The June 4 edition of IDG's Network World will have an inscrutable matrix of dots in a box on its table of contents page, along with an invitation: "Scan this code with your cell phone."
Although it may look ordinary, the text box is somewhat revolutionary. It is likely the first time a business publication in the U.S. has offered its readers the option of getting to the information they seek on a Web site via the mobile Internet without keying in or clicking.
"Technology has constantly opened up new channels for our audience to interact with us," said Dan Gallagher, VP-audience and architecture at NetworkWorld.com. "One of these new channels is the mobile Internet. However, we found that the limited usability of cell phones made that channel very cumbersome for our readers."
Network World is working with Nextcode, a provider of software that enables codes to be read by a variety of cameras, processors and optics in standard mobile phones. Users have to download the free code-reading software.
Although it is common in countries such as Japan for consumers to use barcode scanners on cell phones to make purchases and retrieve Web site information, the technology has not caught on in the U.S. Gallagher said Network World might be ahead of its users with this technology, but, as early adopters in general, those users are more likely than most b-to-b audiences to embrace it.
"We're starting out slowly. We're not going to put a tremendous amount of resources against this technology until there's wider adoption," he said. "We will be starting off with a code on our 'T of C' that will enable the user to get up-to-the-minute IT networking news headlines instantly. They will also be able to read any of the stories that catch their eye on their mobile devices."
In the second phase—the timing of which will depend upon user adoption—more capabilities will be added: reading and posting article comments, viewing related articles, and saving and/or e-mailing articles.
On NetworkWorld.com, "the user has a plethora of options to continue their brand experience," Gallagher said. "Through cell phone scanning, we can now offer the same extended brand experience in our print magazine. That is very exciting."