BtoB for iPad focused on PDF fulfillment

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B-to-b lead-generation marketing company NetLine Corp. last week introduced a free app for the Apple iPad and plans to extend the app to the Android, BlackBerry and Windows 7 platforms this summer.

The app, called for iPad, allows users to select and download PDFs directly to their iPads. The app is an extension of the website, which provides free trade publication subscriptions and white paper downloads. The app offers business content from thousands of b-to-b websites, including analyst reports, e-books, case studies and white papers.

“It's a nice extension to reach out to a new audience base in the mobile platforms, but we're still concretely focused on monetizing that experience as well,” said David Fortino, VP-audience development for NetLine. introduced an iPhone app in February. The for iPad app runs a list of featured content, which rotates daily, along with a “categories” link in the upper left-hand corner of the screen. B-to-b categories on the app run the gamut: financial, industrial, manufacturing, technology and healthcare.

For existing subscribers of NetLine's site, access to the content on the iPad app is automatic via a login, while new iPad users need to register their accounts.

Barely a year old, the iPad has taken the digital market by storm. Apple sold almost 15 million iPads in 2010, and analysts are projecting that the company could sell more than 25 million this year. Apple's iPad 2 debuted in March.

“Part of the move here was that we were seeing a dramatic shift in our site visitation being driven by mobile devices,” Fortino said.

A key component of the platform is fulfilling PDF-type documents, according to Fortino. “Our goal for the app wasn't just about making white papers, e-books and similar content available,” he said.

He added: “Knowing our target audience travels quite a bit, and knowing that Internet access isn't always available, it was really important for us to be able to give users the tools that they can download the content, store it locally on their [handheld] devices and read it back anytime they like.”

So far, some publishers are sticking with providing existing content for the app, while others being more aggressive and experimental in producing original content, Fortino said.

“Any app that's really worth its salt is something that people are committed toward, versus putting something out there and saying, "Yeah, we'll do mobile, too,' ” he said.

He said that traditional trade magazines have been slow to expand their content for the iPad and other tablets because of the how their content is digitally produced. “Most of the publishers are providing an electronic or digital version of their magazines), but it's all typically in a Flash or HTML5-type format, it's not necessarily something that's packaged in a PDF-type form,” Fortino said. “A lot of publishers have focused on digital fulfillment of their publications, but they've partnered with other platforms that are really Web-based. ... Developing an app is a completely different dynamic than building a website.”

Oracle Corp. sponsors the app. New iPad users will have exclusive access to relevant content from the software company.

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