Wednesday, February 01, 2006

eNews project takes mobile e-reading lead

Ifra sets up unique cooperative initiative in response to the emerging mobile e-reading market

Darmstadt, 1st February 2006 – Ifra is joining forces with more than 20 of the world’s leading publishing houses in a unique three-year initiative. The eNews project, which also partners a number of top technology developers in the area of mobile e-reading, has been set up to meet the new and changing needs of mobile media consumers, to create and sustain business, take control of markets and adapt to new technology.

Mobile media consumers today have access to connected devices such as mobile phones, PDAs and laptops, for which business models for content providers are reasonably well developed. However, publishers have generally followed rather than lead in this market. With up and coming e-reading devices, several of which are being launched in the next couple of years, publishers will be presented with new business opportunities, and opportunities to take the initiative.

The eNews initiative will look at what opportunities there are for content providers, such as publishers, in the emerging eNews value chain. The project’s first three day seminar opened this week in Eindhoven, The Netherlands. Ifra CEO Reiner Mittelbach said: “Together the member companies will be exploring business opportunities and technologies, tracking consumer behaviour and expectations, exchanging experiences and building know-how. Newspaper publishers are in an excellent position to take advantage of this new market, and through the eNews initiative we aim to take the lead.“

Mike Patten, Managing Director Circulation Marketing at the New York Times, explained why the New York Times Company thinks it is important to take part in the eNews initiative: “The newspaper industry needs to act collectively in order to be able to determine what our future should be in mobile e-reading – together we carry a lot of weight.“

Historically, it has been the developers of electronic consumer devices who have aimed, not just to sell the technology, but also to control the consumers, the marketplaces and the distribution. The current increase in mobile media channels offers content providers new business opportunities as well as challenges. The eNews initiative aims to provide publishers with know-how on business models as well as process technology, thereby allowing them to make well-founded strategic decisions. Furthermore, by joining forces, the participants have an opportunity to act as a powerful lobby group vis-à-vis technology and service providers in the area of mobile e-reading. Comments Stig Nordqvist, project leader: ” The weight of the participating members means the group will be able to act as a significant lobby group. The project members are all top players in media convergence globally.“

The eNews project will run through 2008, during which time activities will include seminars, study tours and commissioning of consumer research.

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