Everyone's Making News Apps But No One Knows The Right Way To Read Them

Traders newspaperREUTERSTraders read a newspaper story about the 513 point loss yesterday at the New York Stock Exchange on September 1, 1998

The news business is booming right now, at least online. Critics consider web journalism to be a thriving business but this recent trend could be responsible for the influx of news apps flooding the market.

Everyone seems to be trying to build their own program and revolutionise the way we read news on our phones or tablets. Re/code’s Peter Kafka wrote that former Hulu CEO Jason Kilar is pitching a mysterious project to newspapers and magazines while Facebook is debuting a new app called Paper on Monday.

While this could make most people believe there’s hope for this struggling industry, most of these apps are going to fail.

Here’s why.

They Need To Figure Out A Way To Make Money

Nick D'AloisioREUTERS/Suzanne PlunkettNick D’Aloisio became a millionaire when he was 15.

Companies have invested a lot of money in news apps.

Nick D’Aloisio built Yahoo News Digest after the 17 year old sold his company to Yahoo for $US33 million.

Circa, the social news app co-founded by Matt Galligan, has acquired $US3.41 million in funding according to CrunchBase.

Despite this, the apps are free to download and don’t require a subscription to read more stories. It is completely free for anyone to use.

Legacy outlets like The New York Times have built paywalls onto mobile platforms but apps like the ones mentioned above don’t have enough of a reputation to warrant charging a fee for readers to come back and view their content.

Advertising has grown increasingly important for most publications but when they are crammed into the small screen on a mobile device, it ruins the reading experience.

This brief trend will fizzle out if companies don’t recognise that news apps can be a financial black hole. A system needs to be created that benefits readers and investors.

Developers Can’t Figure Out The Best Delivery System For News

Yahoo News Digest iPhone AppiTunesYahoo News Digest tells readers the next time they’ll be able to access the next set of stories.

Two common themes can be found in the recent slate of news apps that have launched in the past month. They are are designed well but essentially tell you the stories you want to read with some level of customisation.

Apps like Inside.com allow users to create a feed following stories related to their personal interests. This is a similar function found on Flipboard, the app that lets you create digital magazines of certain topics like cars or cooking.

D’Aloisio’s app drops off a digest of 9 stories every morning and evening. Each article is from a different category of news.

Visually, these apps look great but the flaw is in the delivery. None of this content is original. The articles that you’ll read are collected from other sources.

Plus, developers build algorithms that collect data from social media profiles. Based on the information gleamed from a few outdated tweets and Facebook updates, the app thinks it has a good idea of the topics that we’re interested in. That’s hard to believe.

These Apps Need To Get More Creative Or They Will All Meet A Painful End

The marketplace is getting too crowded for applications that do the exact same thing. Most of them are going to meet a painful end if they don’t come up with a creative solution to survive.

Demand needs to be generated in order to have these apps gain popularity. Developers need to create a compelling argument for why it needs to be read. With so much information available online, it’s tough to be able sit down and read everything regardless if a story is spruced up with sleek visuals. One suggestion would be try and create a profitable mobile newsroom. This experiment would involve crafting stories that would be sent to directly to phones and tablets instead of just aggregating information that pops up across the web.

If web journalism is thriving, mobile news needs more time to develop.

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

Tagged In