The Guardian has introduced a new iPhone app, and its model is one I’ve endorsed in the past:
- iPhone app provides a much better experience than the mobile website
- Mobile version of Guardian website remains free
- iPhone app costs to download ($3.99 US, £2.39 UK)
- iPhone app content is free (beyond buying the app), but option is left open for charging for some content and/or services down the road from within the app
I bought the app this morning and I’m impressed, mostly. Best part for me is the ability to personalize the sections I want to see and prioritize them. There’s audio, but no video yet. Photo galleries are nice. Ditto for off-line reading.
I’m perplexed that some newspaper companies that have developed mobile apps still give them away free. Seems like a no-brainer to me to charge a fee to purchase the app, on the grounds of giving the mobile user a better viewing experience than the normal mobile site. As long as a more bare-bones free mobile site is available, consumers can’t really complain if you ask for a few bucks for your app.
As I’ve written in the past, I think it’s psychologically easier to get online users to pay for an app (which they get to keep and use over and over) rather than pay for news (which they can get in many other places online or on their phones for free).
The Guardian starts with the iPhone app (which seems the typical pattern these days), and then will create matching apps for other platforms: Android, RIM, Symbian, and Microsoft.