The Future of the News App

The New York Times is building a platform to help publishers design their own newspapers, magazines, blogs and other "content" for mobile devices. It's called Press Engine, it's coming out in the fall, and it sounds like a neat idea. The content maker becomes the content enabler.

If mobile is the future, newspapers should be ready to be read on smartphones, smarttablets and whatever other smart rectangle-shaped thing comes next. The New York Times Company will try to be there, ready to offer know-how, technology and simple steps to putting journalism onto the world of smart screens. That's the argument in favor, anyway. It's possible, however, that few companies will trust the Gray Lady to handle their technology needs.

News Corp is approaching the mobile business from the opposite direction, as a content maker rather than a content enabler. Rupert Murdoch's company announced it is building a new newspaper specifically for mobile devices.

I have to say, I don't get it. Newspapers for mobile devices already exist. There's one called "The New York Times," and another called "Washington Post," and another called "Wall Street Journal," which I'm sure News Corp knows about, seeing as how they own it. All of those newspapers have apps for smart phones and smart pads that are quite good already. What value would another newspaper add?

Perhaps Murdoch has something in mind where every story is rigorously turned into a delicious fun-sized cakester of news, with two paragraphs, one conclusion and a talking point for the road. I suppose you could hire a few clever people to do this with every news story, but I'd hesitate to call this a "national newspaper."