In­ter­net giants race to faster mo­bile news apps

The China Post - - WORLD BUSINESS - BY THOMAS UR­BAIN

U.S. tech giants are turn­ing to the news in their com­pe­ti­tion for mo­bile users, de­vel­op­ing new, faster ways to de­liver con­tent, but the ben­e­fits for strug­gling media out­lets re­main un­clear.

Mo­bile “drives so much traf­fic” be­cause many peo­ple start their day read­ing news on a phone or tablet, said Cindy Krum, chief ex­ec­u­tive at Mo­bileMoxie, a mo­bile mar­ket­ing con­sul­tancy.

Sev­eral new apps hope to cap­i­tal­ize on that by at­tract­ing news read­ers and the advertising U.S. dol­lars they bring.

Ap­ple News, an app in­cluded in Ap­ple’s up­dated iOS 9 mo­bile op­er­at­ing sys­tem, launched last month, de­liv­ers con­tent from more than 50 media part­ners, in­clud­ing the New York Times, Van­ity Fair and Vogue.

Face­book launched its “In­stant Ar­ti­cles” ear­lier this year in part­ner­ship with a num­ber of media or­ga­ni­za­tions to pro­vide ac­cess to the news 10 times more quickly, through its so­cial media in­fra­struc­ture, than most news web­sites do.

And Google is said to be pre­par­ing a sim­i­lar sys­tem in part­ner­ship with Twit­ter to al­low mo­bile users to fully load an ar­ti­cle on their phone in a frac­tion of a sec­ond, com­pared with nearly 10 sec­onds to­day.

The rapid de­vel­op­ment of the news prod­ucts demon­strates how mo­bile has be­come the new bat­tle­ground for tech com­pa­nies seek­ing to keep users within their ecosys­tems, where they can reach them with more prod­ucts, ser­vices and advertising.

“There’s a big com­pe­ti­tion for mind share,” Amer­i­cans spend an av­er­age of three hours per day on mo­bile de­vices, com­pared to just over two hours on PCs, ac­cord­ing to the re­search firm eMar­keter.

Mo­bile advertising is surg­ing. North Amer­i­can mo­bile ad spend­ing is set to jump to US$61 bil­lion by 2018 from US$19.7 bil­lion last year, ac­cord­ing to eMar­keter.

A New Model?

The moves are giv­ing media com­pa­nies in­cen­tives to make their prod­ucts more mo­bile friendly.

The New York Times will al­low ac­cess to 30 free ar­ti­cles per day on Ap­ple News, for in­stance, com­pared with 10 per month for read­ers who go to the daily’s web­site or news ap­pli­ca­tion.

But it re­mains un­clear whether these new apps will help news or- ga­ni­za­tions find a last­ing eco­nomic model to sur­vive the dig­i­tal age.

Ac­cord­ing to the Pew Re­search Cen­ter, daily U.S. print cir­cu­la­tion is down 19 per­cent over the past decade and print advertising has fallen more than 60 per­cent.

In com­bat­ing that de­cline, news or­ga­ni­za­tions have to de­cide whether to go af­ter dig­i­tal read­ers on their own or to team up with tech firms.

In these new apps, the pub­lish­ers ap­pear to have cho­sen the lat­ter.

For both Ap­ple and Face­book, news pub­lish­ers will be able to keep 100 per­cent of ad rev­enues they gen­er­ate them­selves and 70 per­cent of the rev­enue from ads sold by the tech plat­forms.

“For now, the agree­ments look pretty fa­vor­able to the pub­lish­ers,” said Rick Ed­monds, media busi­ness an­a­lyst for the Poyn­ter In­sti­tute for Media Stud­ies.

But Ed­monds said the long-term im­pacts re­main un­clear, es­pe­cially as to how the part­ner­ships will af­fect the dig­i­tal sub­scrip­tions or pur­chases of in­di­vid­ual ar­ti­cles pre­vi­ously sold di­rectly by the media out­lets.

“It’s an open ques­tion,” Ed­monds said.

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