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Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Fairfax will launch iPhone apps for news "within six months" reports the Pacific Area Newspaper Publishers' Association. PANPA has published a video transcript of an interview with Darren Burden (pic), Director of News and Platforms at Fairfax Digital. Burden says:

The key benefits of applications over a mobile site is that [with] an application you can use the native part of the phone, and you can get into things like address books and things like that if you use apps. And you can also really control the look and feel, whereas if you're building an optimised iPhone site you're sort of dictated [to] by the browser.

Marc Frons, New York Times CTO of Digital Operations, says there is no silver bullet to reverse the slide in advertising revenues among media companies.

There have to be many, smaller silver bullets. I do think the iPad will be a very important device in the portable reader category. I think it has the potential to redefine that category and help build it. I wouldn't sell Apple's marketing muscle or ability to create an ecosystem short. They do an excellent job as they've proven with the iPhone.

I would expect the iPad to have a similar trajectory. I think it would be one more thing. I think it'll be the iPad, it might be the Kindle, it might be the Plastic Logic device, it might be the Sony e-reader, or the Barnes and Noble e-reader, [even] e-readers that haven't been created yet.

Durden points out that one advantage an iPhone app has over a masthead website such as BrisbaneTimes.com.au is that it may attract readers who don't read their news through a browser.

Fairfax is looking at different ways of paying for the news app, including a one-off payment for the app, a subscription type service, and a software upgrade.

Frons says that The New York Times is looking at the unique properties of the iPad, in terms of delivering news. "You can imagine all sorts of applications that we haven't even build yet in addition to the ones we have.

Our goal is to have full functionality on all of these devices, to have the level of portability and personalisation that you have in a newspaper. To me, the beauty of the iPad and devices like it that [haven't] yet been born, is that they really speak to the needs of doing what a newspaper does so well now.

[It's] portable, inexpensive, convenient, highly personal with all the advantages of the web, you know [like it's] instantaneous, great updating facility, ability to play video, ability to share [and] communicate.

That's a really unbeatable combination. It just has to be cheap enough and fast enough and portable enough to really take off. I don't think we're that far away.

PANPA says that Fairfax has looked at demonstration software for how their apps appear on the iPad. Durden thinks iPhone apps are "fantastic" because people are comfortable using their phone to browse for information.

Frons will join other global media-tech experts at the Media 2010 conference - which is presented by Fairfax Digital - in Pyrmont on 19 February.

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