Using its m-Publishing technology, which makes content compatible across handheld platforms, startup Mobifusion is working with several publishers to create mobile products from books. Chris McKenney, cofounder and chief content officer of Mobifusion (and former COO of Publishers Group West), said his new company is funded by the founders and venture capital. The company has offices in Fremont, Calif., and near Delhi, India.
So far Avalon, New World Library, Simon & Schuster and Gallup Press are among the publishers to provide Mobifusion with digital book content to make into mobile products. When Gallup published 12: The Elements of Great Managinglast month, Mobifusion made the book's content available to wireless providers and on online retail sites like Handango (www.handandgo.com).
"We have kinks to work out within the platform so that it can work across any handheld," said McKenney. Pricing is also still being worked out, but he said downloads would probably be close to a book's cover price and subscriptions could run anywhere from $2 to $5 per month, depending on the product. McKenney likened Mobifusion's role in the exchange to that of a book distributor selling to national accounts.
Gallup publisher Pio Juszkiewicz said that while it's too soon to see any real results from the test, he liked what Mobifusion presented when they met at BEA in 2005. "Business readers tend to be technologically advanced," said Juszkiewicz. "From that point of view, it made sense for us to explore it. 12is a great title for this and they quickly put it into the formats."
Kevan Lyon, the former executive v-p at Advanced Marketing Services, first joined Mobifusion as a consultant and is now executive v-p for publishing content. She noted that Mobifusion is not interested in creating e-books, but in presenting book content that is valuable for a mobile user. In the case of 12, that could be nuggets of business information, while New World Library's Power of Now could be offered to consumers who want to receive an inspirational message every morning, McKenney said. Mobifusion has also worked with Avalon Publishing to test Rick Steves's travel titles.
Mobifusion also thought Star Trek titles would make great mobile products. "I was a skeptic," said Claire Israel, director of digital content and business development at S&S. "But they have technology that can do really cool stuff. We sent them some titles and they are showing us what they can do." She said she could envision mobile possibilities for Buffy the Vampire Slayer titles and for children's books as well, but added that S&S does not yet have a deal with Mobifusion. Still, Israel noted, "It's impossible to ignore the fact that content is going to go where the people are. It's all just a matter of time."