Files under General | Jul 14th


FT is now on the iPhone.

The question is why it took so many months to do it?

This late arrival shows an endemic problem is many of our leading newspaper companies.

In-house developers work very slow or perhaps publishers and editors don’t react as quickly as needed in the new media landscape.

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  1. Jay Small says:

    Juan Antonio,

    It depends what you mean by “on the iPhone.” Many media content providers have mobile-friendly decks that look great on the iPhone — but that isn’t the same as a native iPhone application.

    The biggest problem with native smartphone apps (we’ll take it beyond just the Apple platform) for any developers remains the different, incompatible software development kits for each. An iPhone app won’t run on a BlackBerry, a BB app won’t run natively on Google’s Android, etc. And all the platforms have different sets of capabilities.

    My company, Scripps, does not have developers with expertise in any of the smartphone SDKs, so we’re beholden to what vendors can provide. Vendors in the space tend to build for iPhone first — because they perceive it as hot-hot sexy-sexy — but iPhone apps offer very little additional functionality vs. a common denominator mobile deck. That’s because, at our core, we offer predominantly text and still images, and custom apps don’t “dress those up” much vs. mobile HTML decks.

    Use Safari on your iPhone to take a look at (one of Scripps’ mobile decks) vs. the iPhone application for USAToday. How different are they, really? Is the existence of smoother navigation transitions and slide-up ads enough to justify the expense of the native app? I don’t know the answers, but I am curious for your (and others’) thoughts on it.

    Best regards,
    Jay Small

  2. Jay,

    Thank you for your comment.

    Yes, you are right. We need more standards.

    And regarding, Safari versus native iPhone appllications, INNOVATION’s partner in these issues, Leandro Armas, thinks that comparing the CourierPress versus USA Today perhaps the main difference could be the quality of the “user experience”

    To have your own application in the news category of the iPhone ones (as you know more than 1600 right now) is very attractive.

    But, of course, we cannot forget that Blackberry is also a very popular smartphone and this kind of services must be there too,

  3. @Jay Small

    Consider these:

    TARGET: typical iPhone users are media-savvy early adopters and opinion leaders, better educated and richer than mobile users en masse (source: Rubicon Consulting). The usage of a native app may be smaller than of a mobile site, but these readers may be your best clients (for example ad agency guys).

    PROXIMITY: most iPhone users have just between 26 to 50 third-party apps installed (source: MacWorld). On the web you compete with zillions of news providers, so why not try to reach readers before they go surfing? Your app may be waiting ready literally under their thumbs. It’s like – sorry for this unfashionable comparison – like a home-delivered newspaper that stops people from browsing at a newsstand.

    USER EXPERIENCE: the most appreciated features of my newspaper’s iPhone app (Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland) are its speed and an option to browse all the site’s content offline almost immediately after syncing the app (you can re-sync for updates whenever you want, but you needn’t). It’s great for home wi-fi owners going out, or underground commuters, or money-savers etc. To achieve that kind of simplicity, the app is plain text-based. Last but not least, don’t forget about interactive features like easy feedback that you can embed into your app.

    BUZZ: have you noticed that almost any new newspaper iPhone app gets a media and blogosphere attention from all kind of Apple cult believers? (@ Juan Antonio – no offence here!)

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