BBC iPhone apps: Auntie finally gets the go-ahead

As news app makes its debut
Written by William Shenton, Contributor

As news app makes its debut

The body which oversees the BBC has finally given its approval for the broadcaster to launch new mobile apps.

The BBC unveiled three new mobile apps at the Mobile World Congress trade show in February, which were originally slated for released this spring.

However, their launch was put on hold following protests from newspaper publishers, who thought that proposals to launch dedicated BBC news and sport smartphone applications, as well as a mobile version of the Beeb's catch-up service iPlayer, would have an adverse impact on commercial media organisations.

Following a review of the plans by the watchdog the BBC Trust, the apps will now go ahead.

In an announcement last week, the BBC Trust concluded that there is no need for further scrutiny through a public value test (PVT) - the process whereby new services, or changes to existing services, are examined to see how they will affect the market - which would have delayed the apps' launch still further.

The Trust found that the impact on the apps market would be small, given its already crowded nature and the fact that the BBC's apps are only providing access to content already available through a mobile browser.

BBC Trustee Diane Coyle, who led the review, said in a statement: "The apps market is rapidly taking off as more people choose to get their news, sport and other online content while they're on the move. The Trust has a duty to represent the interests of licence fee payers, who will increasingly expect to access BBC content in this way, but also to listen to concerns raised by industry. In this case we have concluded that while the apps market is developing quickly and we will monitor the launch of BBC apps, a PVT is not required."

The bbc news iphone app

The BBC News iPhone app, which launched on Friday
(Screenshot: BBC)

BBC News, launched last week, is the first of the approved apps to be launched.

Its features include customisable options for picking news categories stories, embedded video clips and social features for sharing stories via email, Facebook or Twitter. Available initially for Apple's iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad, the BBC News app will be coming to other platforms some time this year.

The BBC is expected to follow the launch of the BBC News app with the release of the other mobile applications showcased earlier this year, BBC Sport and iPlayer. The broadcaster, however, could not confirm when such apps might launch.

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