GUEST BLOG POST: Developers from Poland create an easy Do-It-Yourself tool for publishers to prepare tablet apps on their own.
Rafal Oracz from Spoti.pl explains their HTML5 tool for publishers
By Marek Miller, guest blogger: Marek Miller is the regional consultant of Innovation Media Consulting for Poland and Eastern Europe. You can read a number of his coverages of different INMA and WAN events on Forum4Editors.com. He also blogs in Polish on www.em-jak-media.blogspot.com.
While the tablet market is still quite an unknown territory to many publishers, all they agree upon is the need of experimenting. And experimenting in this area is not easy. There are a number of questions still to be answered before newsmedia companies will actually be able to estimate real growth possibilities.
Those questions are, for example:
– how many tablets are really used in my country? (only estimates are possible)
– will Apple change its regulations again?
– should we focus on iPad only, and how will the market of other tablets develop?
– will people really enjoy one’s content on tablets?
– what kind of business model should be implemented and why the hell do we need to pay the share?
Waiting for these questions to be answered is suicidal. When you look only 12 months back, you will notice there is not a month to be wasted if you want to innovate and protect your place in the tablet market without making the same mistakes as the publishing industry did some years ago with the rise of the internet. And because tablets are here to stay, you need to experiment on as many levels as your budget allows.
Until recently there were basically two possibilities for publishers in the Polish market that wanted to make products for tablets. The first, as probably many publishers around the globe do, was to outsource this service, hire a professional consultant who would guide the editorial offices through the process of filling a prepared application with the content. This is the most expensive possibility when publishers develop a native app specifically designed for their own needs and with no similar apps in the market.
The second option is white label applications. There are companies around Poland offering the same kind of application for different publishers. They can be customized to (some) needs, but the core difference between those are usually colours, graphics, and maybe the order of the sections. Those applications look similar to one another, yet still are a bit expensive (somewhat mid-market price).
For about one month so far, a new tool has been available on the Polish market. The tool called Spoti Kreator uses HTML-5 technology, and makes applications available on diverse platforms: not only on iPad, but on all existing Android platforms as well.
Spoti is a simple do-it-yourself tool, where publishers can insert their content: text, images, videos and audio. They have about 30 different layouts of the application pages at their disposal. The entire code of the publication is open for the user, so when he is a developer with a basic HTML knowledge, he will be able to build his own layouts as well. Someexamples of how a page within the application can look like are listed on the picture below.
The process of creating the application is very easy and intuitive, and is done online. First you have to pick a template for your publication. Then you choose how your table of content should look like. Next comes the articles, which of course are linked with the table of content. Each article can be shown in one of 30 layouts. They can be either articles or galleries or simple pictures or videos or infographics. After choosing “publish” you will be able to enjoy your tablet application.
Spoti Kreator, just like all other tools, has its pros and cons. The great advantage is definitely its price. For now, creation of a single application costs about 125 Euros, but the developers of Spoti say they are considering an offer that would allow publishers to use their tool as much as they wish within a certain amount of time (weekly, monthly, we’ll see).
Due to the fact it is based on HTML-5 technology, the application is not distributed via AppStore or Android Market. Instead the final version of the application built in Spoti is given in the form of a link you can save on your tablet’s home screen.
Another advantage is the time needed for such work. In a 3 hour trial I managed to turn a 24 page publication (text and pictures) into the fully operational application. You can view it by opening the following link from your tablet: http://spoti.pl/e-dokument/5810/Raport (the publication is in Polish). It may not look astonishing, but given the fact it took me three hours only to prepare it makes me consider Spoti an interesting tool.
Apps built in Spoti Editor can be both sold or distributed for free, whereas in both situations the user can sell his own advertisements within the app.
Despite the fact that Spoti Editor is no longer in the development stage, it is still going to be improved. So far the applications work only when the device is online. At first this can be treated as a huge disadvantage, but being able to use different Wi-fi zones around the country or simply 3G connection, the user can actually be satisfied he does not have to wait for 200-300 MB to be downloaded.
Despite that fact, the developers of Spoti work on the possibility to allow users to download entire publication to their tablets. When they manage to do so, the publications will have to be distributed through AppStore or Android Market, what again has its pros and cons. Luckily, Spoti Editor’s users will have a choice whether they want the publication to be downloadable or to be accessed online only.
The idea of this post is not to promote Spoti Editor as the ideal tool for publishers. It is however a tool that allows publishers to experiment with applications, their content, learn about their readers and users, and to do this all without risking their entire budget.
Spoti Editor is so far available in only in Poland (one of the biggest media monthlies in Poland – “Press” has already chosen Spoti tool as their solution). Again, the developers are interested in expanding outside of Poland, so the english version of Spoti Editor can be expected soon.
This is just one example of a company trying to build tools to help publishers use HTML5 to distribute their content. Do you know of other interesting examples? Let us know in the comments field.