Traditional media companies have a chance to reclaim some dwindling profits by taking advantage of native and hybrid mobile apps, according to a report titled, Mobile Media Survival Guide: Implications for Media Businesses in the Post-PC World. The PDF report compares and contrasts native apps (residing entirely on a phone or tablet) with web-based content delivery. While the former approach can be more challenging to develop and deploy, it results in more user engagement and, ultimately, monetization.
In particular, the report highlighted app store distribution, push notifications, and in-app purchasing as monetization advantages over web-based distribution. Users also spend more time in apps than they do on the mobile web, according to a January study by Flurry Analytics.
Hybrid apps are emerging as a convenient solution for many companies, the report says. A hybrid app might pull content from the web and present it within the app, or it might be as simple as a shortcut to the mobilized website.
The different sizes of phone, tablet, laptop, and desktop screens make a consistent user experience for online publications difficult to achieve. The report recommends having a solid API and RSS feed that can distribute content to multiple platforms and can be used with emerging technologies.
While many business sectors can benefit from native or hybrid apps, the report highlighted the newspaper industry, which is currently earning the same inflation-adjusted amount as it did in 1950, despite reaching heights three times that as recently as the year 2000. Meanwhile, News Corp’s The Daily, a magazine distributed as an app, reported 100,000 paid subscribers on the iPad on its first anniversary in February. Publisher Greg Clayman predicted profitability in “the next couple of years,” ahead of the typical five- to seven-year break-even point for print publications.
In addition, the report noted the disparity between mobile operating system market share and online traffic. As of August 2011, Apple’s iOS held 43.1 percent of smartphone and tablet market share but accounted for 58.5 percent of digital traffic. This reflects the somewhat disproportionate attention given to iOS by the software industry; despite Android’s growth, another Flurry study showed that three-quarters of mobile application development efforts focus on the iPhone and iPad. Programmers point to the ease of developing for iOS and the fragmentation of Android.