Encyclopaedia Britannica enters the app game

Oct 5, 2011
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Although Wikipedia may be the go-to web-based encyclopedia for many a college student, a prestigious competitor – Encyclopaedia Britannica – is finally launching a low-priced mobile app for those seeking information with more backing than the community-written Wikipedia. The Britannica has long operated a paid website that offers content for $70 per year, much lower […]

Although Wikipedia may be the go-to web-based encyclopedia for many a college student, a prestigious competitor – Encyclopaedia Britannica – is finally launching a low-priced mobile app for those seeking information with more backing than the community-written Wikipedia. The Britannica has long operated a paid website that offers content for $70 per year, much lower than the $1,400 price tag for its print edition; and now users can get the content for just $2 per month, or $24 annually.

The free-to-download iPad app is set to hit the market in a few weeks. It will be free of ads, unlike its web-based edition, and offer a small amount of free content for non-subscribers. The app will later be launched for the iPhone and Android. The app will feature a “link map” showing the links between topics in a visual format.  At the top of each article page is an icon that generates a spider web of icons representing other articles related to the original source.

The app is expected to compete with Wikipedia, which offers its crowd-source content via a variety of iPad apps. It will feature 140,000 articles, compared with 3.7 million articles available on Wikipedia. According to Walt Mossberg at All Things D, the new app may lack some of the contemporary content available on Wikipedia, but does have some more specialized content that is often written by credentialed academics, journalists and other experts. Meanwhile, Wikipedia contributors are often very difficult or impossible to identify.

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Countless users will continue to rely on Wikipedia for their free encyclopedic quests. But for those doing research and looking for a low-cost alternative with well-documented sourcing, this new app will be the perfect platform – especially when it is available on all major mobile platforms.

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