The New York Times and Betaworks announced News.me today.1
Its iPad app appears to resemble Flipboard and Zite, but with a different approach to sourcing the content:
- Flipboard displays articles that people you follow on Twitter or Facebook have posted, or from publishers who have agreed to have their full feeds as “sections”. It’s great to skim through content from sources that you don’t follow very closely elsewhere. For me, that’s Facebook and a bunch of news sites.
- Zite displays articles that are related to what people posted, but that you probably haven’t seen, which is great for sources that you already follow closely (and have therefore already seen most of the links posted there). For me, that’s Twitter.
- News.me appears to include the links that people you follow on Twitter have posted directly, like Flipboard, with ranking and filtering to only show the most popular or relevant stories. It also lets you browse other News.me users and see what the service is recommending to them.
News.me costs $1/week or $35/year with an in-app-purchase subscription, like The Daily.
It also has a paying-publishers mechanism similar to Readability’s, but it only pays2 a whitelisted set of publishers (presumably with whom deals are in place), and only content from those publishers is “reformatted” (using Readability?) in the app. From the FAQ:
While the News.me browser can provide access to just about any web site, the product provides the best reading experience with content from publishers who have licensed News.me to reformat their content for the iPad. News.me pays those publishers for the use of their content, and it recoups those payments through the subscription fee.
It’s an interesting service, especially given its big-name backers. More than anything, I’m curious to see if it will succeed.
If it’s seen primarily as a competitor to Flipboard — which is free — it will be difficult to convince a large number of people to pay for it. News.me will need to be a lot better, or significantly different in everyday usage. (I haven’t used it yet, so I don’t know how different it is.)
And Flipboard is well-equipped for competition, with $50 million in new funding, 32 employees (and growing), a large and devoted userbase, and none of the legacy political or bureaucratic baggage that the major publishers involved with News.me need to bear. (Although I bet we won’t be seeing a New York Times section in Flipboard.)
The best part, to me — except the Instapaper integration in all of these, of course — is that this is a brand new market, created entirely by the iPad, that significantly benefits everyone involved: readers can easily find more content from a wider variety of publishers, publishers get more readers and a potential alternative to advertising revenue, and the market is so large that there’s plenty of space for many services to successfully connect them.
The iPad app isn’t expected to appear on the App Store until tomorrow. This announcement was probably poorly timed: when I saw the headline, I immediately searched for it on the App Store and found nothing. ↩︎
There’s no mention of how much of the subscription price is going to the publishers. Readability pays out 70%. News.me’s payout is presumably lower, since Apple takes 30% up front before News.me has covered any of their own costs. ↩︎