Mobile Manga

Google Analytics has now added separate segmentation for mobile users.  I’ve been looking at mine lately and I don’t have many mobile users visiting my blog.   But, then again, my anime and manga blog is not mobile friendly because the widgets and the large images make it slow to load over mobile.  Also, since I deliver my manga in zip files that are usually 5MB or larger, mobile viewers can’t view my work.  I’ve found on my iPhone that I can’t download the zip files, so there really is no reason to view my blog unless the reader wishes to actually read my prose.   I wonder, though, since most mobile screens are so small,  are they relevant manga viewers?   But then I consider the future.  The tablets are coming and, so, perhaps, I should be prepared?

Many of the manga aggregation sites I visit are in the early phases of experimenting with delivering manga images via mobile devices.  I’ve attempted to read manga on my iPhone and it’s no fun because my iPhone’s screen is too small.  I’ve also read manga using my mini-note.  The problem with the mini-note, though, isn’t the size, so much as the image needs to be rotated 90-degrees to see a full manga page at a reasonable size.  (By the way, I’m still waiting for that little application on my mini-note that rotates the screen and remaps the mouse pad and the arrow keys so I can use it as an e-reader…)  My guess, though, is that the manga aggregation sites are welcoming the tablet PC with open arms and making preparations for explosive growth.  I wonder how this effort compares to that of the actual the actual manga license holders and legitimate distributors?

So far, the mobile manga efforts appear to be rudimentary.  The sites are using simple “liquid layouts” and have stripped out most of the content. leaving the page image and basic navigation.  The images, too, are smaller and more compressed.   Here’s an example of the difference between the default site and the mobile site from the One Manga website:

Default Site

Mobile Site

One Manga gives the viewer 3 size options, but there’s nothing fancy like Google maps’s ability to zoom in on an illegible section.  Regardless, it’s a good start and they are thinking ahead to the coming technology.

I think it’s very interesting that the folks who are taking the first steps toward mobile manga delivery are not the big publishers.   Again, we have a situation where resistance to evolving technology or the inability to adapt quickly is leaving big businesses open to somebody else meeting the unfulfilled wants and needs for their products.  With respect to sites like One Manga, the product is being given out for free by fans who are doing the manga translations as labors of love.  But as a consequence, the expectation that manga is free online is being reinforced further.  This may also prevent mobile manga delivery from being one of the value adds that could have been monetized directly by the legitimate distributor.  Regardless, I applaud One Manga and sites like it for their foresight and a willingness to innovate.

There’s a lingering question, though.  If One Manga and sites like it aren’t doing this for money (perhaps they get enough money from advertising to cover the cost of servers), then why are they constantly moving forward and innovating?   I wonder has it ever occurred to big business that money isn’t the only thing to compete over?   But more on that at another time…