How right the biweekly computer magazine was in reading the tea leaves of what the 21st century had in store for online users.
Steve Jobs and his Apple company have clearly been one of the leading pioneers to have cashed in on the growing popularity of computer applications or apps with the opening of the Apple Store on July 11, 2008, which offers iPhone and iPod touch users a wide selection of apps in 20 categories, including games, business, news, sports, health, reference and travel.
In January, Apple announced more than three billion apps have been downloaded by users from its App Store ; and a company representative recently confirmed that the Cupertino, Calif. company, as of August, 2010, offers more than 225,000 apps on the App Store
News organizations have been especially anxious to take advantage of this new venue for disseminating information as more and more consumers abandon the print newspapers or watching television news from their living rooms; opting instead to read their news on the run-either from the gym, in their cars, during the lunch breaks, using their iphones or laptops.
Recent data from the Pew Research Center, shows that 59 percent of adults now access the internet wirelessly using a laptop or a cell phone.
Not only are news organizations going wireless in increasing numbers, but their very survival, especially print publications, hinges on how well they are able to market their products on the iphone and ipad.
According to Michael Gartenberg, a partner and analyst with the Altimeter Group, ``As consumers use their devices for more functionality and to consume more content, newspapers, magazines etc need to embrace this change with compelling apps and business models to keep their readers.’’
Despite the importance of media organizations developing creative online venues, there are still media analysts who question how profitable apps as a gateway to news information will be in the long run.
``Clearly some news organizations have hope they can use apps to add a powerful new revenue stream to their operations, but there isn’t enough data yet for us to know what kind of impact the apps environment will have on 1) consumer consumption habits; 2) consumer paying practices’’ Lee Rainie, Director of the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project in Washington D.C. wrote in an email.
To give you a sense of the variety of news available on mobile devices, I compiled a brief list of apps that are on the Apple Store.
• The Wall Street Journal: unveiled their app for the ipad in April, which provides updated news and information, full-screen video, market data and customizable features, including the ability to save articles and full sections, such as ``What’s News’’, ``Marketplace, Money & Investing’’ and Personal Journal, for later or offline reading. The Wall Street Journal for iPad is available as a stand-alone subscription for $3.99 per week from the App Store on iPad. According to the company press release, the app is free to download with a subscription required for full access to all content and features. Current Journal subscribers will receive full access free for a limited time.
• The New York Times features the ``Editors Choice'' application , a free app and in sync for Wi-Fi or through a cellular network, which downloads the latest news directly to your device.
Besides the Journal and the Times, leading television news networks can be found at the Apple Store, including:
• CNN launched the international iPhone app last month, a free application, featuring global news through text, video and photos, which also includes user-generated content capture and upload functionality through iReport. The app additionally provides access to an extensive selection of on-demand video clips across many categories, including World, Most Popular, Sport, Business, U.S., Entertainment, Tech and CNN en Español.
And last year, CNN came out with the CNN iPhone, which according to a company representative, ``carries with it a dual revenue stream - ads and a $1.99 price tag.’’
• Fox News, meanwhile,features Fox News for the iphone, which according to a Fox spokesperson, is the number one free news application through the Apple Store,
FoxsNews for the iphone features the latest news, top videos, FOX News shows, the Fox Business Network, live video streaming (including clips on demand) and Fox News Radio.
• ABC News features an app specifically tailored to the ipad in which the user with a mere spin of the globe reads breaking news stories, has the option of customizing news to their particular interests with access to a rich archive of historic news stories.
• National Public Radio (NPR) in August, 2009, launched its news app which uses location-based technology so that users just type in their zip code to access the nearest NPR station. Users are able to read news articles and listen to some of the best programs NPR has to offer, including the ``Morning Edition’’, ``All Things Considered’’, ``Car Talk’’ and ``Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me’’!
If you like sports, new apps geared to rabid fans seem to be popping up like toasters on the Apple Store. Two of the most popular are what Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association offers.
• MLB features an extremely popular app (At Bat 2010) available for the iphone and ipad touch for a annual subscription of $14.99, in which users can stay connected to their teams by listening to play-by-play, or the means to monitor a live scoreboard, view a batter-pitcher icon, which displays the type of pitch, including the speed. The app additionally provides video highlights and a free game of the day.
• During the 2009-2010 season, the NBA launched more than 100 mobile devices on a variety of platforms, including NBA Team Game Time Courtside, an app designed exclusively for the ipad during the NBA playoffs , which included bracket break downs, play-by-play features and video highlights for an in-depth look at every game. Also available on the Apple Store is NBA Game Time, another free application which offers fans access to game recaps and highlights, along with live play-by-play audio for every game
App Store Milestones
July 14, 2008: Three days after the opening of its new App le Store, Apple announces that iPhone and iPod touch users have downloaded more than 10 million applications. Apple reports it has more than 800 applications available on the App Store, with more than 200 offered for free and more than 90 percent priced at less than $10.
September 9, 2008: Apple announces more than 100 million applications have been downloaded by users
April, 2009: Apple announces one billion applications have been downloaded from its App Store. The one billionth app was ``Bump’’ created by Bump Technologies, which was downloaded by Connor Mulcahey, age 13, of Weston, CT.
September 28, 2009: Apple announces more than two million apps have been downloaded from the App Store. Apple additionally reports more than 85,000 apps are available to the more than 50 million iPhone™ and iPod touch® customers worldwide.
January 5, 2010: Apple announced that more than three billion apps have been downloaded from its revolutionary App Store by iPhone® and iPod touch® users worldwide.