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Paywall rises on FT’s ‘flexible’ iPad and iPhone web app

The Financial Times paywall will go up on its new web-based app this week, which has so far reported encouraging stats with 150,000 hits during the first 10 days, during which time users have not been required to login.

“We’re seeing a strong conversion from the existing subscriber base who are using the iPad app and we’re also seeing a large cohort of new users as well,” Steve Pinches, group product manager for FT.com told Journalism.co.uk.

The new web-based iPad and iPhone app was launched on 7 June and is downloaded by the user clicking on the URL app.ft.com. It has received a great deal of attention from media organisations considering investing in native iPhone, iPad, Android and BlackBerry apps.

Advantages of web-based apps include flexibility: HTML5, the language the FT app is written in, has the potential to be used across different devices, reducing the cost and time spent in developing separate apps in different languages. The new web app bypasses Apple’s App Store and therefore avoids the FT losing a 30 per cent cut.

Pinches explained the FT will be prioritising development of the web-based app. Indeed the home screen to the new app states the FT is “encouraging our readers to switch immediately to the new FT web app”.

“It’s not that we are diametrically opposed to being in apps stores. It’s just that it makes a lot more sense for us to develop things in a web-based framework,” Pinches said.

“We have a business model that we’ve spent a lot of time investing in, which we feel is great for users because it gives them access across multiple platforms and whenever we evaluate any channel, we have to make sure it meets the basic criteria for us to be able to run our business as we do.”

As the web app can be used by both iPhones and iPads, it is easier to maintain than two separate natives. It also offers various new features for iPhone users, including video and images, which were not available in the native iPhone app.

Asked if there will be a point when they will remove the native from the App Store, Pinches said: “We’re still in discussions with Apple and that’s being handled by our MD”, and described talks as “amicable”.

Unlike the iPad app which was built by a company in Colorado called Wall Street On Demand, the new app was built by London-based Assanka, which also built the FT’s Android app, predominantly using HTML5.

“They built the Android app, that was their first HTML5 app so it’s been a pretty steep learning curve.”

“The next plan is to roll that code out into the big screen Android, the small screen Android, the [BlackBerry] PlayBook and webOS,” Pinches said.

That may manifest itself as a web-based app compatible with other platforms or more native apps, Pinches explained.

“We always want to keep the two options open: being able to launch as a web app or a native app or both.”

Related content:

FT looks to bypass Apple charges with new web-based iPad app

Nearly half of FT online subscribers accessing content via mobile

 

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#mobilemedia11: FT web-based iPad and iPhone app a ‘wake-up call’ to publishers

The release of the Financial Times’ web-based HTML5  app has provided “a big wake up call” to publishers , said Andrew Grill, keynote speaker at the today’s Mobile Media Strategies day.

Earlier this month the FT released an HTML5-based iPad and iPhone app which circumvents the 30 per cent charges levied on app sales by Apple by allowing users to update content through the FT website and thus allowing the newspaper to take the full revenue.

The Economist is “watching closely” and Tom Standage, digital editor of the title, signalled it may follow suit.

“HTML5 will be the answer to all of our problems; even if it’s not yet,” predicted Ilicco Elia, a mobile product expert, who until yesterday worked for Reuters and is yet to announce where he will be working next.

Elia warned that “you can’t do everything in HTML5” and said it was a sensible option for the FT to launch in HTML5 compared with an unknown title. “It’s okay of you’re the FT because people know the brand in will go in search of it,” he explained.

Many publishers are now looking at the HTML5 hybrid: not a pure app, not a pure browser experience, said John Barnes, managing director digital strategy and development at Incisive Media, which works with B2B publishers. He explained the dilemma between developing apps when working with very different titles.

Barnes gave the example of two titles he works with: Legal Week, where 10.5 per cent of web visits are mobile, most of them accessing the site via a BlackBerry device. He urged the audience to compare this with Photography magazine which is mostly read on the iPad and iPhone.

During a session on how to make money with mobile media, Paul Lynette, head of mobile advertising at EMEA, Microsoft Advertising, showed the potential for in app ads using HTML5.

Thinking of developing an app, an mobile site or a HTML5 hybrid?

Considering the advantages of mobile editions (m.editions) versus apps versus the HTML5 hybrid, Barnes said the advantage of m.editions is they are browser-based and, therefore, provide full integration with a CMS, have the same domain name, integration with analytics and web trends.

And for news sites without an m.edition Elia gave a word of warning to the delegates of the event: “You should not be here if you don’t have an m.edition, you should be in the office coding.”

He warned there is “not a lot of margin in mobile” but it should be central to any online strategy.

Elia warned of the importance of listening to your audience. “You don’t have to be first when it comes to apps,” he said and suggesting it was better to spend more time developing a better app.

Barnes had a different suggestion to those thinking of creating an app: “Write the press release on the launch of an app before you build it. You’ll often realise it’s a crapp (crap app),” he said.

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Independent: Ten years of FT’s metered pay model

The Independent reports on the 10th anniversary of the Financial Times’ metered paywall going up.

For a decade the FT has allowed readers to access a limited number of articles for free before payment is required, a similar paywall model to that adopted by the New York Times last week. The FT has notched up 210,000 digital subscribers, each paying at least £250 for a year’s access.

[Managing director of FT.com Rob] Grimshaw points to the price of an FT digital subscription in the US – at $389 (£241), it is costlier than a subscription to the newspaper – as evidence of the growing value of digital content to the consumer.

Yet the view that online journalism should be free still largely prevails. Grimshaw is mystified: “There seems to be a real nervousness and lack of confidence amongst publishers about the lack of value of their content. The free content evangelism movement has not helped, neither has giving away content for free over a 10-year period.”

But as a couple of the comments on the article point out, the FT is a specialist publication and both companies and individuals are willing to pay for valued digital content.

The Independent’s full article is at this link

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FT Group’s digital subscriptions rise by 50 per cent

Financial Times publisher Pearson has reported an increase of 11 per cent in overall sales for its newspaper operation for the first nine months of 2010, according to a Press Association report.

The FT Group, which according to a report by the FT makes up 15 per cent of turnover, also saw digital subscriptions to its content rise by 50 per cent in the first nine months of 2010 to more than 180,000.

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Nieman: How the FT’s business model is more online retailer than publisher

August 20th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Business, Editors' pick

Fascinating article on Nieman Journalism Lab from Ken Doctor, author of Newsonomics, looking at how the Financial Times, its website and its business model take inspiration from internet retail and not publishing.

Internet retailing — think Amazon — seems like a very different business than publishing. In the endlessly measurable digital age, though, the parallels are striking. It’s not in what you are selling – books, electronics, or news stories – it’s what you know about your customers, their habits and wants.

(…) In addition, analytics support the FT’s eight-member strategic sales team as it customises marketing approaches for firms and their agencies. Grimshaw says that by early 2011, advertisers themselves will get some access to FT audience data.

Full post on Nieman Journalism Lab at this link…

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FT begins search for journalists to staff new online service

A new online service from the Financial Times is advertising for editors and writers to join them from across the globe.

FT Tilt, which will launch later this year, says on its landing page that it will provide “a similar blend of lively news and analysis for a specialist audience of finance professionals”.

The FT won’t discuss the project publicly just yet, but confirmed they are currently recruiting journalists as well as user interface engineers to work on the new site.

The project is being led by the same team that developed FT Alphaville, the company’s successful financial blog.

See more here…

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paidContent:UK: FT print sunset or Abu Dhabi sunrise?

May 27th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Newspapers

The Financial Times parent company Pearson has distanced itself from comments made on Tuesday by its director of global content standards Madi Solomon that the newspaper was “already pulling back” from print (read full PC report here). Solomon said he could see the FT stopping most of its printing within five years.

Pearson has now told paidContent:UK that it has no plans to scale back print operations and has opened a print site in Abu Dhabi this year with plans to commence printing in India soon.

Full story at this link…

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Brand Republic: FT withdraws from ABCe audits for web traffic

May 21st, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Traffic

In the same month that it launched its own metric for measuring readers across print, online and other media, the Financial Times has officially withdrawn from the monthly audit of UK newspapers’ web traffic conducted by the Audit Bureau of Circulations Electronic (ABCe). It’s been some time since the FT website’s figures were included in the monthly stats – listed as N/A below a print circulation figure in the monthly multi-platform reports issued by the auditor.

Says a spokesperson:

The FT no longer participates in ABCes as volume traffic measures have become less relevant to our advertisers and clients. We do not intend to compete on volume, rather the quality of our registered and subscriber readership.

Full story at this link…

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Talking Biz News: FT promotes Twitter as newspaper alternative in ads

Good spot by Talking Biz News (via Martin Stabe) – a new ad for the Financial Times directs readers towards the title’s Twitter feeds.

Hear first and act fast with Twitter feeds.

Get the news you need as it happens, with FT Twitter feeds. Delivering breaking FT news, features, blogs and multimedia, they’ll alert you to the developments that matter.

Image of ad at this link…

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paidContent:UK: iPad plans from Spectator and FT

paidContent:UK looks at plans from two UK publishers readying their iPad editions ahead of the device’s US launch this weekend.

Digital editions provider Exact Editions is involved with The Spectator’s iPad launch, which will adopt a freemium model, Exact’s co-founder told pC:UK.

Elsewhere the Financial Times is preparing a sponsored FT iPad app. Launch sponsor Hublot will subsidise a two-month free access period. After this, the app will revert to the same model as the FT’s iPhone app, which is feel to download, but charges for access to more than 10 articles.

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