Mobile Media: News about mobile & its applications & implications for media. Written by Jeff Sonderman with contributions from Regina McCombs. Suggest a story.

Esquire app on an iPad

Why news organizations shouldn’t write off tablet magazines

Jon Lund in GigaOM recently declared tablet magazines a failure.

That’s true in the sense that they haven’t substantially impacted overall magazine circulation. Using Alliance of Audited Media numbers, Lund lists the percentages that “digital replica” paid subscriptions, such as for tablets, contributes to the total circulation for 25 magazines. They ranged from a high of 38 percent of total circulation (Game Informer Magazine, a noted outlier) to 2 percent (People magazine).

Like Lund, I’d discourage any new publication from focusing solely on tablet apps, stored deep inside iPad folders or in the dreaded Newsstand, far from the dynamic reach of social media and the Web.

But sometimes it’s nice to retreat to a dark, quiet, closed-off space on a tablet. And magazine apps are contributing enough to circulation figures that we shouldn’t write them off as worthwhile components of our larger digital strategies — especially if publishers are smart about how much they invest in producing them. Read more

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Thursday, Aug. 01, 2013

Facebook Instagram

What news organizations can learn from Facebook’s remarkable mobile turnaround

Just last year, Facebook was the punching bag of mobile. Users hated its mobile app, and investors fumed over the social network’s dismal IPO.

“Facebook is a bad investment,” read one Forbes headline, underlining the widespread doubts that Facebook and its pricey new acquisition Instagram would be able to monetize one of the fastest consumer shifts in recent history: the move from desktops to mobile devices.

Everything changed last week when Facebook revealed jaw-dropping mobile numbers: 41 percent of total ad revenue originated from mobile to the tune of $656 million in a single quarter. “Soon we’ll have more revenue on mobile than desktop,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg said, adding that the company has surpassed one million active advertisers. Facebook counted 819 million mobile monthly active users, and 219 million of them never visit Facebook.com on the desktop.

Facebook’s incredible mobile turnaround is packed full of valuable insights for news organizations. Read more

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Monday, July 22, 2013

Tablets3

How news organizations are experimenting with ‘digestible digital weeklies’ on mobile devices

In the world of magazines, monthly printing provides content in tidy but untimely bundles, while Web posting does so in immediate but disorderly bursts.

Hoping to seize on the advantages of both models while ditching the downsides, two venerable monthly magazine brands are experimenting with a third publishing option that’s somewhere in the middle: digestible digital weeklies.

Enter Esquire Weekly for iPad and The Atlantic Weekly for iPad and iPhone, launched in May and June, respectively.

The iPad turned three in April, and much of the conversation in the news business since its launch has been about how to make tablet Web browsing better (by designing responsive sites) and how to best adapt the print product to the tablet (by adding interactive bells and whistles to existing stories and layouts with an app).

That made sense: not only did infrastructure already exist in those two spaces, but it also wasn’t clear how, where and when tablets would be used — mainly because, until August 2011, fewer than 10 percent of Americans owned them. Read more

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Monday, Apr. 01, 2013

Google Android Gadget

As Android tablets grow, publishers struggle to match the iPad experience

When the IDC forecast this month that Google’s Android operating system would soon surpass Apple’s iOS in tablet market share, publishers of digital magazines could be excused for some handwringing.

Since 2010, Apple’s dominance of the market allowed publishers to reach the majority of the tablet audience by targeting just one device: the iPad. But times have changed.

Thirty-one percent of American adults now own tablets, according to Pew. Much of the growth in the market is being driven by device proliferation, and many of these devices run Android.

The Nexus 10 Android tablet
A Google employee browses magazine issues on The Nexus 10 tablet at a Google announcement in San Francisco last fall. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

The relative affordability and portability of new down-sized tablets like the Nexus 7 offer more entry points for tablet consumers, but they present headaches for digital magazine publishers: How do they best reach readers on dozens of different devices with wildly varying screen sizes and processing power? Read more

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Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013

mobilenews

5 reasons mobile will disrupt journalism like the Internet did a decade ago

Imagine being able to rewind to the 1990s and help your news organization make key decisions — and create new habits — to help prevent a landslide of layoffs and enable the business to thrive on the Internet. That’s the opportunity we have today with mobile, the second tidal wave of change about to collide with the news industry.

To compete in this new world, news organizations must adopt a “mobile first” mindset and create sustainable mobile businesses. But many newsrooms believe that a “mobile, too” approach will be enough, as advocated by Business Insider’s Henry Blodget.

“The reality is that we live in a multi-screen world, not a ‘mobile world’ that operates parallel to a ‘desktop world,’” he writes in a blog post. “For some services, such as news and information, the laptop/desktop screen is still by far the most dominant screen. So abandoning that screen, or designing for another screen first, just doesn’t make sense.”

Blodget’s view is matched by many in journalism, but it misses the big picture. Read more

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Monday, Dec. 03, 2012

the daily

2 major lessons from the demise of The Daily

The publisher of News Corp.’s The Daily said earlier this year that the iPad-only publication might need a few more years to be profitable. Today the company announced it won’t get that chance.

Although it has been one of the most-popular and highest-grossing iPad news apps, The Daily was unable to gather enough paying subscribers at 99 cents a week or $39.99 a year to sustain itself.

In a note to staff, The Daily’s publisher and editor-in-chief said, “Although we have over 100,000 passionate paying subscribers, unfortunately we have not been able to build a big enough audience fast enough to make our business model work.”

News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch set a high bar. He said early on that The Daily would be a success “when we are selling millions.” With expenses running at about a half million dollars a week, the publication would have needed near 500,000 subscribers at $3.99 a month or $39.99 a year just to break even. Read more

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Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2012

apple

What journalists should know about the new iPad mini

Of all the mobile devices launched in recent years, the iPad has been the most promising for the journalism business.

iPad owners are more likely than others to use the devices to keep up with news, and compared to other types of tablet owners they are more likely to download news apps and over five times more likely to subscribe to digital news products.

The iPad hasn’t been a savior for legacy media companies, but it has offered the brightest light at the end of the tunnel.

So many journalists should be watching closely and thinking critically today as Apple makes its biggest tablet-related announcement since the original iPad launch in 2010. At 1 p.m. ET (10 a.m. in San Jose, Calif.), Apple will reveal a new smaller version of the iPad — nicknamed the “iPad mini,” but we don’t yet know what the company will call it.

The video of the event will be live-streamed on Apple’s website (you have to use Apple’s Safari browser to watch it). Read more

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Monday, Oct. 01, 2012

mobilenews

Pew: After email, getting news is the most popular activity on smartphones, tablets

The growing number of tablet owners are developing an increased appetite for news, according to a new study from Pew’s Project for Excellence in Journalism.

Tablet owners spend more time with news from more sources.

The survey measures how many smartphone and tablet owners use the devices to keep up with news, and how they consume news. One key finding is that after email, getting news is the second most popular activity on mobile devices.

Another key finding: Almost one-third of people who acquire tablets find themselves reading more news from more sources than before.

What they’re reading is also interesting. Almost three-fourths of tablet news readers consumed in-depth news articles at least sometimes, with 19 percent saying they do so daily.

A strong majority of tablet readers also said they read at least two-to-three articles in a sitting, many of which they just came across while browsing headlines.

Tablet owners read in-depth articles, and explore articles they weren’t initially seeking.
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Tuesday, Sep. 18, 2012

Twitter updates profiles, iPad app to unify experience, compete with Facebook

Twitter Blog | Today
Twitter rolled out a redesigned template for user profiles today that includes new space for a header image on each user’s profile. Similar to Facebook’s cover photos, the header image spreads the full width of the timeline and the username and traditional profile image sit on top of it.

Here’s what it looks like on the profile page of The Today Show, where Twitter CEO Dick Costolo announced the change this morning. Twitter has been partnering with NBC, including most recently on Olympics coverage.

To add an image to your profile, use the design settings page on Twitter.com or the profile settings section of any of the official Twitter mobile apps.

How to upload a new header image in the Twitter iPad app.

Twitter released a completely rebuilt iPad app today as well, which includes the new user profile design. It also adds support for expanding rich media in tweets, so photos, images or websites that a tweet links to may be previewed within the app. Read more

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Thursday, Sep. 06, 2012

Amazon to shake up mobile tech world with new Kindle devices, content deals

Bloomberg | The Verge | CNN Money
Amazon will make waves in the world of tablets, e-readers and possibly even smartphones today when it announces new devices at a 1:30 ET event. Here is what you can expect.

The Amazon devices

The star of today’s show is expected to be the Kindle Fire 2 — a refresh of the original Fire that debuted in November and lit up holiday sales. Amazon claims the Kindle Fire holds 22 percent of the U.S. tablet market, but sales have slipped recently and Amazon is looking for a fresh spark to consumer interest. Read more

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