Apparently, the Associated Press has realized that this whole digital distribution thing isn’t going away and the news service has created a new division, AP Gateway, that will target smartphones and tablets.
The new division will focus on creating content for tablets and smartphones like the iPhone, BlackBerry, and Android devices, as well as creating a platform for its partners to utilize. “At last, we truly will be able to deliver the right content to the right people at the right time to the right device,” said AP CEO Tom Curley in a prepared statement.
Like most old media, the AP is still struggling to figure out how to get people to pay for its digital goods. Pre-Internet, the AP and Reuters were the kings of the syndicated news but now that the monopoly on printed news is gone, the AP is struggling to find its footing. It has been known to be heavy-handed with blogs and news aggregators, but it appears to be changing its tone.
The AP Mobile app has already been downloaded 3.5 million times, so there is definitely an audience for this type of content. I use it all the time and think it’s a pretty well-done app, but I wouldn’t pay more than a dollar for what can sometimes be commodity news. The organization is already working on a paid version for Apple’s upcoming iPad that will work on a subscription basis. It will probably rely on a hybrid paid/free model for the next generation of its products.
The AP said this new division will try to utilize the inherent advantages of mobiles and tablets to create more compelling content. This means the content can be location-relevant instead of just a fire hose of news. The AP is also trying to shift into more of a two-way model of consumer interaction, like Facebook or Twitter. This is a massive transformation for a company that has largely tried to cling onto its old business models but it has reportedly invested about $60 million in technology infrastructure. It’s going to be a difficult transition for the AP but I wish it well because we still do need this type of news organization.