Thursday, March 04, 2010

Paying For A Cellphone News App

The Washington Post has launched a paid iPhone application so that owners of the Apple product can read the news on their gadgets. An excerpt:

The Washington Post, which launched a paid news application for Apple's iPhone on Wednesday, is also looking at other platforms but has no plans to charge for its website, a Post executive said.

Goli Sheikholeslami, Post vice president and general manager for digital operations, said the iPhone and iPod Touch application "gives us sort of a sandbox to experiment in and get an idea of what consumers find of value."

"We think it's sort of a great place to start to work on some of these paid premium products," Sheikholeslami told AFP.

The service costs US$1.99 for 12 months, not expensive at all to get news updates on something you can conveniently take with you wherever you go.

I find this significant because if it succeeds, it will be a significant shift in people's news reading habits. It is a bit more difficult to lug around a laptop to read the Post's free website; even the smaller netbook is harder to carry than a cellphone. The US$1.99 price is low enough to be negligible, and it may provide a steady revenue stream for the paper.

If this does pan out, and other papers follow suit, I wonder, would these news outlets still be called "papers"? Will the name carry over?

And what does this portend for magazines? Books? Those that are illustration/photo dependent may not be as easy to translate into the small screen of a mobile, but not so for text only news, articles, and stories.

Again, it all depends on whether the Washington Post's experiement works.


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6:59 PM  

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