The Financial Times reports that the US news cooperative Associated Press is working on an iPad app
that will give users access to news and sports direct from the wire service. The company's head indicated that they might be planning on making it a subscription-only app when it launches, continuing a trend in online news that has been spreading with some of AP's member newspapers, major content providers like the New York Times
and the Wall Street Journal
, and has been announced by competing wire service Reuters.
Tom Curley, the AP's chief executive officer told a press group that the company was creating a new business unit
for its mobile service offerings called AP Gateway. The focus of this new group within AP's organization will be expanding and developing the company's AP Mobile news service for mobile phones. AP highlighted the special services that the they came up with for the Winter Olympics and the Copenhagen climate conference. Curley said that some of its services might be available free with ads, but others might be subscription-based.
The company says that it plans to use the AP Gateway group to help its 1,500 member newspapers come up with digital content rather than each having to do the development on its own. Jane Seagrave, the AP's chief revenue officer, said that AP Gateway would provide what she called a "custom white label" content to members that would carry the individual newspaper's masthead and local information. Seagrave said the app might be free initially, with future versions being a paid download
Traditional print media has struggled to keep up with changes in how people receive their news, with so much available for free from sources like CNN.com or aggregators like Google News. Newspapers with industry specific focus, for example the Financial Times
and Wall Street Journal
, have had some success with subscriber-only portals on the web and apps on the iPhone and other smartphones.
The decision to create its own iPad app puts the AP out in front of the newspaper industry, which is in general playing a wait-and-see game about the new device. Publishers such as McClatchy Co., The Seattle Times and Los Angeles Times have declined to answer any questions about their plans for the iPad. The New York Times, which was featured in Steve Jobs's presentation of the iPad, has also said nothing, though Jennifer Brook, the paper's information architect, said the paper's Web content on the iPad "captured the essence of reading a newspaper," combining "everything you love about the paper, everything you love about the Web and everything you expect from The Times."
AP's Curley told the Colorado Press Association’s annual meeting that 2010 "likely is the defining moment," saying that newspapers "must seize this opportunity to reinvigorate our business models as well as our journalism." Curley added that he had done "three years of anthropological research" that led him to the conclusion that newspapers must "differentiate their content" so as not to add to the "information overload readers were already dealing with.