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WAN 2008: ‘Newspaper phone’ launch to build audience awareness of mobile services + barriers to development of newspaper’s mobile platforms

June 1st, 2008 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Journalism, Mobile, Newspapers

The launch of the world’s first ‘newspaper’ telephone by Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter (DN) was part of a plan to establish it as a recognised platform for news, DN’s head of mobile told an industry forum today.

DN launched the phone in partnership with Nokia and Nordic mobile service provider Telnor in December to give users instant access to the paper’s online content, Johan Brandt told the digital media roundtable at the World Newspaper Congress.

“We did this because we had three challenges [with mobile]. We had to get people to realise we had a pretty good mobile site. Many people just didn’t know that they could find news from the mobile internet, not enough people were aware of it as a channel,” he said.

“Secondly, one of the big barriers was that it’s difficult to browse the internet with a mobile, there are too many clicks… and third was ‘what does it cost to serve?’. Mobile providers charge users by megabyte. But what is a megabyte? Is it an article or a mobile TV episode. People don’t know what it’s going to cost them.”

In order to promote the newspaper portal, he added, it was important that the phone allowed users to assess DN’s mobile service in a single click and surf those web pages without incurring charges for downloading data.

The service, he added, is now attracting 50,000 unique users per month – up more than 40 per cent from last year – but there remained significant factors hampering the development of the mobile phone as an established platform to deliver news and on which newspapers can make significant revenue.

He identified a lack of standardised technology and measurement across the mobile market as the primary drawback to significant growth.

“There are no standards on the mobile market, it’s unnecessarily difficult and hard for the developers to create model services. I want to see growth from the walled garden model to a more open environment,” he said.

“Secondly, there is a lack of standards when it comes to advertising and measurement. There are different ad formats for different mobile sites. The market is fragmented and this makes advertisers frustrated and it also dwarves the mobile market’s potential in the short term.

“As a result of this there is a lack of strategic integration of marketing across mobile and other platforms for advertisers.

“There are too many pricing models for our advertisers to learn and in Sweden there are no valid or integrated tools for measurement, there are just no standards.”

In addition to this, he said, it was difficult for consumers to establish the cost of accessing data on phones and that it could prove to be a deterrent to use.

“In Sweden there are several hundred mobile phone subscriptions, with different prices for surfing. How can the user really know which subscription to get and what it costs to surf when it’s paid for by megabyte?

“I think there should be flat fees for time spent, that would make cost more predictable [for users].”

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