HOME
          
LATEST STORY
What’s the right news experience on a phone? Stacy-Marie Ishmael and BuzzFeed are trying to figure it out
ABOUT                    SUBSCRIBE
Sept. 14, 2010, 11 a.m.

Five important mobile app findings for news orgs

A new report out today gives news organizations reasons to start thinking mobile apps (if they haven’t already). The Pew Internet and American Life Project partnered with Nielsen to survey cellphone users on their app habits, finding that about 43 percent of cellphone users have an app on their device, though only about 29 percent actually use them. With smartphone market share expected to accelerate its rapid growth, app usage is also sure to increase. Here are five data points from the Pew-Nielsen report that stood out to me as noteworthy for news organizations:

Young people like apps

Struggling to get those young consumers? They’re the single most app-friendly bunch. About 47 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds said they’ve downloaded an app, compared to 39 percent of 30- to 49-year-olds and just 14 percent of 50-plus. That’s important, particularly when paired with a previous Pew finding that showed that young people have taken to giving mobile donations. That’s a good mix for nonprofit news organizations. (Though even with Apple’s newly explained rules, in-app donations aren’t allowed on the iPhone.)

People who use apps consume news online

Apps could be a good way to hang onto your audience, letting them follow you onto another platform. The report surveyed app users about their online activities, revealing that they are more likely to be online news consumers than are non-app users: 90 percent of app users consume news online, compared to 75 percent of non-app users. Also, they are more likely to visit a video sharing site, 80 percent versus 66 percent.

News apps do relatively well

As part of the study, Pew used Nielsen numbers that asked active app users (those who had downloaded at least one app in the previous 30 days) what apps they’ve used in the past month. Sure, news apps aren’t at the same level as puzzles and strategy games (36 percent), Facebook (42 percent), or Google Maps (35 percent), but look down the list and the news apps start to appear. Nine percent of users said they’d used a CNN app in the past month, 8 percent USA Today, 7 percent New York Times, and 7 percent Fox. Other local apps for food and entertainment pull in similar percentages, perhaps a good indicator for local news organizations. The king of the news/weather category, unsurprisingly: The Weather Channel’s app, used by a whopping 32 percent.

People digest apps in small doses

The study found that most users who use their apps daily do so for less than 30 minutes. Asked for context, 71 percent said they use their apps when they’re alone, 53 percent while waiting for someone or something, and 36 percent while commuting. (Hopefully they’re not driving.) It seems like people want a few moments here and there with their apps, a use case where a good headline or a snappy lede is particularly important.

People will pay

Free apps are still most popular; of Nielsen’s recent downloaders, only 37 percent had downloaded even a single paid app in the previous 30 days. But among paid apps, the majority were $2 or more, belying the common idea that 99 cents is the price point with the best chance for success. The dollar amounts are small — only 23 percent of paid apps cost more than $5. But they’re still greater than zero — the amount many have proven willing to pay for content on the web.

[Editor’s note: Originally, we accidentally published this post too early and jumped the gun on an embargo. Our sincere apologies to the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, who have since lifted the embargo.]

POSTED     Sept. 14, 2010, 11 a.m.
SHARE THIS STORY
   
Show comments  
Show tags
 
Join the 15,000 who get the freshest future-of-journalism news in our daily email.
What’s the right news experience on a phone? Stacy-Marie Ishmael and BuzzFeed are trying to figure it out
“Nobody has to read you. You have to earn that. You have to respect people’s attention.”
Come work for Nieman Lab
We have an opening for a staff writer in our Cambridge newsroom.
The newsonomics of telling your audience what they should do
At WNYC, a public radio station is getting more aggressive about telling people what to do: go vote, get more sleep, stay healthy. What happens when a news outlet starts talking about behavior change?
What to read next
718
tweets
Ken Doctor: The New York Times’ financials show the transition to digital accelerating
The numbers may look flat, but they contain a continuing set of ups and downs. Up next: executing on a year’s worth of launches.
540Here’s some remarkable new data on the power of chat apps like WhatsApp for sharing news stories
At least in certain contexts, WhatsApp is a truly major traffic driver — bigger even than Facebook. Should there be a WhatsApp button on your news site?
502Controlled chaos: As journalism and documentary film converge in digital, what lessons can they share?
Old and new media types from journalism, documentary, and technology backgrounds gathered at MIT to share practices and discuss mutual concerns.
These stories are our most popular on Twitter over the past 30 days.
See all our most recent pieces ➚
Fuego is our heat-seeking Twitter bot, tracking the links the future-of-journalism crowd is talking about most on Twitter.
Here are a few of the top links Fuego’s currently watching.   Get the full Fuego ➚
Encyclo is our encyclopedia of the future of news, chronicling the key players in journalism’s evolution.
Here are a few of the entries you’ll find in Encyclo.   Get the full Encyclo ➚
Quartz
The Daily Voice
Alaska Dispatch
CBS News
Forbes
The Daily Telegraph
PBS NewsHour
Center for Public Integrity
Honolulu Civil Beat
The Wall Street Journal
Mozilla
Tucson Citizen