Is there really room for another aggregator app?
Full disclosure: As part of an independent study class at the University of Missouri, I’m part of a team that is helping OneLouder promote ChannelCaster on the MU campus.
This week, the developer behind the popular TweetCaster and SportsCaster launched ChannelCaster - an aggregator app that lets you pull literally anything, from any source on the web into channels that users can personalize.
In the words of an article from Mashable, “The idea of a personalized news reader is almost a cliche at this point — AOL Editions, Zite, Flipboard and News.Me are just a few startup services with their own takes,” is there truly room for another aggregator sort of app in the mobile space?
I think this hinges on a couple of factors:
1. How the app is positioned: Notice I’ve been careful not to label ChannelCaster as a news aggregator, partly because it’s not merely a news aggregator. The makers of the app intended for it as more as an infotainment app. Channels preloaded contains feeds that range the gamut - from top news from AP, to the hilarious (albeit creepy) photo blog What Kim Jong Il Is Looking At.
Positioning the app with a entertainment slant seems like a wise move too - and data seems to suggest so. Among US smartphone users, apps in the music (97%), games (43%), entertainment (42%) categories are generally among the most downloaded, according to a May 2011 figures of the types of mobile apps ever downloaded. Social networking (29%), sports (26%) and news (23%) apps rank significantly lower.
While apps like Flipboard and Pulse seem to be focused more on newsworthy feeds, and a reading experience that’s requires more time, ChannelCaster seems to be quite the opposite. The app developers hope that by moving away from the more newsy stuff to the more quirky, users will find it more entertaining and use the app with greater frequency.
2. How the app fulfills a perceived need: One of the biggest complaints about Twitter is the lack of an interface that allows tweets to be sorted by channels. ChannelCaster solves that problem. Users can build their own channels based on keyword searches or specify exactly which twitter accounts to follow, effectively creating a personalized Twitter channel. Of course, the channel doesn’t need to only comprise of Twitter feeds. Again, the app is built to allow users to pull in content from specific websites or flickr accounts into the channels too.
I do think that ChannelCaster has great potential to become pretty successful. That said, I also think that the app is not perfect. It’s user interface is still rather complicated and there is a lack of finesse in the presentation of its channels.
Give the app a shot - it’s available on the Adroid market already - and let me know wha t you think.