As one of the first news outlets to bring user-generated content to mobile phones, Digital Journal is extending its presence to smartphones in partnership with Polar Mobile. Today, Digital Journal announces apps for almost every smartphone on the market.
Digital Journal has partnered with Polar Mobile to release free news apps for the Apple iPhone and iPod Touch as well as BlackBerry, Android and Windows Phone devices. Available for free at app.digitaljournal.com, the apps enable smartphone users to read news from Digital Journalists working in 175 countries around the world.
Readers can follow breaking news via Digital Journal’s smartphone app and share articles via Facebook, Twitter and email from within the apps.
“We’re very excited about bringing user-generated content to virtually all smartphone platforms at once,” said Chris Hogg, CEO of Digital Journal Inc. “Mobile platforms are shaping the future of media, and we’re happy to partner with Polar Mobile to bring our engaging news network into the palm of your hand.”
The Digital Journal news apps feature articles, blogs and images from professional and citizen journalists, bloggers, photographers and reporters around the world.
“Every brand needs a mobile strategy, and we are pleased Digital Journal has chosen to work with Polar’s Platform to grow their reach on mobile and drive new revenue,” said Kunal Gupta, Chief Executive Officer, Polar Mobile.
“The launch of Digital Journal’s new smartphone apps complement our highly interactive mobile site at m.digitaljournal.com,” said Hogg. “Our smartphone app gives mobile news readers a clean and simple interface to read news, while our mobile website offers them the chance to take part and engage in the news-gathering process.”
According to Morgan Stanley Research, the smartphone market will grow to 1 billion units by 2013. Gartner research reported worldwide mobile phone sales totalled 417 million units in the third quarter of 2010, a 35 percent increase over the same period the year before. The application marketplace is also expected to see booming growth, as the global market for mobile app downloads is expected to climb to 21 billion downloads by 2013, a Polar Mobile report indicates.
Download the app on your phone by searching for “Digital Journal” in your device’s app store or marketplace. You can also visit app.digitaljournal.com to download the free Digital Journal news app!
DigitalJournal.com is a global digital media network that attracts millions of readers. Headquartered in Toronto, Canada, DigitalJournal.com covers breaking news from around the world and is a recognized leader in social news with tens of thousands of members in 175 countries around the world. DigitalJournal.com also consults news organizations on how to empower their audience to acquire content, drive revenue and increase engagement from digital media properties. For more information, visit digitaljournal.com.
About Polar Mobile
Polar Mobile is the global leader in enabling businesses to extend their presence across mobile devices by leveraging a proprietary software Platform (SMART™). More than 7 million people in over 100 countries use Apps powered by Polar’s SMART™ Platform for the most engaging mobile experience. Polar has over 400 Apps across iPhone, BlackBerry and Android smartphones for 200 world-class customers in news, sports, entertainment and lifestyle media verticals. For more information, visit polarmobile.com.
By Chris Hogg
Polar Mobile, a company that makes mobile applications for more than 150 customers including Time, BusinessWeek, and Sports Illustrated, to name a few, will release a paper today that will identify the top trends in mobile for 2011.
Digital Journal obtained a copy of the report ahead of its release.
Among the 11 major trends to watch out for in 2011: Security threats, major fragmentation across various platforms and devices, and massive growth for the tablet market. According to the report, social media will play an increasingly important role in mobile and marketers and businesses will need to start focusing on engagement rather than number of downloads.
“Mobile will start to become part of every business’ marketing and distribution strategy in 2011,” Kunal Gupta, CEO of Polar Mobile, said in an email statement. “That’s where we all spend our time and brands, marketers and publishers will want to capture that opportunity.”
Gupta was also a speaker at Digital Journal’s Future of Media event held in September.
Going into 2011, Polar Mobile says the following areas are key to the growth of mobile over the next year:
Mobile strategies will extend beyond iPhone and iPad. Polar Mobile says simply having an iPhone app is not a true mobile strategy.
Research firm Gartner forecasts mobile App downloads will top four billion this year and grow to 21 billion by 2013.
Furthermore, more than 1 billion smartphones are expected to ship by 2013, with players other than just Apple (Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone, Symbian, Samsung and more)
For developers working with Android, fragmentation will become a challenge because Google has released seven versions of its Android OS (1.1, 1.5, 1.6, 2.0, 2.01, 2.1, 2.2) in less than two years.
Polar Mobile says older Android devices will suffer from performance lags.
Furthermore, OEMs such as HTC, Samsung, LG and Motorola each customize their version of Android to distinguish their phones on the market. This will compound the Android fragmentation problems.
Tablets are going to be a major part of the growth of the mobile industry. Polar Mobile believes tablets will become as commonplace as computers, appearing in every home.
Going into 2011, Samsung, RIM, HTC, LG, Acer, Cisco, Dell, Motorola, OpenPeak, Viewsonic, Apple and others will all have their own tablets.
Customers will be drawn to new distribution channels and have more options when purchasing tablets, from OEMs, carriers and retailers.
Apple is expected to sell more than 10 million iPads and Samsung is expected to hit 1 million units sold this year. Gartner believes more than 55 million tablets will be sold in 2011.
Right now advertisers, marketers and businesses typically focus on number of downloads rather than number of active users. In 2011, that will change.
Polar Mobile says most businesses have no clue what happens inside their apps, which is why most only report on the number of downloads. In 2011, improved analytics and tracking capabilities will allow companies to build products that promote user engagement, and enable them to tweak based on real-world feedback.
Companies will shift priorities to focus more on continued usage than number of downloads.
Like the Web, social will play a huge part in the future of mobile.
Polar Mobile notes that 35 percent of Twitter’s active members use the service on their mobile device.
[url=http://www.facebook.com/press/info.php?statistics t=_blank]According to Facebook[/url], there are more than 200 million active users who access the site via their mobile device and those users are twice as active as non-mobile users.
Polar Mobile says mobile consumption habits are different than online user experiences and social will play a role in making mobile unique.
With the rise of usage on mobile platforms, the world will see more mobile-exclusive brands and content emerge.
Polar Mobile says new, mobile-only brands will be launched by traditional publishers and niche and focused content will be used to create “greater user stickiness.”
Companies that expand on mobile will also be able to leverage new distribution channels to acquire new users.
Paywalls are going to suffer on mobile. Outside of iTunes, Polar Mobile says it’s very difficult to buy physical or virtual goods on your phone, and limited infrastructure will be the stumbling block for paid content.
Polar Mobile says the industry needs major infrastructure updates and billing improvements before paid content and micro-transaction businesses will see mass adoption.
Applications and mobile websites will be more intertwined, offering a better user experience. Polar Mobile says apps will leverage the mobile Web to scale utility and add custom features across multiple devices.
As the app and mobile web markets mature, average users eventually won’t be able to tell the difference between a mobile website and an app.
Apps will begin using near-field-communication (NFC) technology to enable them to become mobile commerce tools. For example, retailers will be able to use NFC to increase in-store purchases by pushing notifications to shoppers about deals or specials.
Polar Mobile says Android Gingerbread, the recent release of the OS, also supports an API for NFC, giving developers the tools they need to build functionality into apps.
In addition to NFC, RFID chips implanted in smartphones will turn them into payment tools.
Companies and individuals will need to pay more attention to App security and threats, as mobile adoption grows into 2011.
Polar Mobile says smartphones often store far more personal information than desktops that is easily accessible by mobile apps, and App distribution channels do not currently mandate security testing.
The company warns that nefarious developers could use techniques such as spoofing, tampering, repudiation, information disclosure, denial of service, and elevation of privilege to get personal information.
Finally, Polar Mobile says fragmentation across operating systems and devices will grow exponentially. Going into 2011, there will be a huge number of mobile platforms, including Apple iOS, Google Android, RIM BlackBerry, Windows Phone, HP Palm, Samsung Bada, Nokia Symbian and Intel MeeGo.
The device market will also expand, including smartphones, feature phones, tablets, smart TVs, automobiles, netbooks and browsers.
By Chris Hogg
Microsoft is teaming up with Canadian app developer Polar Mobile to create 500 applications for Windows Phone 7, Microsoft’s new mobile product.
According to a Globe and Mail report, Polar Mobile will build Windows Phone versions of its 350 existing apps available for BlackBerry, iPhone and Android users. The company will also build future apps for Windows Phone.
Polar Mobile is a Toronto-based company of 40 people. The company has made apps for the Toronto Maple Leafs, Time Magazine, CBS Sports and more. Kunal Gupta, the company’s CEO, was a speaker at Digital Journal’s Future of Media event in September.
The Globe calls the deal one of the largest ever in the Canadian app development industry and positions Microsoft to play catch-up to Apple, Google and Research in Motion on the mobile front.
“What has changed today versus two years ago is that they’re not selling phones on hardware and price,” Gupta told the Globe. “They realize that people are buying based on apps and content, and they see us as a one-to-many strategy.”
Polar Mobile has seen success in the app world because of its ability to produce mobile applications quickly. Unlike other app publishers that produce custom-made apps, Polar Mobile uses its “SMART News Platform” which is a template model. Customers provide the content but the overall framework of each app comes from the platform. The result is an app can up and running in a very short amount of time compared to custom-made apps.
See also: Video from the Future of Media 2010
On Sept. 8, five panelists shared their vision of the future of news with a packed Toronto audience. Discussion flowed from mobile news on your smartphone, to how geolocation will notify you of stories happening in your area. In addition, panelists talked about how news outlets are leveraging Facebook to become more “social” and why journalists should know about SEO and analytics.
These were some of the discussion topics at the Future of Media 2010 panel discussion held in Toronto’s Drake Hotel, where a standing room-only crowd crammed into the Underground space to hear what panelists had to say about journalism’s prospects. The Future of Media event is hosted by DigitalJournal.com. It’s a regular event intended to bring a variety of experts together to discuss changes in the news industry, emerging trends and their impact on the media business.
The panel was made up of executives from a variety of companies: Elmer Sotto, head of growth at Facebook Canada; David Skok, Senior Producer of Online Content for Global News; digital marketing and social media strategist Mark Evans; Kunal Gupta, CEO of Polar Mobile; and The Globe and Mail’s Managing Editor, Digital, Anjali Kapoor.
The standing-room only event began with a discussion on the challenges facing mainstream media today. Despite the struggle to retain print readership, the digital era is ushering in a new variety of media consumer, the panelists agreed.
While the conversation focused primarily on social media and its influence on news, Evans stated strongly that content is still king, and many panelists agreed. “Content will still be king, not all the bells and whistles that comes with it”, said Kapoor, with Skok nodding in agreement. “Journalists should be great storytellers, no matter what,” Skok noted.
But where content is read is changing and will continue to evolve. Gupta from Polar Mobile says reading news on your smartphone should be the norm, if only media outlets invested more in implementing apps. “The growth in mobile users has blind-sided media companies. [Polar Mobile] has gone from one million to six million users,” he said.
Gupta also cited an intriguing statistic regarding content consumption, saying mobile users consume 100 pages of content per month on Time.com’s smartphone application compared to only 14 pages on Time.com’s website.
Evans countered Gupta’s statement, saying mobile isn’t yet catering to advertisers so its success as a news platform is still up in the air. Gupta responded by saying the mobile ad market is immature in Canada, so all we get now is that tiny banner ad across the screen. “The infrastructure needs to improve,” Gupta said.
Gupta also discussed how payment systems need to be simpler in the future in order for any kind of micropayment process to work effectively. He’s unsure when this will occur, but Gupta said he is certain news outlets would benefit from a more mature smartphone market.
The discussion then turned to what Google CEO Eric Schmidt recently said to the Atlantic Monthly: Newspapers will survive the digital revolution but expect news to be delivered on anything but paper.
Kapoor from the Globe & Mail responded by saying she sees print newspapers still appealing to news junkies; compelling content will continue to attract readers, it’s just a matter of complementing print stories with online add-ons, she said. Evans agreed, saying the growth of free dailies should demonstrate there is still demand for print.
When the talk turned to Facebook’s role in the media industry, Facebook Canada’s Sotto and Evans argued about the issue of the social network being a “walled garden.” Evans felt Facebook doesn’t offer a variety of ideas since people tend to read within an echo chamber. Sotto replied by saying you never know what you’ll find in your Facebook News Feed. He recalled clicking on links from a friend about country news in his feed, even though he never liked the music, “but I felt compelled to learn more about it.”
Kapoor noted the Globe & Mail enjoyed partnering with Facebook recently to bolster the Globe’s viewership. Sotto said the Globe saw an 81 percent increase in Facebook referral traffic when it implemented the Facebook “Like” button on the site.
Kapoor also said media outlets should get away from the idea of “we need to build everything ourselves.” She added, “The challenge is that news organizations shouldn’t be developing everything, they should be partnering. The online environment is a very different environment, and those skills aren’t always translated to traditional newsrooms.”
The panel also touched upon the issue of moderating comments. They wondered if online comments should be moderated in-house or outsourced. Evans believed this service should be outsourced because of cost, but some of the other panelists disagreed.
The panel was then asked about Twitter’s potential as a breaking-news source. Look at how the hostage crisis at the Discovery Channel building heaped praise on the micro-blogging service with headlines such as “Twitter breaks hostage story.” What happened to news outlets getting those scoops?
“Twitter is not a content creator,” Evans said. “It allows people to have conversations, to say what they want, but it’s not a news outlet. We have to remember that.”
Evans went on to say the difference between journalists and the public tweeting news they come across is storytelling. Laying out the facts and uncovering verifiable sources are skills media organizations still covet.
Speaking of skills, what talents should the next generation of journalists perfect in order to be attractive to news outlets? Kapoor said the Globe looks for journalists who can tell a good story and report effectively. She also said today’s journalists should also know more about SEO, analytics and knowing who the audience is, as well as social media and multimedia journalism.
“Be bold, experiment, that’s what we want to see,” Kapoor said.
Skok echoed her statement but stressed he would still like to see journalists hone the age-old skills of producing quality content. That said, Skok also supports using technology to tell stories in new ways. For example, Skok said his company gave every Global National reporter across Canada a new iPhone 4 with which to shoot video reports in addition to standard coverage.
When it comes to working at Facebook, Sotto likes to see risk-takers try new things. Some of their best ideas, such as photo tagging, came from all-night programming sessions when staff wanted to play around with brainstormed ideas, he said. Sotto also praised the University of Waterloo, where he said Facebook has discovered some of the best interns who went on to become employees.
After the panel discussion, the event moved to a Q&A where panelists took questions from the audience. One self-professed techie asked the panel what it thought about the future of radio and podcasts. Evans admitted he doesn’t listen to radio much, saying “podcasts are like the ugly orphan in the corner.”
Skok, on the other hand, thinks audio reports could be part of media’s future; during the G20 protests in Toronto, a Global reporter complemented her editorial with a voicemail add-on to a liveblog during a car fire. “She was terrified and you could hear it in her voice. It was the most compelling thing I have heard in years,” he said.
On Twitter, Digital Journal got a question via @annejoyce, who asked about social media’s popularity creating positions such as community managers at news outlets. Will these types of job openings continue to flourish or is it a passing fad?
Kapoor said the Globe isn’t consistent in how it handles this newly created position, considering how hazy the ROI has become in implementing a social media manager. It can also be difficult in measuring the success of someone involved in social media. “Do you base the qualification on traffic or Twitter mentions or something else?” she asked.
Evans answered Anne’s question bluntly. “Today, would you rather be a social media manager or a journalist? I’d go with social media, without a doubt.”
The Future of Media event was hosted by DigitalJournal.com and was sponsored by Suite 66, Queensway Audi and CNW Group. Prize sponsors included Rogers Wireless, Palm, Flip Video and Dell.
See also: Video from the Future of Media 2010
For those who missed the Future of Media event on Sept 8, 2010, the following clips have been made available. You can also read a written recap of Future of Media 2010.
The discussion topic was social media and mobile, and included a panel made up of experts from a variety of industries:
- Kunal Gupta, CEO, Polar Mobile
- Anjali Kapoor, Managing Editor, Globe and Mail, Digital
- David Skok, Senior Producer of Online Content for Global News
- Elmer Sotto, head of growth for Facebook Canada
- Mark Evans, a social media expert and strategist