Wednesday, April 18, 2007

.mobi - The Wave of the Future

Trends in Mobile Tools and Applications for Libraries
Megan Fox, Simmons College,

"Email is for old people" - Megan Fox's message is that mobile electronic devices like cell phones, PDAs, and even Playstations, are rapidly replacing computers as a preferred reference and research tool - library customers want information on the spot, where they are, not in the library building. And they probably want to request and receive the information by text message. Instant gratification is the word of the day.

Size of Mobile Market

75% of adults and 90% of college students have cell phones; 1 in 8 households no longer have landlines. 95% of mobile phones support text messaging, and in 2007 an estimated 350 billion text messages are sent permonth, a 95% increase in one year. And it's not just teens - 20% of cell phone users over 65 also text message.

Latest Devices include everything from the Apple iphone to the Playstation and UMPC, or "ultramobile personal computer" - most are capable of receiving broadband, texting, calendaring, etc. Most can record and play video, and have outstanding audio quality. In Asia, 90% of music downloads are to smartphones.

The Mobile Web/The TranscodedWeb

Libraries are beginning to develop content that can be delivered to mobile devices - the new internet domain ".mobi" is for sites compatible with mobile devices, including the sites below: - see "video" for downloadable ILL instructions

Vendors are also developing research content for mobile devices:

Bloggers and rss addicts are also in on it:

As are search services

What does it mean for libraries?

We need to consider making our OPAC and databases accessible to mobile devices, introducing text-message and IM reference, text and IM notices of holds, overdue books, events, etc. Possibly even producing mobile guides to the collection, directions to the library, mobile readers advisory, etc.

We also need to be careful how we ban cell phone use - banning audible conversations, but welcoming other research uses of PDAs and cell phones.

Looking to the future:

  • publishers are marketing books by sending excerpts by free subscription to phones and IM
  • mobicontent - 100s of libraries are circulating electronic books for mobile devices
  • Teleflip - send an email message to any telephone number and have it translated to text
  • Mobile devices in classrooms for realtime interactions and feedback between students and instructors - ie live polling
  • Mobile devices for library instruction?
  • itunes U - audio recordings of courses
  • advertising - nike, espn, hilton, pepsi, are working on placing text ads for cell phones
  • visa and mastercard are developing on-phone credit cards (loose your credit card - use your phone instead) could library cards also be embedded in phones?
  • search formats adapted to the small screen through intuitive "drill down" interfaces
  • mobile visual interactions - begin a query from an image - ie take a picture of a book and get info about circ status, reviews, ext.
  • GPS point and click devices to provide information about buildings, etc. your phone is pointed at
  • point and click metadata recognition and bar code scanning
  • tools for library staff, including wireless workstations, wireless bar code readers, real time shelf lists

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