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Rapid innovation in a world of apps

You may be excused for thinking that the world is changing, but for children, change has already happened. In the blink of an eye, the iPad has united new and old with no respect for traditional boundaries. Fortunately, Egmont Kids Media's digital task force is on the ball.

  • Graphic designer Jonas Sonne presents the plan.

    Graphic designer Jonas Sonne presents the plan.

Earlier this year digital development head, Maz Spork, put together a team of digital creatives in a Copenhagen office and charged them with a mission that you may envy or commiserate depending on your perspective: Establish the team, develop all work processes virtually from scratch, and publish a significant number of apps. All at the same time, and all before Christmas 2012.

The team, expert user-experience designers and illustrators, will thus support Egmont's goal of having a 200+ app portfolio by the time you pour the new year's champagne. A goal meant to solidify the burgeoning integration between our print and digital business.

To be blunt about it, the team – although combining vast experience – is learning by doing. To Maz Spork, this is the only way in a constantly changing market:

"In terms of innovation, tablet technology has gone mainstream with unprecedented speed. To me, the iPad is simply the defining new toy for youngsters and we're just now realizing its potential for combining entertainment and learning."

For maximum efficiency under these circumstances the team subscribes fully to the "agile" philosophy of development. In this tradition, large projects are divided into discrete "sprints" allowing for constant evaluation and the all-important ability to learn on-the-go. By being agile, the developers come to appreciate the affordances of the content but are also able to reflect on the bigger picture. Says Spork:

"We learn, as we go, which skills we need to develop and which processes we should leave to others. In other words, we are defining our future core digital competencies in Egmont."

Products for unknown platforms

Where the user may see a cornucopia of devices, each with their own strengths, Spork's team sees a massive challenge. Unable to work with a fixed platform, they must be able to cover screen sizes and interfaces yet unseen and work with widely varying operating systems, distribution channels and payment systems. Thus, while acutely devoted to quality content they must also continuously deepen their understanding of the technological market landscape.

"We have to consider how Egmont can create high-quality stories and experiences for children in the future in a way that doesn't explode our budgets as new screens continue to appear. And while we keep this in mind, we must obviously also differentiate ourselves and deliver apps that show both children and their parents that there are thinking, well-intentioned and serious people behind the product. People who are devoted to A-class entertainment" says Spork.

A tall order, but if enthusiasm and dedication is any measure, this team will pull it off.

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