Magazine article Information Today

Mobile Answer Products and Services

Magazine article Information Today

Mobile Answer Products and Services

Article excerpt

Several decades ago, I joined a focus group--well, sort of a focus group, more like a 2-day consulting committee--to advise a major full-text news service on future strategies. I remember arguing that it should consider how to exploit its absolutely massive full-text news archives and develop new product lines consisting of specific answer products. It could then sell the small targeted answer products at a range of prices that would attract new users, some of whom might someday pay the high prices set for the mother lode service. Even if that didn't happen, the potential for establishing broad market awareness seemed too advantageous to avoid.

Well, I thought that was a good strategy. But at least I got a free plane ride home.

Of course, we all know what happened. The future. The internet. The web. Mobile computing. Answer products are the most popular digital services and are likely to remain so. At this point, large search engines (or should we call them answer engines?) are customizing their search results to the interests of individual users with specific answers that suit individual tastes and needs. With the rise of mobile computing, success in using and selling app answer products can depend on what device users possess--smartphones or tablets.

A recent study by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and Prosper Insight shows that users age 35 and older are more likely to use tablets to make purchases. Of course, it could be that the older you get, the less likely you are to enjoy squinting at the small smartphone screen for any longer than necessary. And those older than 35 are more likely to have a disposable income, which makes seeking information for high-ticket items more important. (To download the "IAB 2015 Digital Shopping Report: Guide to Mobile Devices and Holiday Shopping," go to iab .com/insights/digitalshopping.)

The report also indicates that more than half of U.S. adults use either or both devices to browse for products, and around one-third use them to comparison-shop or read reviews. This could explain why the world's biggest e-retailer, Amazon, is selling its Fire tablets at prices from $50 to $200, while you can watch Microsoft and Apple push their high-end tablets with television commercials that do not mention price at all--which is hardly surprising at $900 for Microsoft and $800 for Apple. …

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