Tablet News Reader Space Heats Up
Paula J. Hane
Posted On December 1, 2011
People who like to read news on their iPads or other tablets have plenty to choose from lately. All the big players and a number of upstarts are diving into the aggregated news reader space. The Apple Newsstand launched in mid-October, Yahoo! announced its Livestand earlier this year that it just launched in early November, and Google is reportedly ready to unveil an HTML5-based news reader app, code named either Propeller or Current.
The Apple Newsstand, which launched Oct. 12 for the iPad and iPhone (coinciding with the launch of Apple’s new iOS5), offers publishers a dedicated content store. Titles are now collected in one place, enabling convenience and ease of discovery by users. According to media reports, titles such as National Geographic, The New York Times, and Popular Science reported big spikes in sales after the launch.
Jeff Sonderman, writing at Poynter.org, notes that Newsstand succeeds because of its use of “shelves.” He writes, “When given a shelf, a human will fill it. Newsstand exploits this instinct.” Millions of people who got new devices or upgraded their old ones saw empty shelves and a Store button and immediately downloaded apps and bought subscriptions to fill their shelves. He says, “That’s a nice trick by Apple, which understands product design and user experience better than anyone else…But a rising tide lifts all boats, and in this case Apple’s Newsstand has given a high tide to publishers. Now they must take advantage of it.”
Livestand from Yahoo!
Livestand from Yahoo! is billed as “a personalized living magazine.” It was designed specifically and is available first for the iPad and available to download free from the App Store in the U.S. Livestand weaves together content from more than 100 publications, including ABC News, Forbes, Yahoo! News, Yahoo! Sports, Yahoo! Finance and omg!— with more being added every week. Other third-party publishers on the Livestand roster include Consumer Reports, Gawker, GigaOM, and Mashable. Reports indicate that the news sources are limited to those Yahoo! curates; there’s no way to add your own feeds or links.
Yahoo! reports that the more you use Livestand, the more personalized it becomes. It is easily tailored to your own interests, wrapping content in a visually rich design that features videos, photos, and intuitive navigation.
A reviewer on AppAdvice who admits he has never been a fan of Yahoo!, writes, “In a word, everything about this interactive magazine is slick. The graphics are crisp, the animations are subtle and eye-catching, and the content provided is vast.
Livestand will expand to additional platforms and international markets throughout 2012. For more information about Livestand from Yahoo!, visit http://livestand.com and the company blog, Yodel Anecdotal, at http://yodel.yahoo.com. You can also follow Livestand updates and news on Twitter (@Yahoolivestand) and on Facebook.
Industry analyst Ken Doctor, writing at Newsonomics, reports, “As a tablet news aggregation product from the No. 2 U.S. web property, [Livestand] demands to be taken seriously. In addition, we’ve got to place it into some kind of context among Flipboard, Pulse, Ongo, Editions, and coming Google products, as well as the dominant single-brand news sites that have enjoyed fledgling tablet success. With the launch of Livestand, we see the beginning of Aggregator Wars 2.0, to be fought on a tablet near you. Livestand pushes the question: How are we going to receive news and features via the tablet, through individual apps (paid or free) or through an aggregator?”
A number of analysts and bloggers have pointed out that Yahoo!s Livestand resembles Flipboard. But Flipboard, which calls itself “your social magazine,” lets users add their own content sources. Google reportedly tried to buy Flipboard last year and when its offer was declined, said it would build its own app.
Flipboard is just one of the apps currently changing the behavior of media consumers. Others include the following:
- AOL’s Editions, which launched in August 2011 in the iTunes store for the iPad. AOL calls it “a beautiful, new daily magazine that learns what you like, and what you don’t.” At launch, PC Magazine said it displayed “navigation and stability issues.”
- Zite, which was bought by Time Warner’s CNN, is a free personalized iPad magazine that pulls content from a user’s social network. Its latest release, Sybil, allows for multiple profiles that adapt to the preferences of the reader—helpful for an iPad shared within a family.
- Pulse, is a news reading application for iPhone, iPad, and Android devices. Pulse users can choose up to 60 news sources in an easy to read, customizable interface. Pulse has content partnerships with many popular sources, including The Atlantic, CNET, Discover Magazine, Gawker, The Huffington Post, The New Yorker, Salon.com, TIME, The Wall Street Journal Digital Network, and more.
For an interesting comparison of many of these aggregators, see the helpful table prepared by the folks at PaidContent: http://paidcontent.org/table/comparing-the-new-aggregators-november-2011.