Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Can the iPhone Save Journalism? Nope

Apple's Darling Thrives on Short Attention Spans; Journalists Don't

Atlantic blogger Derek Thompson wondered aloud about whether the new, whizbang iPhone could prove to be an inhaler for the wheezing news industry.
Seems there's an app called Scrollmotion that promises to 220 magazines and newspapers, along with 1 million books.
Of course, you'd be paying for this; a presumably premium selection of articles and news sources aggregated so you don't have to do the heavy lifting.
Trying to apply the iTunes model to news has its own set of problems, as Thompson notes, including the fact that, information is disposable and hardly unique, unlike music you would buy.
But the biggest problem is one of size: are you really going to spend enough time on an iPhone to read enough content you'd pay for? It's fine to check Gmail or Facebook, but to read a column, movie reviews or an analysis of the TARP program, the iPhone is just too small and distracting (all those other apps, oh, la, la) to make reading a meaningful experience.
If you're going to pay for your content -- and sooner or later, all of the good stuff online will cost you one way or the other -- the Kindle, or your laptop or PC is infinitely more commodious to read anything for more than 90 seconds at a time.
For media outlets who don't care how much you read, as long as you ante up for it, such a strategy will only nip them in the arse before long. People will soon realize there's a lot less than meets the eye -- and for good reason.
All of this isn't to say back to the drawing board. But desperate media outlets should be looking elsewhere for a savior. Scrollmotion ain't it.

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