Time For Newspapers To Embrace The Mobile Opportunity
By Mike Masnick, Fri Jul 09 22:00:00 GMT 2004

Newspapers have been notoriously slow (or stupid) so far in how they've moved into the mobile news space. However, a new study is explaining why they can't hold back any longer.

Over the past few years, a growing number of newspapers have been debating how they should go mobile. Most realize that there needs to be an element of mobile content in their future at some point. However, when it comes to actually making the leap, they've been looking at the mobile issue as a problem that needs to be dealt with rather than an opportunity. Thus, it's no surprise that most attempts at offering mobile content from newspapers have been complex, cumbersome or just hard to find.

A new study has come out, however, saying that it's about time newspapers stop looking at mobile content as a problem or a distraction and realize that it's actually a huge opportunity. The report doesn't just tell newspapers to "start offering mobile content," but actually digs in and looks at over 50 different ideas for how the news business should interact with mobile phones.

Most importantly, the report really seems to push the idea that the mobile world is different. Having newspapers move into the mobile world is about much more than a new delivery channel for the news. It makes the news process more of a two way street. It lets readers communicate back to the news organizations, it allows for customization (based on users, locations, and plenty of other variables) and it even gives advertisers a more targeted audience. Finally, it can cut down on distribution and workflow costs. Still, along with this new mobile world, the newspapers need to realize that, since their audience is no longer passive readers, the newspapers need to make sure the content is compelling. They simply can't roll out the same wire service pieces that everyone else has, but need to make the content relevant and worthwhile for users to want to have it.

The study admits that it's still quite early in the mobile news space, but urges newspapers to act now, rather than later, just to build up their experiences in the space. One benefit to it being early is that the mistakes and problems won't be as noticeable or catastrophic. Knowing the way newspapers react, of course, it's unlikely many will pay too much attention to this report, but it's still good to see that the benefits and opportunities (rather than just the hurdles and pitfalls) are all being laid out for those who take the time to discover them.