Newspapers, which always seemed disinclined towards adopting new media, are now realising the importance of catering to their readers who are increasing getting their daily dose of news logged on to the internet or on the handy screen of their mobiles. While most newspapers adopted the online medium years ago, they are now turning to the smallest portable screen – the mobile phone.
The Times of India has just launched a mobile ePaper application for Blackberrys, smartphones and PDAs. A user can access The Times of India, The Economic Times and Mumbai Mirror on their GPRS (mobile internet) enabled handsets. The Bennett and Coleman publication had launched an m-paper service a year ago for regular handsets.
The other leading English daily, Hindustan Times has also launched an m-paper widget in beta version about a month ago. To get the widget, which provides updated information on home screens of high-end phones, readers can send an SMS to a short code and download it.
Alternatively, there are value added service companies such as providers like ValueFirst, who provide content to operators and they in turn offer it to their customers. Manish Jain, vice-president, business development at ValueFirst says, “Our company provides m-paper on the MMS (multimedia messaging service) technology. We provide text based services to almost all GSM and CDMA operators and have our own editorial board which decides on the content that goes on the mobile.” The content comprises of Bollywood news, comic strips and news from English newspapers.
Commenting on newspapers on mobile as a service, Mahesh Uppal, telecom analyst and director, Com First India, says, “It is an interesting market and has a good future provided one has affordable data access.
According to a study by mobile intelligence firm Informate, the number of clicks for news based applications is one per cent.
As data access improves, newspapers could see a whole new readership base on the mobile, provided that they are able to meet the information needs of their readers on the go.