News apps gaining ground in collaboration with existing media
NOBUYUKI OKADA, Nikkei staff writer
TOKYO -- News apps for smartphones are coming into their own in Japan. And to cash in on the trend, Japanese online news content providers are collaborating with existing media outlets to offer readers a range of services.
The NewsPicks app offers news curation services specializing on economic news, targeting professionals in their 20s and 30s. "We are a platform of economic news and we have no intention of competing with other media outlets," said Yusuke Umeda, co-CEO of Uzabase, which operates the app. It also partners with existing media to source news reports for online delivery.
Other popular news apps include Gunosy, SmartNews and Antenna. Gunosy and SmartNews cover general news, while Antenna, which is operated by Glider associates, handles lifestyle related news. They have all topped 3 million downloads since starting services.
News apps are growing popular especially with younger people, which makes the sites attractive advertising platforms. And as such, newspaper companies and wire agencies are turning to them as new tools to deliver their stories to readers.
Computer-oriented news sites mainly generate revenue from ads, which are hard to display on smaller smartphone screens. But when a news app is downloaded, the user's identity is known and thus it is easy to charge fees. NewsPicks offers an all-you-can-read subscription service for articles through contract publishers for 1,500 yen (about $15) a month.
A brain drain from existing media to digital news services has been going on for many years now in the U.S. And this is starting to be seen in Japan as well. Uzabase on Tuesday announced that it had appointed Norihiko Sasaki, former editor-in-chief at Toyo Keizai Online, as its managing director. Sasaki will also head NewsPick's newly launched editorial.
News apps are competing with online games and social networking sites for a bigger portion of a smartphone user's time. The day will soon come when ongoing collaborations between conventional and digital media will become mainstream.