I love reading newspapers, and I have a 45-minute train ride to work and that’s perfect for newspaper reading. But the newspaper box at the train station has eaten more than its fair share of my pocket change even when I do have quarters (which is almost never) . And I’m too lazy to get out of my nice warm car on cold mornings and pick up a paper at a convenience store. So these days, I’ve been reading newspaper content on my mobile device of choice (a painfully slow Blackberry).

I’ve noticed a few things about mobile newspaper web sites. First of all, they’re not that great, at least not the ones for the two major Boston papers. They don’t seem to be optimized for the Blackberry. Unnecessary photos slow things down. Navigation is difficult. And the section landing pages don’t always match the print version; for example, sometimes the top story in the sports section is a stale one from two days ago. However, the content’s free – for now – so I guess I can’t kick.

But it made me realize how challenging manage multiple online experiences has become. My colleagues Josh Bernoff and Shar VanBoskirk wrote a great piece about the “splinternet”, which discusses how our online experiences are splintering across multiple devices and touch points. Content and collaboration pros supporting Web content management (WCM) implementations are in for a battle to support mobile Web sites. After speaking with a number of clients about this, the biggest concerns are around:

  • Number of devices. Most companies simply don’t have the resources to manage device-specific content and presentation for a multitude of devices. WCM vendor FatWire takes an interesting approach here – grouping devices into “families” that share similar characteristics like screen size and supported media formats.  Then, they allow for the tailoring of more device-specific presentations within each family.
  • Production efficiencies. Managing mobile experiences alongside traditional Web sites is currently a major pain point for those who are trying to figure out the right mix of asset re-use and device-specific content while staying maintaining consistency. Adobe has released a new mobile module for its Day Communiqué WCM product that aims to maximize the reuse of content and assets by automatically optimizing them for mobile devices.
  • Globalization and localization. Some companies have expressed interest for tailoring content for a select number of devices that their customers use most often.  This presents a significant opportunity to a vendor like SDL, whose Tridion product has long been considered a leader in globalization functionality and who has the opportunity to continue to expand the concept of globalization beyond just language translation.

Other WCM vendors are ramping up their mobile functionality as well. Since this functionality is in various stages of maturity, watch for these mobile capabilities to be a significant differentiator in the WCM market over the next year (we’re going to be evaluating them as part of our upcoming Web Content Management Wave for Online Experience). Also, be sure to keep up to date on how your WCM vendor plans to support mobile experiences. And we’d love to hear about how you are supporting mobile web sites, and whether or not your WCM product of choice is helping you … or hindering you when supporting the splinternet.