As Apple and News Corp. start wooing subscribers for their iPad newspaper, The Daily, The New York Times is perfecting its latest digital news product: News.me, a social news iPad app.
Pulling data from Twitter and Bit.ly, News.me (which is still in beta) is based on a users’ frequented news sites and friends’ Twitter streams, and uses sophisticated filtering techniques to track the number of times stories are checked and shared so the parcel of info delivered reflects the most popular news on the internet – a true social news app.
In contrast, The Daily is producing original reporting and videos with a staff of 100 journalists. Both will charge for the service, while News.me will be licensing articles from other news organizations and The Daily can pull in the best of the News Corp. network.
News.me has additional premium content from the New York Times and an Instapaper feature for sharing and saving news via Facebook, Twitter, and email.
The app was developed in partnership with Betaworks, which also worked with TweetDeck, the URL shortener Bit.ly and Chartbeat, a real-time Web analytics service. “We’re building something wonderful and amazing in the social news space,” commented Betaworks CEO John Borthwick.
Michael Zimbalist, NYT's VP research and development, added, “We’re abstracting from that a vision of how social sharing and the real-time Web are going to influence the news consumption experience.”
“It looks like it might revolutionize how iPad users read their news in the future,” writes Ubergizmo.
Erick Schonfeld described the user experience in TechCrunch:
“When you first launch News.me, you see the welcome screen…with a few tutorial hints: Tap on the people along the top dock to see what stories are appearing in their Twitter streams, tap on a story headline or excerpt to read it full screen, or you can stretch a story open inside the stream with a reverse-pinch. This reverse-pinch is one of my favorite parts of the experience. You flick to scroll through the stream, and when you find something you like, you can open it up and read it without loading a new page.”
The New York Times Co. also recently invested $4 million in Ongo, a subscription aggregator billed as "Hulu for news." NYT's SVP of digital Martin Nisenholtz addressed that investment in light of the NYT's pending paywall launch on today's earnings call.
According to PaidContent:
Nisenholtz noted that Ongo only has access to 20 NYT stories a day. “Obviously, if you’re a Times loyalist, a regular Times user, you would come straight to the NYTimes.com and once the metered paywall is in place, pay us for use of the Times on an unlimited basis,” he said. “The positioning for Ongo is the ‘best of the best.’ It’s just started, so the number of brands is somewhat limited, but you can already choose content from us, as well as Gannett, The Post, the AP, FT and others. It’s a Hulu of news in some ways. Other packages of content will likely be upsold as well.”
In other digital activity during the quarter, (CEO Janet) Robinson noted at the beginning of the call that the NYT’s iPhone news app has been downloaded 6 million times since ‘08 debut, with more than 2.5 million last year. When the NYTimes.com’s paywall comes down, the amount of content on that device and the iPad app will be limited to those who don’t agree to the fee.
Things are heating up in the space of digital journalism as two behemoths joust for consumer market share with decidedly different models.