How will media companies react to changing U.S. smartphone market?

Almost 30 percent of U.S. mobile phone users now own a smartphone, reports market researcher the Nielsen Company. The Blackberry and Apple’s iPhone each have a market share of 27 percent, with Google’s Android operating system coming in third at 22 percent.

The battle over the smartphone market appears far from settled. Of those thinking about getting a smartphone, a fourth are not sure which operating system they will chose. Especially older users haven’t made up their minds yet.

Many media companies have built mobile apps to reach smartphone users. The question for them, of course, is whether to build multiple versions of their mobile applications optimized for each of the smartphone operating systems. Apple, for example, doesn’t support Flash on its mobile devices.

Building multiple version of the same application obviously isn’t very resource-effective. In last week’s #wjchat, a weekly twitter chat among web journalists, I reposted what Staci Baird aka @girljournalist said: “We need platform agnostic content strategies so we’re prepared for the next big thing.” Other participants disagreed:


I realized I hadn’t expressed myself very clearly: I didn’t mean content that ignores the features and strengths of different platforms such as mobile or tablets. I firmly believe that journalists and newsrooms should take advantage of the different consumption experiences across different platforms.

Instead of “platform agnostic,” I should’ve said “compatible within one medium across different devices.” The web analogy would be having your website display across different browsers. Newsrooms don’t have resources to produce half a dozen different mobile apps.

Amy Webb, head of Webb Media consulting company, suggested at a recent presentation that media companies should use feed-based software that displays their content well regardless of a user’s platform. That might a way to address this issue. What do you think?

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