Scribd Unveils Mobile Strategy for Online Document Viewing

Known for being an online repository of electronic documents -- self-published books, marketing presentations and brochures, and clippings from other Internet sources -- Scribd claims more than 10 million online documents on its servers. The company recently unveiled a campaign to address mobile users that want to access Scribd documents on these handheld browsers along with emerging eBook Reader devices. Can the company pose a challenge to electronic booksellers Amazon or aggregators like Apple to view electronic content on a broader range of mobile devices?

There is no shortage of content available via the Internet – both good and bad quality. And there are as equally many ways to consume this content today – via web browser, proprietary document viewers, and even dedicated devices. One aspect that has remained elusive is how to organize and present this content in a meaningful way to each user. The opportunity for content delivery networks – whether an online bookstore, a document repository, or user-generated video clips – is to create some stickiness for an audience that cares.

Apple is tackling the challenge with the launch of the iBook store, whichwill initially be available to future iPad owners. Perhaps their strategy will broaden at some point and expand to include the installed bases of iPhone and iPod touch users. In contrast, the Amazon store is useful to those who have a dedicated eBook reader device or a document viewer app for their PC, Mac or smartphone.

Scribd has a differentroadblock entering the mobile market because it is not tied to a specific hardware platform. One might argue that the lack of a tie should make it easier for Scribd, but it means the company has to market and build awareness to the millions (not 'billions' as the company's CEO is quoted as remarking) of PC and smartphone owners who are interested in consuming digital text. It's a formidable task to take on alone, but the company thinks it is up for the challenge.