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April 20 2012

15:49

Global insights into the mobile media revolution at ISOJ

The second session at International Symposium on Online Journalism focused on the impact of mobile and tablet.

A common theme was the need to tailor content for different mobile platforms to account for different audience needs and behaviours.

Pedro Doria, digital platforms editor, O Globo newspaper, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, started off by explaining how the company developed the iPad edition of the newspaper.

The iPad edition was based on understanding that readership on a tablet works differently from a news website, with reading mostly in the evening.

The iPad edition bundles news in brief, strong image, three or four long-form stories, some shorter articles and then cultural tidbits, and goes live at 6 p.m.

Before the iPad edition was launched in February, people would spend on average 26 minutes on the app.  After the revised evening edition was released, the average time went up to a hour and 17 minutes.

Impact of mobiles in Africa

Next up was Harry Dugmore, professor at Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa. He spoke about how the massive uptake of mobiles Africa had led some to hope the technology would help democracy flourish.

But, said Dugmore, we were wrong.

The technological environment in Africa has evolved, starting off with mobiles with small screens, slow speeds and sky-high subscriptions. This was still the situation in many places, with only one of every 100 phones in Africa being an iPhone.

The result was a focus on SMS services to keep people inform and in touch.

Mobile technology is moving towards better speeds, more competition and more powerful phones, said Dugmore. But costs are still high and net access can be intermittent.

Now, tablets and smartphones are starting to appear but are in a minority.

Some of the biggest changes, said Dugmore, have been the provision of free access to Facebook and Wikipedia on mobiles.  Facebook zero means anyone can access Facebook on a mobile, even if they don’t have any credit.

Twitter, too, Dugmore added, was emerging as a source for news, with two-thirds of Kenyans saying they get international news from Twitter.

CNN’s approach

Next up Louis Gump, vice president of CNN Mobile talked about the the mobile web as the hub of his unit’s business, with a portfolio of apps for iPhone, iPad, Android, Windows and more.

CNN Mobile reached 19.5 million users in the US in February, with over 17 million apps downloaded across platforms worldwide. This compares to around 100 million people that CNN reaches overall on digital.

Gump said CNN made a decision to take some time to think about its iPad app and see what resonates with consumers.

He concluded by highlighting imperatives for success: having a first-rate mobile website, a range of core apps, employing mobile professionals and understanding that mobile is different.

Mobile in the Philippines

A different perspective came from JV Rufino, head of Inquirer Mobile and Books, Inquirer Group, Manila, Philippines.

He comes from one of the largest media groups in the Philippines.

Rufino explained that the Philippines was largely a TV market, but that most people have several mobiles.

One of the ways The Inquirer uses mobile is by sending ad-supported news headlines by SMS, but it also has a premium news alert SMS service.

Its mobile apps are also sponsored but have to work on older Nokia smartphones too, Rufino explained.

As with other media organisations, The Inquirer has developed a range of tablet apps as premium products.

Rufino explained how the company has collated its news articles as ebooks, including aggregating romance columns and producing court transcripts.

 

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