iPad App is Evri’s Next Stake in the Mobile Arena

By   /  May 13, 2011  /  No Comments

Semantic discovery engine Evri continues is about to put another stake in the mobile arena. It began its major push into the mobile space last year, focusing particularly on connecting consumers to vertical topic content such as tech news, baseball, football and celebrity gossip on the iPhone and Android platforms. The next big launch? Evri for the iPad.

By month’s end Evri expects to have available a private beta version, primarily for journalists and bloggers to try, with an App Store entry to follow shortly thereafter. It will be a content discovery app that, like its web site, finds trending and popular news stories on the web, distills that into topical content streams that users can browse through, and also follow favorite streams based on personalized interests.

“We’ll proactively push all new content we find around the topics you are interested in to your iPad,” says CEO Will Hunsinger. “Much like our current platform we are able to understand each individual piece of content and structured data associated with it and make recommendations of additional content, topics, news streams, or people, places and things you might be interested in based on the entities you extract in the context of articles. We become the discovery and recommendation engine in this format.”

Not yet announced are deals with publishers who will be anchor tenants in the iPad app. Hunsinger says the decision was made to be publisher-friendly, providing snippets and directing end users to original content web sites as well as to work with premier partner publishers in a revenue-sharing mode that features their content as an enriched user experience inside the app.

Hunsinger sees the intersection of mobility and semantic technology as a huge opportunity. Smart phones were the start, but the iPad and the wave of media tablets following on are even bigger game changers. “I think even those of us who were massively optimistic [about the iPad] underestimated how huge the tablet was going to be and how quickly the adoption was going to come,” he says, which led him to call a special board meeting in the interests of “going all in on this tablet. I’d rather be on the front-end of a massive paradigm shift.”

Another effort to be on the front-end of that shift was its recent deal with Samsung, delivering exclusively to its Galaxy Tab is EvriThing Gaming app that lets users keep up with reviews, articles, and screenshots of the genres and titles they care about, and EvriThing Basketball, to get stats, photos and tweets from favorite teams in real time. “There were a couple of advantages we had by going with Samsung initially – number one was immediate built-in distribution in the Samsung Apps Store that is preloaded on Samsung devices vs. fighting the chaos of the general Android marketplace,” Hunsinger says, noting that outside of the U.S. there are millions of Galaxy handsets already in use. “It’s better discoverability in exchange for exclusivity.”

The apps have been on the devices for just around two weeks and there have been 25,000 downloads already. The basketball app is trending as well as the video gaming app, since it’s such a global game now, Hunsinger says, pointing to leagues in Europe, Turkey, China and Japan, not to mention all the foreign-born NBA stars that are “rock stars in their own country.” Given the popularity of that domain to the international set, Evri now is looking at opportunities for some of the other sports that are favorites to fans outside the U.S., such as soccer and cricket, too.

Semantic + Mobile = Challenges

Evri took a hybrid approach to the iPad app – leveraging native IOS functionality but also putting big parts of it in HTML 5 and Javascript – because it wants it to be relatively quickly portable to Android when it’s ready. The development platform for Android has its challenges, he notes, as from a development perspective it’s not as mature as IOS. Then again, the whole idea of developing in the first place an application that cedes control of the content discovery experience to users inherently comes with a lot semantic challenges and mobile technology challenges. “Semantics is not easy, as you know. It’s computationally intensive and now we are dealing with sending that data over the air and presenting it in a compelling way,” he says. There are a ton of permutations for a user to pivot on different topics, so Evri has to do everything dynamically under those conditions. “It’s a pretty interesting challenge as semantic technology becomes mobile semantic technology.”

Helping Evri accomplish its move to all its mobile platforms are the members of the Twine team it picked up in acquiring that startup, including  Bob Morgan, head of business development and marketing  whose been key in creating relationships on the mobile front end, and chief semantic architect Jim Wissner who Hunsinger says has   “been crucial to being able to take this big behemoth and shrink it down onto phones – that’s no small feat.”  Evri Director of Engineering Michael “Misha” Bolotski also has a mobile startup in his background, not to mention expertise in large scale parallel computing. “It’s serendipitous that as I made a big push into mobile that our head of engineering has that mobile background,” he says.

The web, of course, remains a channel for Evri, and now it’s accommodating the desktop, too. It tried last year to write its own desktop client but Hunsinger says that isn’t its core expertise, nor does he want it to be with mobility so high on the agenda, so the effort was ditched in favor of taking the partnership route.

The result will be a desktop plug-in for Seesmic that brings semantic-based content recommendation to the suite of social media management and collaboration tools.









About the author

Jennifer Zaino is a New York-based freelance writer specializing in business and technology journalism. She has been an executive editor at leading technology publications, including InformationWeek, where she spearheaded an award-winning news section, and Network Computing, where she helped develop online content strategies including review exclusives and analyst reports. Her freelance credentials include being a regular contributor of original content to The Semantic Web Blog; acting as a contributing writer to RFID Journal; and serving as executive editor at the Smart Architect Smart Enterprise Exchange group. Her work also has appeared in publications and on web sites including EdTech (K-12 and Higher Ed), Ingram Micro Channel Advisor, The CMO Site, and Federal Computer Week.

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