Do you check your email and social networks in the morning? Well, it looks like many of us check to find out what happened while you were sleeping. Except for we're not tucking into a newspaper with our coffee, we're scrolling down a Twitter or a Facebook app.
Could this be why news organizations have developed iPhone apps? I ran a search for news applications at the iTunes News Apps for iPhone and stopped counting at 3,240.
Back in the day when I worked in the ag industry, I learned that farmers are now so sophisticated when it comes to technology, that they could run circles around me. Today, they can do it while getting the weather forecast delivered to them while on the go - through their mobile phone.
I use NPR News, NYTimes, and BBC News, and am planning to expand my selection. I love convenience and no matter how small laptops become, my iPhone is always with me. Now don't get any ideas, though. Read on to find out why.
Mashable wrote up a nice review of the NPR News app this summer. If you're curious about app features and usability, Jonathan Stray provides a comparison of some iPhone news apps. There are companies that put together private label news apps, too. Gizmodo writes that CNN's iPhone app makes other news apps look lazy - saving stories for offline reading, an iReport submission panel, and push notifications for live video streaming are some of the features. They come at a price. The new Reuters application disappoints, writes ReadWriteWeb.
Given the increase in the number of people who will have access to high speed, Internet-enabled devices in years to come, news organizations have joined many other companies that are ahead of the game on portability.
The best part on this is that news organizations have a new opportunity to be portable with relevance. In an age when magazines and newspapers are not a daily habit as much any more, news apps incorporate portability with immediacy - push notifications are an example of that.
What can businesses learn from news apps?
A couple of years ago we talked about providing value in exchange for presence on mobile phones. Great brands provide utility, experimentation, design of experience, create a sense of community with customers, and change the model.
How do you get invited in people's phones? As I wrote about two years ago, it comes down to:
1. Publishing great content - this is something you will continue to see everywhere. In fact, it's becoming a big issue for many who launch Web properties and then scramble to stay competitive with content. Imagine how much harder to feed the Web that feeds the phone. It's a completely new way of organizing content.
2. Being real - we got past the empty "hi, how are you, I'm on a train now having a sandwich" kind of real. Put the calories in the purpose and utility of the exchange instead. Education, entertainment and engagement are good starting points, depending on what your brand stands for. We'd like to have more education and utility when it comes to news.
3. Giving the inside scoop - what's behind the scenes, how quickly can we learn about something? This still seems to be faster in social networks, but only because we're not burdened by the bigger scoop for the news organization, which is monetized heavily.
4. Being personal - digital body language tracking and all that, a personal relationship still outweighs any spooky kind of gimmicky stuff like "I noticed you were browsing on that site" and helps tremendously with the "so what" factor.
5. Allowing a conversation - mobile begins to fare much better than social this year.
From what I've seen so far, NPR is the better experience overall. The nonprofit organization has done very well at reinventing the community experience through new media, and that includes mobile news.
Think you can provide the kind of value your readers will pay for? Josh Sprague provides some step by step instructions on how to set up your own pay wall.
What would bring even more utility to a news app for you? Do you have any favorites? Why? What do you consider intrusive for your phone? Are your barriers lowering with use?
© 2006-2010 Valeria Maltoni. All rights reserved.