Reuters, the giant global news and information company, is expanding the offering of its content via mobile with the launch of an iPhone application and an application for Nokia's OVI store.
Late last month, I caught up with Alisa Bowen, who heads consumer publishing for Thomson Reuters. I interviewed her at the Wall Street Journal's D: All Things Digital conference.
Reuters now has app for the iPhone and for the new Nokia E72 via Nokia's OVI store. News is booming on mobile and Reuters is putting a great deal of resources into it, as David Kaplan reported last month in paidContent.
As David points out, Reuters is playing catch up in the mobile news space. The AP launched its iPhone application a year ago. Earlier this month, the AP announced a big expansion of the popular iPhone. Last month, the AP has announced an app for the Nokia E97.
Andy Plesser, Executive Producer
Alisa Bowen: Two weeks ago we launched an application on the iPhone device and the Blackberry device. The reason we moved on from just providing web-based services is there's so much more interactivity and great user experiences that can be generated using these application platforms. So we decided to take the next step forward and build in additional functionality: things like offline caching so that people can browse our content when they're in elevators or in subways, things like a better pictures experience that allows people to browse the news using a mosaic of pictures from the day, increased use of video, data, portfolios, and watch lists, and that kind of functionality which you just simply can't do very well without using the applications.
I think the applications in general are changing the game in terms of the volume of content people can consume. We found that with some of these applications the piece, the individual items of content that people are consuming are up ten or even a hundred fold on what they through through a web browsing experience. It changes both the ability to quickly navigate and to quickly consume large amounts of content, as well as the way that you might organize, or save, or share that content as well.
Andy Plesser: You know here we, we, we saw just a presentation from Nokia. What is the…what do you think of the new device? What do you think of the opportunities of…or what are you doing with Nokia and and the new operating system?
Alisa Bowen: We've had a very long standing relationship with Nokia. We work very closely with them particularly in Europe. We've participated in a number their R&D projects, particularly in recent times what being dubbed the "MoJo" experiment, "Mobile Journalism," where we worked closely with Nokia to help them refine the video capture, uploading, editing software that's in-built into their forthcoming devices. And it's been a fabulous learning experience for both organizations. We've been able to share with them some of the work flow issues that make the technology that much more usable. And they've been able to share with us some of the directions in terms of the technical capabilities that we've been able to develop for. So we have our video automatically pre-loaded into the Ovi Store and a number of shortcuts to Thompson Reuters content and, in particular, Reuters.com content pre-loaded into the Ovi Store and it's a different model. You know the Ovi Store allows not only full applications, but RSS content be accessible and that's a big difference so it's really important to us to be working with a broad range of partners: Nokia, RIM [Research in Motion Ltd], Apple, Google, to really understand the strengths and the opportunities of all of these different platforms so we can ensure that we stay ahead of what consumer demand is.
Andy Plesser: Very good. What you think about the new device? What were your impressions that you saw onstage?
Alisa Bowen: I think it's fabulous. I think it's certainly feature packed. There are certainly, you know, a lot of capabilities built in there and what I really admire about Nokia is their ability to transcend the literal capabilities of the technology and really think about what the user experience is. And there are other technology companies who are also very good at that, but I think Nokia, particularly in the US marketplace, hasn't necessarily had a profile that matches their expertise and I'm looking forward to seeing them penetrate this marketplace lost more strongly.
The Reuters.com family of products which is seventeen web sites, globally mobile applications and mobile browsing experiences offline and then also digital out of home is really designed to provide information and news to business professionals, so it fits very neatly in the family of customer segments that Thompson Reuters serves, which is business professionals at large. And our goal is to really provide a broader proposition to business professionals and then allow them to dig into deep niche verticals of high value content that Thompson Reuters is particularly well placed to provide.
Everything from financial services and financial information for people who are involved in the financial services sector through to legal and tax and accounting information. So a small example of that is we recently, last week, launched a small business vertical on Reuters.com. So this is a place where small business owners and operators and entreprenuers can come, find news and information that's relevant to helping them run their business more effectively, and in addition to that we've provided a series a reference informations from our colleagues in Find Law in the legal division that helps people think through some of legal issues and some of the business start up issues that face entreprenuers around how to hire staff, how to write contracts, how to lease space, how to prepare a business plan, how to deal with your tax accountant or your bank manager. So through Reuters.com we're actually able to provide a retail face to the depth and breadth of Reuters content that's primarily designed for b-b marketplace.
Andy Plesser: So it's a gateway to subscription, to the paid business.
Alisa Bowen: Yeah, it's a gateway and it's also a tremendous marketing vehicle for the rest of the firm as we're able to introduce people to the quality content that Thompson Reuters specializes in.