As far as news is concerned, with this kind of momentum for mobile delivery, the race (if there ever was one) between smartphones and e-readers may well be over. Sure, e-paper is a superior interface, but smartphones win, because they can do 10, 20 or 100 things besides letting you read black-and-white print.
One implication of the small screen, when it comes to news: we may be less inclined to work hard for news by searching, surfing and visiting aggregators, and more inclined to let the news come to us, by whatever means. The challenge, then, for publishers, may be to create apps that deliver custom-tailored news to fit preferences and interests of phone users. As a start, they should follow Amy Gahranâ€™s suggestions on checking how mobile-friendly their current sites are.
General managers say u local abets a larger strategy of boosting Web traffic, which makes it a more attractive buy for marketers. Some will also be drawn to sponsorship centered on certain events, such as a high school graduation. â€œI can see specific applications that [advertisers] would want to be associated with,â€ says WMUR Creative Services Director Alex Jasiukowicz.
Hearst-Argyle Director of Digital Media Jacques Natz says the connectivity u local fosters between station and viewer might also work between station and advertiser. â€œAt some point, it can branch beyond news,â€ he says. â€œIt's a tool that marketing and sales can use, too.â€
GMs say u local is an effective way to not only give viewers a peek into the station, but give them a voice in the proceedings as well. WCVB Boston President/General Manager Bill Fine says he'll hear from viewers quicklyâ€”and in large numbersâ€”about something they liked or took issue with on-air.
Last week we looked at the emerging world of real-time cellphone data, via the projects of the MIT SENSEeable City Lab. This lab has been producing interesting analysis and visualizations of cellphone data in urban centers, a.k.a. "digital footprints." We also spoke to Andrea Vaccari, a research associate at SENSEable City Lab, about a project as yet unpublished on their website. This project analyzed the economic impact from tourists, via cellphone data, of a huge art project the city of New York helped sponsor in 2008: four man-made waterfalls hosted around NYC from June to October.