Understanding the nuance between the terms "mobile," "digital," "apps" and the variety of features available is critical to delivering experiences your customers demand. Because not all apps are created equal, this blog post presents common questions publishers have about apps and functionality that should be considered.

What is the difference between the terms “mobile,” “apps,” and “digital?”

Mobile refers to the mobile devices we use to communicate. When considering apps, you need to ensure content is delivered and presented in the intended format across mobile devices. Currently, we have four formats:

  1. iOS (example: iPhone and iPad)
  2. Android (example: Samsung Galaxy S4)
  3. Amazon Android (example: Kindle Fire)
  4. Windows (example: Microsoft Surface)

Apps is short for applications. Apps are software packages designed to run on smartphones, tablet computers, and other mobile devices. Some apps can run on desktops and laptops; whereas other apps might only be available for the iPhone. Apps can be free to end-users or they can cost money to download. Some apps can be free to download with monetization embedded in the app itself.

When speaking in app terminology, the term digital delivery is used to represent the delivery of non-print content to multiple targets. It’s typically a broader term that denotes content delivery in a digital format, which could be an app, website, XML, RSS feed.

How does the breakdown of smartphones and tablets fit into the equation? Are tablets considered "mobile"?

Indeed, tablets and smartphones are considered “mobile devices.” It’s well understood that more consumers expect content be consumed across their various devices and each device will present that content in a way that is specific to the app. So if you read content on the wide screen of your laptop, that same content should present itself differently when accessed via an iPhone.

What kind of data/trends/indications are you seeing from the mobile market in terms of growth of readership? Why is this an important market to be in?

The mobile market is certainly trending to experience tremendous growth in 2014. Over the past year, our metrics indicate that the majority of users still use a desktop as primary access but tablet and mobile device usage continues to increase. The iPad and iPhone lead in terms of mobile devices used to access content. However, as of September 12, 2013 we are tracking more than 585 devices that connect to Cenveo Mobile dPub.

So what's an app exactly?

An “app,” short for application, is a shell that directs a person to specific content. Cenveo Publisher Services offers a three-tier system for publishers to present content via its Cenveo Mobile dPub framework:

Starter Edition

A PDF replica with online functionality that users have come to expect on mobile devices. Functionality comprises the ability to flip through pages, search, increase text size, etc.

Business Edition

This offering accepts structured content as input, which results in more interactivity of the content when it’s put into the application. Think of things like references connected to databases and user interactivity like videos and audio.

Custom Edition

This highly specialized solution is only limited by a publisher’s imagination. Cenveo Publisher Services can customize content, usability, and interactivity to deliver any experience for your targeted audience.


Where do the terms eBooks and "digital editions" fit into this scheme?

eBooks are a digital representation of a print book and are created using the ePub or mobi file format. eBooks require a “reader” such as a Kindle, Nook, or iPad reader application to access and view the content.

Digital editions is a term used to reference magazine or media content on a digital device such as a browser or iPad.

Does digital just mean "not print"?

Correct. You can think of the term digital as an offering that is not provided on the printed page.

What is Cenveo doing in this area? What do you excel at?

We have developed a number of innovative offerings for our customers. Georgetown University Law Center recently transitioned to an online e-commerce platform that we developed to deliver its course packs in real-time with custom branding. Course packs were previously created through a manual process that required staff to sit in a copy center and collate content. Now students can access course packs through a browser interface on a laptop or iPad and download PDFs or a printed, perfect bound product. The e-commerce capability results in immediate revenue for Georgetown in addition to cost-savings in content production and staffing.

We also offer an STM journal app (via the Business Edition of Mobile dPub) that provides publishers with an easy way to showcase journal content in a dedicated application on the iPad or Android device.

When you say "not all apps are created equal," what do you mean?

Quite simply, some apps have more interactivity to engage readers, while some apps are a digital reproduction of the printed product. One is not necessarily superior to the other. It really depends on what a publisher wants to offer its customers and what customers expect from various types of content. For example, a children’s app is probably expected to have more interactivity and pedagogical engagement than a trade book publisher’s ebook.

What kind of functionality should publishers consider?

When moving into the digital world, it can be overwhelming and confusing. The great thing is that you can start at a digital baseline; capture user metrics like devices used and time on specific content areas; and even facilitate user feedback. You can test many concepts and evolve your digital path and offering. And the great thing that digital has over print is the speed in which these things can happen. Cenveo Publisher Services consults with publishers and helps them determine and execute a digital product plan.

What features are growing in popularity or becoming industry standard?

For ebooks we find that most users expect the same high standards that good printers provide. Cenveo Publisher Services has offered print solutions for more than 125 years and that expertise flows into our ebook publication process. Things like clean fonts, text flow, image placement, and other “typical” print standards are provided in every ebook we create. For apps, users tend to want interactivity. The depth of that interactivity depends on your content and budget.

Digital publishing is complex because of the inherent fragmentation across operating systems, manufacturers, hardware, app stores, and geography:


Cenveo Mobile dPub is our digital solution that delivers optimal mobile content experiences across all devices. We’ve invested heavily in technology solutions that support mobile delivery targets. We believe that publishers are best at content creation and management. With the Cenveo Mobile dPub framework, we provide publishers with a solution that allows them to focus on content in a delivery-neutral environment while we focus on the software development and acceptance in the various online storefronts.

To learn more about Cenveo Mobile dPub and select a package that fits your content and budget, simply click here!

AuthorMike Groth