As more newspapers get on the paid-content bandwagon, there are a few promising models popping up. Here’s what to learn from them.
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.
The newest iPad magazine-like reader has just gone live in the App Store. It’s pretty slick. I particularly like how the main page pulls in both your own personal calendar information and tells you whose birthday it is — and let’s you post a message to their wall right from within the app.
And you can set the time that it gets built every morning, so the content is fresh for you to read first thing when you wake up. Very nice.
Note: Yes, I technically work for AOL. But hopefully you know that I wouldn’t shill one of their products unless I actually thought it was good. Plus, it’s free.
It was a ridiculous project, more so than our previous experiments in this vein. We were aiming for 68 pages of magazine, a new Longshot Radio section, and a website with the same copy as the print edition. Beyond that, we wanted an interesting model for a nagwall that would allow you to circumvent it easily by paying $1, $5, or $20 or sharing the story that you’re reading. We were building it all from nothing in one weekend.
Rupert Murdoch’s empire, in graphical form: Tumblr’s new multi-photo layout feature seems really freaking cool to us. So we had this idea for seeing how we’d use it to present news. Our subject? Rupert Murdoch and News Corp. — mainly, to emphasize the scope of the dude’s empire. We created this in about an hour using InDesign. Enjoy! (Some sources we used: Mogulite, L.A. Times, The Guardian, The National Post, News Corp.)
Check out Murdoch senior’s wife taking a swat at the pie-thrower.
CNN’s new video player sleek but not social
CNN just launched a new video player today which definitely looks more refined and user friendly. Clips are sorted by topics, instead of sections, with the most important topics on the top followed by trending topics. There’s also a tab where you can view the clips by shows.
I love it that you can watch shows in full cinematic view, but also minimize the player while the clip is still playing and browse other clips.
So while it’s definitely a much nicer interface, it does seem more of a cosmetic upgrade than anything. Perhaps the only thing really disruptive is the ability to watch live TV online and on various mobile devices. There’s a caveat though. As LostRemote puts it:
Before watching, users have to confirm they’re subscribers of a participating cable, IPTV or satellite service. Powered by the TV Anywhere initiative, CNN is working with Comcast (Xfinity), Cox, Dish, Verizon, AT&T and SuddenLink — but not Time Warner Cable, Cablevision and DirecTV, to name a few. CNN is the first TV news organization to stream its air live 24 hours a day.
“The 10 million users who have downloaded CNN’s mobile apps and the tens of millions of people who get the latest news and information from CNN.com every day will soon be able to watch CNN TV on every device they have,” said KC Estenson, general manager of CNN Digital.
I’m not sure who would want to watch live TV 24-hours online or on their mobile devices. I thought what they were doing already - going live and providing raw footage during major announcements or breaking news was pretty sufficient. Am wondering then also if they’ll make live announcements and breaking news public to everyone, and more importantly, internationally.
Then again, when Ted Turner started CNN as a 24-hour news cable channel, many asked who wanted to watch news 24 hours - and he has since proven his skeptics wrong.
As it is, the CNN player is just a player. There’s nothing more interactive to it. Unlike NBC’s which has a scrolling transcript that I majorly appreciate.
There is no social media integration; no funky way to instantly tweet a quote from a line Anderson Cooper said on live TV or his clips; no multiple camera views; no iReport interactivity. Lil disappointing I must say.
What does your dream news video player look like? What would you like it to do?
They (Google) gave us a presentation on how Google’s going to be rethinking the news.
From The Economist:
On Tuesday, July 12th Tom Standage, Digital Editor at The Economist and the author of a special report on the news industry will be answering your questions on Twitter. Starting at 4pm in London and 11am in New York, the discussion will appear on Twitter via @econdiscuss. Just remember to add the hashtag #askeconomist to make sure your question reaches The Economist.