spinning off their tablet business, when they arguably had the 2nd most popular tablet, after the iPad. 

Leo Apotheker is not the CEO anymore.  However, the current CEO, Meg Whitman (former CEO of eBay) also says the market is really uncertain. 

If there’s any part of your business that relies on computing looking the same in 5 years as it does today, you need to rethink it.

Computers and internet access are wildly popular in public libraries.  However, that won’t continue to be true in the long run.

Everyday 100,000 are getting their 1st smart phone.

ComScore survey says 587,000 Americans per week are switching to smart phones from non-smart phones. 
Twitter, 30 Aug, Horace Dediu

It took more than 20 yrs to grow the worldwide base of PC users to 600 million, smart phones got there in 8. 
Twitter, 7/12/11, Horace Dediu

The mobile revolution is not only faster than the PC revolution, but different.

Forrester Research reports that over 60% of corporate IT supports consumer technology - personal hardware owned by employees - partially because consumer tech may very well be more powerful than anything the corporation can afford to provide.  Also, many people prefer to use their personal device and connect to the corporate network instead of also carrying a corporation-issued device.

Mobile computing is having an incredibly profound and disruptive effect on PC computing.

Digital Divide:

There’s a different divide in mobile vs. PC.  

With PCs, the divider is race and income. The mobile digital divider is age.  Although 55+ is the fastest growing market for smart phones, so that may change.

According to the Pew Internet & American Life project April 26 - May 22, 2011 Black and Hispanic Americans are more likely to own a cell phone and use it to access internet than White Americans.

Many folks who primarily use mobile devices in their online life have internet PCs at home.

The upshot is that more and more people have access to internet.  The number of people we are serving with this service are an increasingly shrinking portion of the population as a whole.

Information Services:

Factors people balance when fulfilling an information need:

Libraries were well positioned to provide information services because we fulfill these criteria.  This was when we lived in a world of “scarce information and abundant attention,” according to LorcanDempsey

Now that we live in an environment of abundant information and scarce attention, high transaction costs equals low/no availability - Lorcan Dempsey.  People aren’t willing to pay a price (money, time or convenience) for information if they don’t need/want it badly enough.

Mobile computing fulfills those 3 factors. The possible problem is only getting access to good-enough sources, instead of the best, and most of the time it’s not worth searching out the best source.

Stat from Google: during evening hours, search volume from smart devices now exceeds that from PCs.  #thinkhealth
Twitter, Timoreilly


Mobile devices are Trojan horse for eReaders.  You can have a large number of eReader apps loaded on a mobile device.

An Economist story from 9/10/11 says Ikea redesigned Billy Bookcase to be better showcase for tchochkes, ornaments - anything that is except books that are actually read. 

The Economist article also reported that in the first five months of 2011, sales of ebooks overtook sales of hardcover books. 

There’s a very limited license for ebooks – they are not bought and sold; they are leased.  Therefore, the first sale doctrine - once you buy something you have the right to sell it again- no longer applies. 

There’s currently only one vendor for popular reading ebooks – Overdrive.  Their catalog only contains three of the Kindle bestsellers, and less than ½ of the NYT bestsellers.

Clarifying terms – you can put an Overdrive book on Kindle, but you can’t borrow a Kindle book from the library.  They’re two different things, and even doing the former advertises for Amazon.  A sweet deal for them.

Only most motivated users will use ebooks from libraries because, when compared to buying ebooks, borrowing them is fiddly and difficult.

Amazon (easy, with cost) competing with piracy (free, with hassle) - so the ease competes with low, low (no) price.  EBooks will make libraries = free, with hassle.

Eli Neiburger at the LJ/SLJ eBook Summit:  Libraries are screwed. YouTube, 9/29/10

Cloud services are more viable with the shift to mobile than they used to be.

Mobile tech is rapidly and extremely disrupting all content models.  Libraries are in the content business. 

There’s no motivation for econtent providers to partner with libraries.  When the price comes down far enough that people are willing to pay without thinking about it, we’re screwed. 

Publishers would rather sell than lease. 

Publishers don’t want to see their content devalued by giving it away for cheap or free.  Agency pricing was a result of this perception.  They want people to know a book is worth such a value.

Amazon pays publishers for a sale every time they lend a book through their new lending program.  Publishers are still setting up to sue Amazon for devaluing their product.

Who do you think might be the next target?


Libraries can play a role in advocating and educating on privacy and internet safety.  We should at least be thinking about the technologies we use and how they affect our patrons and the kind of example we’re setting.

More people are accessing internet with mobile but it’s currently lousy and expensive.  However, FCC’s net neutrality rule doesn’t apply to mobile. - shows you your IP address, which travels with you and shows your location.  ELM uses it to locate you so you can access when you’re in Minnesota without using your library card.

QR codes are live - every time you read one you go through the service that encoded it.  So the service can track the use of QR codes.  This is a privacy issue.

Melissa @ Central

1 comment:

John Larson said...

An update on the IKEA Billy bookcase story: