News on mobile phones is growing; Newspapers get second chance

News on mobile phones is growing; Newspapers get second chance

Summary: A new study looks at the consumption of news from a mobile device, weeks after a journalism expert sounded the alarm about news outlets developing mobile strategies.

TOPICS: Hardware, Mobility

The Associated Press took an interesting approach to a report released today by the Pew Research Center about news consumption in an online world. That headline highlighted that 26 percent of adult Americans now get their news from their mobile phones, an interesting statistic. It also noted that 43 percent of "younger' cell phone owners - that under age 50 - are also reading news stories on their phones, compared to 15 percent of cell phone owners who fall in the "over-50" category.

There was a lot more to that report and CNET breaks it down nicely. For example, 59 percent of the audience get their news from both online and offline sources and 57 percent said they have between two and five favorite Web sites to visit for their news. It also found that 37 percent are engaging in the news, either by commenting or pushing headlines to their friends and associates via social sites like Facebook and Twitter.

But I found the statistic about mobile especially interesting because, just a few weeks ago. a fellow of the Reynolds Journalism Institute and an associate professor at the Missouri School of Journalism, published a blog post that sounded the alarm about the news industry's need for a mobile strategy for content delivery.

In his post, Clyde Bentley warned journalists that they have 36 months before mobile phones overtake PCs as the most common web access device worldwide - that's 1.82 billion mobile phones in 2013, compared to 1.78 billion PCs, a forecast released by Gartner in January. Bentley, challenging the news industry to put mobile on the front burner, created a timeline for rolling out a mobile strategy worthy of the new majority audience.

On a personal level, I commend Bentley for what he's doing to advance the mobile landscape for news. Some might argue that, while some news outlets (I refrain from calling them newspapers) have already launched mobile products, others have been slow to jump into the smaller screen. Newspapers have already been clobbered once by the Internet because they were slow to adopt to new formats, such as blogs. Had they moved faster, they might have been spared some of the bloodshed they've experienced in recent years. More importantly, I like to think that they could have been instrumental in actually shaping the direction of online news - as a business - had they gotten into the game earlier.

Here's their second chance. From the Bentley blog post:

As a journalist, I respond best to deadlines.  But three years? This is a killer deadline — within 35 months the whole newspaper industry needs to move its emphasis from the static Web to the mobile Web.  From 17-inch displays to 3-inch displays.  From full keyboard and mouse to one-handed navigation.  And you can’t really wait until the deal is done if you want to be a major player in technology.  If Gartner’s prediction is accurate, newspapers really have just 18-24 months to position themselves as the leading news content provider for mobile platforms...

I rather hope you look at [the timeline] and find a shortcut, but anyway you cut it we must put our mobile strategy efforts in high gear.  The alternative is to let the independent entrepreneurs, the GoogleZon mega companies and the folks with more interest in quick cash than service to society take away our business.  Again.

Well said.

Topics: Hardware, Mobility

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  • It's more than just a numbers war

    Your article makes the assumption that just because there will be more mobile devices than PCs in 2013, people will be getting most of their news from them. I'm not so sure.

    If it's just a case of scanning headlines, then maybe phones will rule. But serious reading of news articles is hard to do on small devices when you're on the run.

    I also note that you didn't give any real examples of just how newspapers should adapt to mobile devices. Thirty-six months is not a long time to come up with a totally new way of presenting news.
  • RE: News on mobile phones is growing; Newspapers get second chance

    I think it would be true to say that most newspapers -sorry, news providers- appreciate the need to modernize their medium. Mobile news is certainly the most efficient source of "on-the-go" news to replace/enhance paper. News providers really need to embrace rich media, along with quality editorial content and user input/customization.

    The real movers and shakers have done this already utilizing mobile and iPhone apps (ie: BBC, CNN, NYTimes, USAToday, Globe&Mail, etc.) however, on a smaller "local" level, news providers need to create quality/media rich local content - while still providing a portal to national/international news.

    Making your local site (be it .com,.ca or .mobi) the starting point for the users day - is key to providing news consumers with the full media content they crave, while also providing the options for display/content customization.
  • RE: News on mobile phones is growing; Newspapers get second chance

    news on mobile phones is the best site for the new of mobile phones.all the latest news of mobile phone are available in that site so that this site is very very strong for the mobile news
  • RE: News on mobile phones is growing; Newspapers get second chance

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