News for Digital Journalists

Posts tagged with: Mobile

March 01, 2010

Pew: How cell phones, internet have turned news into a social experience

In the last few years, the social aspects of news have shifted from the sidelines to center stage, thanks to the evolution of internet and mobile technology. A new report from the Pew Research Center’s Project on Excellence in Journalism explains how this works. See: How internet and cell phone users have turned news into a social experience

A few highlights…

  • Popularity: “The internet has surpassed newspapers and radio in popularity as a news platform on a typical day and now ranks just behind TV.”
  • Portability: “33% of cell phone owners now access news on their cell phones.”
  • Personalization: “28% of internet users have customized their home page to include news from sources and on topics that particularly interest them.”
  • Participation: “37% of internet users have contributed to the creation of news, commented about it, or disseminated it via postings on social media sites like Facebook or Twitter. ...More than 8 in 10 online news consumers get or share links in e-mails.”
  • Socializing: “Getting news is often an important social act. Some 72% of American news consumers say they follow the news because they enjoy talking with others about what is happening in the world and 69% say keeping up with the news is a social or civic obligation. And 50% of American news consumers say they rely to some degree on people around them to tell them the news they need to know.”

The mobile aspects are especially interesting. About 80% of American adults have cell phones, 37% of them use their phones to acces the net. Just over one quarter of all Americans (33% of US cell phone owners) get at least some news via cell phone today. Here’s the kind of mobile news they get:

  • Weather: 26%
  • News and current events: 25%
  • Applications for news content: 18%
  • Sports scores and stories: 16%
  • Traffic: 13%
  • Financial: 12%
  • News via e-mail and text messaging: 11%

The complete report is available online.

March 09, 2010

Apps for Inclusion: New Knight contest to build the digital public square

On Tuesday the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation announced a new contest to develop online and mobile applications that will help people improve their lives through better access to government/community info and services.

The Apps for Inclusion Challenge “encourages technology innovators to review government and community services and develop tools that will improve lives by making it easier for citizens to receive these services through mobile and online applications.”

This announcement came during an event co-hosted by the Knight Foundation in which the FCC previewed its forthcoming National Broadband Plan. The FCC will be “in partnership” with the Knight Foundation on Apps for Inclusion.

Contest entry criteria and deadlines have not yet been announced. However, the Knight Foundation will commit a total of $100,000 in prize money. A panel of experts will review applications and pick winners. The public will have a vote through several “people’s choice awards.”

Stay tuned for further details.

April 20, 2010

Pew Report: Teens and Mobile Phones

To build tomorrow’s news audience, news providers must engage today’s youth. It’s obvious that cell phones are the media tool of choice for most teens—and they’re especially fond of text messaging.

New research from the Pew Internet and American Life Project indicates just how rampant teen texting has grown. Beyond texting, cell phones also have become an important tool to help low-income teens bridge the digital divide. In fact, much of how teens use cell phones is dictated by economics…

According to the Teens and Mobile Phones report, 75% of 12-17 year-olds now own cell phones (up from 45% in 2004). 72% of all teens (88% of teen cell users) use text-messaging. Contrast this to 2006, when just 51% of teens were texters in 2006. Also, more than half of teens (54%) send or receive text messages daily.

Half of teens send 50 or more text messages a day. However, 22% of teens text just 1-10 times daily. Boys typically send/receive 30 texts per day; girls, 80.

The wealthier a teen’s family is (especially above $50,000 annual income), the more likely their phone will be on a family plan. Three-quarters of teen cell users have unlimited texting plans, and these teens typically send and receive 70 texts daily.

Teens from lower-income families are more likely to have prepaid plans or their own cell contract—often with limits on text messages and voice minutes. Teens on limted texting plans typically send/receive 10 texts a day, and teens who pay per message typically send/receive 5 texts per day.

Cell phones help bridge the digital divide by providing internet access to lower-income teens. From families earning $30,000 or less per year, 41% of teens report that they use their phone to go online. Nearly a third of these teens have no computer at home. 44% of black teens and 35% of Hispanic teens go online via cell phones to go online, versus only 21% of white teens.

Teens who pay the full cost of their cell phones on their own tend to be older and poorer—but they also tend to do more with their phones. In particular, they’re more likely to use their phone to go online (39%) than teens whose phones are covered by a family plan (26%). According to the report, this “suggests that as they grow more independent, teens use their resources to expand their use of the cell phone.”

However, some teens, say it’s too expensive to go online from their cell phone. Others report dissatisfaction with the mobile web interface, lor frustration with slow-loading pages.

More than half of text-using teens have gotten spam or other unwanted texts—but mostly these are not commercial advertisements, but harassment or pranks from other individuals. Teens detest unwanted texts so severely that they sometimes react by turning off their phones for hours at a time. According to the report, “This is noteworthy, considering turning the phone off is otherwise unthinkable for many teens”—a point worth considering for any opt-in SMS service aimed at teens that includes paid advertisements.

April 27, 2010

Mobile social networking: It’s big, it’s business, and it may not be what you expect

If your news org is trying to catch up with mobile media (and you should, there’s not much time), then consider social media as a crucial part of your mobile strategy. A new study from Ground Truth (a mobile measurement firm) claims that when people use the mobile web, more than half their time there is spent on social networking sites. And surprisingly, Facebook is not the most engaging mobile social networking site…

In a press release, Ground Truth VP Evan Neufeld said, “Facebook and MySpace may be the most addictive pastimes on the PC, but sites like MocoSpace and AirG command more attention on mobile phones. For example, each MocoSpace user spent in excess of an hour more on the site than did the average Facebook visitor during the week. This data points to the fact that there is a whole universe of media properties advertisers need to consider that have to date been largely ignored. It also demonstrates that traditional media companies that are not focused on the Mobile Internet (both browser- and application-based usage) risk losing market share to leaner, more mobile focused companies.”

...If you haven’t heard of MocoSpace and AirG, and if you’re wondering why Ground Truth’s report doesn’t mention Twitter, it helps to understand that the mobile metrics service Ground Truth sells (which is the basis of the numbers in this report) only measures traffic to sites accessed via a mobile web browser. It does not measure social networking conducted via mobile apps, and it does not measure activities that don’t require a mobile web browser (such as text/photo messaging or e-mail). Therefore, this study does not address how people use their cell phones overall—just how they spend the portion of their mobile time they spend using a web browser.

MocoSpace and AirG are popular mobile services that delivers chat, link/media sharing, and more via mobile web browsers. These services have millions of users worldwide because they work well on lower-end “feature phones”—not just higher-end, costlier smartphones with unlimited data plans. Since these services have been totally focused on the broadest possible mobile market from the beginning, often people who mainly access the web via computer (or who rely mainly on smartphones) haven’t heard of them. But they are big—and worth a look when forming your mobile strategy.

My guess is that Twitter wasn’t mentioned in this report, even though it’s very mobile-friendly (that 140-character limit exists so tweets work via text messaging) because most active Twitter users don’t post or read tweets via the Twitter web site. Third-party Twitter applications (web or mobile) are much easier to use. So don’t read this study and assume that Twitter is not a key mobile social media service. It is—but just not one that Ground Truth can measure well.

June 15, 2010

NYT/Pulse iPad app flap: Legal, branding, technical controversy

Last week a controversy erupted between Apple Computer and the New York Times over a slick, popular iPad newsreader app. Pulse is a nice-looking, easy-to-use RSS feed reader on steroids, and it sells for $3.99. And it was one of the top-selling iPad apps.

...When it was available, that is. NY Times lawyers complained to Apple that Pulse violated their copyright. On June 8, as Kara Swisher of All Things D reported, Apple removed Pulse from the App Store for a few hours. The app was reinstated quickly—but as of today Pulse is no longer available in the App Store. It’s unknown when Pulse was most recently yanked from the App Store, or whether the removal is permanent this time.

This flap highlights the need for news organizations and other content publishers to understand RSS feeds: What it means to make your content available via RSS, and the pros/cons of restricting RSS syndication or access…

In the past week, lawyers, app developers, and journalists have been discussing whether the Pulse controversy means the New York Times has declared war on feed readers. The Citizen Media Law Project voiced skepticism on that front.

The June 13 episode of the This Week In Law podcast features a great roundup of views on the copyright and other legal aspects involved. It’s must-listen material for anyone in the news or publishing business who wants to understand the opportunities, pitfalls, and tradeoffs of RSS syndication.

July 06, 2010

News (and Newsrooms) in the Networking Age

If you’re trying to wrap your head around the transformation of the media industry, a good place to start might be the idea of “perestroika”—the old Soviet term that described the dramatic restructuring of its most mature institutions. That, in fact, is the theme for an industry gathering in Philadelphia later this month that explores the transformation of computing, communications, business, and society in the Network Age, while asking the question: After everything is connected, “what’s next?”

The July 29-30 Supernova forum, co-hosted by the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, is produced by Kevin Werbach, a former FCC technology official and organizer of the PC Forum with Esther Dyson. Technologists, entrepreneurs, business executives, investors, and policymakers will come together to discuss three overarching themes.—evolving digital infrastructure and platforms, models for networked business innovation, and transforming or replacing established institutions.

Tech policy forum participants include White House official Beth Noveck, Comcast Executive Vice President David Cohen, Google’s Washington counsel Richard Whitt and BuzzMachine’s Jeff Jarvis. And other participants will also lead discussion at afternoon unconferences and “challenge sessions.”

Check out the agenda and register here.

If, on the other hand, you’re just trying to figure out the restructuring of your own newsroom, the gathering for you might be the International Newsroom Summit in London, Sept. 8-9.

Speakers and attendees include many European newspaper publishers, but Editor & Publisher reports The New York Time’s Arthur Sulzberger Jr., will be on the program, along with top Washington Post newsroom exec Raju Narisetti.

The key question: what does the new generation newsroom look like, and how does it operate? Discussions are around topics like newsroom synergies, smartphone publishing, innovative storytelling and paid content.  Register here.

July 07, 2010

Mobile internet access is now mainstream, Pew research shows

Here’s further proof why news organizations need a robust mobile strategy now: According to research published today by the Pew Internet and American Life Project (Mobile Access 2010) in the past year 40% of US cell phone users accessed the internet from their phones—and more than half of them do so daily. This is a sharp jump: last year, only 25% of cell users reported mobile internet access.

Speaking of strategic considerations, where will your future audience be? A strong majority (65%) of cell users aged 18-29 reported using their phones for internet access. Not far behind, 40% of cell users aged 30-49 also are going online from their phones…

African Americans and Latinos continue to lead the charge on US mobile internet use, says Pew: “Cell phone ownership is higher among African-Americans and Latinos than among whites (87% vs. 80%) and minority cell phone owners take advantage of a much greater range of their phones’ features… In total, 64% of African-Americans access the internet from a laptop or mobile phone, up from the 57% who did so at a similar point in 2009.”

Another point with clear implications for how cell phones can bridge the mobile digital divide: This year, 46% of cell users earning $30,000 or less per year reported accessing the internet from their phones—up from 35% last year. Also, 20% of cell users report that their phone is their sole internet access tool. People with lower incomes tend not to buy fancy smartphones with costly data plans; they tend to use inexpensive feature phones with simple web browsers and limited/no ability to run apps. This is why lean mobile strategies (such as WAP sites, which I discussed yesterday) should be an important part of any news organization’s online strategy.

Besides the mobile web, other internet-based functions are also becoming commonplace among cell phone users: 34% reported using e-mail from their phones this year (up from 25% last year), and 30% reported using mobile instant messaging (from 20% last year). These features, plus podcasting or streaming audio/video, call-in audio, and text/multimedia messaging also can be important parts of a robust mobile news strategy.

July 13, 2010

NAA: Youth Migrating to Smartphones, Newspapers Should Be There

In the news business, it’s important to know not just where your market is, but where it’s going—and to make sure you’re ready to serve your communities and advertisers at future preferred news destinations.

This means that newspapers should fast-track and hone their smartphone strategies now, according to a recent survey by the Newspaper Association of America Foundation and the New Media Innovation Lab at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University .

They surveyed 1500 US Americans aged 16-20. Some findings from this research…

Many youth are willing to pay a lot for smartphones. More than 60% bought their smartphones themselves, and 58% pay the monthly bill themselves. This is a significant expenditure: According to the report, carrier-subsidized smartphones cost an average of $300 up front.

News apps are not especially popular with young smartphone users. Less than 18% of respondents reported that general news apps were among their five favorite types of smartphone apps. This demographic is more likely to visit a web site focused on news than use a news app—28% reported that news sites are among their five favorite places to get information.

Social media is an important source of mobile news. Over 47% of smartphone users aged 16-20 reported that social media apps are among their favorite apps, and 40% said that social media sites are among their favorite mobile web sites. Many also reported getting via social media various kinds of information that could include news: about their school (35%), town/city (32%), current US/world events (32%), and the economy (21%). Which suggest that social media should be a strong part of any news organization’s mobile strategy.

Young women seem to especially like mobile news. “59% of males and 69% of females had browsed or visited a newspaper web site in the previous 30 days. Asked what device they used, 49% of females said they had used only their smartphones, compared to 27% of males.”

While smartphones are getting considerable media attention, they are far from the biggest part of the mobile media market. The vast majority of mobile phones (about 80% by most statistics) currently in use in the US are not smartphones—so the mobile news potential of feature phones was ignored by this research. The report did note that according to comScore MobiLens, Americans aged 18-24 currently lag behind older users in smartphone adoption.

Furthermore, this report did not specify how the researchers defined what a smartphone is. The line between smart and feature phones is blurring. These days, many inexpensive phones physically resemble smartphones more—with touchscreens, wifi, and sometimes the ability to run simple apps. But their capabilities for sophisticated apps and web browsing often fall far short of true smartphones.

This kind of research can be helpful, but it’s crucial to know the kinds of devices used by most mobile users in your community in order to craft an effective mobile strategy.

September 10, 2010

Upcoming events: Community news in Chicago, media law in Atlanta and Web 2.0 in New York

Three notable events come up later this month - from an intimate get-together for community news publishers to the crowds in the sprawling halls of Web 2.0 Expo, with a meeting of media legal minds in between.

(HT to Webb Media Group)

September 15, 2010

Pew survey: Digital, traditional platforms combine to increase overall news consumption

Good news for news—Americans are spending more time with it than they have since the mid-1990s, and new technologies are not so much replacing traditional news platforms as supplementing them.

That’s per a newly released biennial news consumption survey from the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. The survey found while Americans are consuming more news digitally, they’re integrating the new sources into their regular diet, leaving news consumption from traditional platforms stable.

For instance, in 2000 those surveyed spent 57 minutes a day on average getting news from TV, radio or newspapers. Now, they’re spending 70 minutes—and that doesn’t even count time spent getting news on cell phones or other digital devices.

Traditional sources remain the sole source of news for 39% of those surveyed, but nearly as many, 36%  got their news from both online and traditional sources. About 9% got their news via online and mobile and didn’t use traditional sources at all.

The group that showed the largest rise in time spent with the news in the last few years are the highly educated (up to 96 minutes). The survey noted a smaller rise in consumption for those ages 30-64, while older and younger age groups showed no increase. The 30-somethings were the only group to get the majority of their news digitally.

Among the other major findings of the extensive report:

  • Print newspaper decline is only partially offset by online readership. Even counting all online newspaper readership (although not news aggregators or search engines), 37% of Americans report getting news from newspapers the day before, down from 43% in 2006.
  • Cable news audiences are in flux, with the proportions watching CNN, MSNBC and CNBC slipping substantially from two years ago.
  • Ideology continues to be closely associated with people’s choice of certain news sources, and partisan gaps in media credibility continue to grow.
  • Half of men get news on digital platforms, compared to just 39% of women.
  • The percentage of so-called news grazers—those who get news only “from time to time”—jumped from 48% to 57% since 2006.
  • Search engines are increasingly key. A third use them regularly to get news, up from 19% just two years ago.

Read the full report here (PDF).

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