DAM and mobile: should you go with a dedicated mobile app?

  • 26-May-2011

As I prepare my plenary session presentation for the upcoming Henry Stewart conferences in New York and London, I'm doing a lot of research on how well digital & media asset management (DAM) tools adapt to mobile environments.

Several DAM vendors, most prominently OpenText's Media Manager (formerly Artesia), offer Flash-based user interfaces. Others, such as MediaBeacon and celum (a vendor whose IMAGINE software will be evaluated in our next DAM research release), are very strictly HTML-based. North Plains, who will roll out version 9 of Telescope in a couple months, has a new HTM5-based interface, as well.

Since Flash applications don't work on the iPad, vendors like MediaBeacon use HTML5 as a selling point -- their application can work on the iPad, because it works in Safari. OpenText, meanwhile, has developed its own iPad-specific DAM app, which allows for asset review, video playback, and workflow approvals. 

So which is "better" -- the application that works on an iPad because it works in Safari, or the application that's designed for a specific device?

Neither is inherently better, despite vendors asserting otherwise. Though it's nice to be able to access a DAM application's full functionality via a tablet's web browser, that application isn't necessarily taking advantage of the form factor and the touch screen the way a custom tablet application might. Many web-based apps detect Safari and say, "this is a Mac, deliver the UI as if it's a Mac," without taking full advantage of touch screen gestures. It's still a mouse-oriented, drag-this-little-bar-to-the-right function to make assets bigger, as if the tablet was just about touching the screen in one place.  

So, even if an application works in your tablet browser, that doesn't mean the application is working any differently than it does on your bulky laptop (or desktop). This can be considered good or bad, depending on your perspective.

Despite the hype about tablet apps, there's no reason to choose or eliminate a vendor from your selection process just because they don't have a mobile-specific app. Be sure to look at what your real mobile use cases are: you may not need to edit video segments on your tablet -- even if a vendor tells you that you can.

I'll be exploring the topic of DAM and mobile further for our DAM research subscribers over the coming months, as well in my presentations at the upcoming Henry Stewart conferences. 

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