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by James Perrin on 7th June 2011
In a bold move, the FT has decided to produce an App that can be accessed easily across the proliferating number of devices and different Operating Systems [See: FT Bypasses Apple’s iTunes, Launches HTML5 Web App | TechCrunch].
As newspaper print sales dwindle, many news publishers have turned to web based journalism such as Apps designed for Apple, Android or BlackBerry devices [See: The Times' Paywall to Challenge Free Online Content]. Such a move has seen new markets open and potential profits flourish again, however certain news publishers have restricted their Apps to certain developers and devices.
Why? Well, although Apps open up new revenue streams, they also take a chunk from the news publishers. For example, Apple will soon start to charge publishers a 30% cut from app subscriptions – therefore to reproduce a number of Apps across different operating systems can actually prove to be quite costly, hence why certain Apps are only available through Apple’s iTunes for example.
Well this is something that the FT wants to change, as their Web App has been launched independent from Apple’s iTunes. The App uses the new HTML5 web language, which means that it is now a browser-based service, accessible through any device. HTML 5 has been developed to support the latest multimedia whilst keeping websites easy to use, easy to read by users and easily understood by devices and technologies.
The App itself has been developed for all devices and will have content that is accessible even when offline, due to saved articles and other information. The CEO of the FT, John Ridding explains, “The FT Web App offers our customers flexibility and freedom of choice with access to our global journalism anytime, anywhere, with a single login or subscription. In a world of increasingly digital complexity we want to keep our service simple, easy to use and efficient to offer our customers the best possible experience of FT journalism.”
Whether or not this is the start of things to come for publishers we will have to wait and see, however what is striking is the lack of need for an App Store to acquire downloads; but that might have something to do with the FT’s existing 224,000 online subscribers.
Is there a trend emerging here, especially in light of the FT’s new App and the emergence of cloud technology? For example, the FT app is being hosted independently from a single device, and cloud technology (including Apple’s new iCloud platform) also allows for files to be hosted externally and accessed from any location. HTML 5, as opposed to the app culture, could be another step towards greater accessibility across mobile devices.
Speaking at Apple’s annual developer conference, Apple boss Steve Jobs announced the iCloud which enables users to synch store and listen to files from their iTunes library from any apple device that connects to the web. [See: Apple strikes a chord with its new iCloud service | BBC]
iCloud and cloud technology in general gives people the freedom to access their files from any device and from any location with internet access. So for example, if you were an apple user, you could access your files, such as music, videos, pictures or work documents using any apple device such as an iPad, iPhone, or Mac book and at any location, e.g. at home, at work, on holiday.
The FT could well be pioneering a new way of getting content out to a wider audience and without the restrictions of individual apps for individual platforms. Web technology rarely stands still for long and this appears to be yet another step towards improved access for all users – regardless of what individual device they may be using.