Goin’ Mobile (But Not Soon Enough)

This comes from an interview with Ed Colligan, CEO of Palm (maker of the Treo device), on current trends in the hand-held marketplace. He is asked about the next “killer-app” in hand-held technology. His response:

When you see our next-gen product, it has a high-speed radio in it, literally bringing kind of broadband connection speeds to the device. It totally changes the dynamic of how accessible the Internet is as an information access point wherever you are and whenever you want to get access to it. Everything from looking up the meaning of words, booking a table at OpenTable.com, to doing a Google search on my family history in Ireland as I’m driving through the Irish coast. It is going to become so much more accessible as the performance of those networks continues to improve that a whole new set of applications are going to be delivered via that. I believe you will suddenly see some of the promise – like not only information access, but commerce and other functionalities – that had been promised a while back relative to cellphones will finally come to fruition.

I’m sure many of us have considered the promise of hand-held devices and the possibilities for allowing access to our resources through them. Excepting some isolated experiments this is one area where academic libraries are behind the technology curve. The medical libraries appear to be doing much more in providing resources for hand-held devices. Admittedly, the difference likely is owing to the publishers of medical texts who are able to capitalize on the hand-held market to create a new medium for delivering their content. So what are the more mainstream database aggregators that offer products to academic libraries doing? What plans do they have, what products are in the pipeline that academic librarians can acquire that will allow them to be a part of what will certainly be a new wave in information access? I did see recently that the CAS division of the American Chemical Society is making content accessible by hand-helds. We need more innovation like that from other content providers. When you see your vendor reps make it a point to bring this up, or otherwise we’ll be unable to connect with our users whenever and wherever they want to connect with us using their hand-held devices.

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