The BBC is developing an app that will allow its reporters in the field to file video, stills and audio directly into the BBC system from an iPhone or iPad. The software is being adapted for the Apple phones from an existing app used by the BBC and is due to be in use within around a month. As part of a new strategy which will see the broadcaster focus on getting the most out of smartphone technology, it is also aiming to obtain iPhone licenses for existing app Luci Live, allowing reporters to broadcast live from the phone using 3G signal. Martin Turner, head of operations for newsgathering, said developing the software for iPhone was “a logical extension of what the BBC can do already” but added that it was a “significant development”. “Reporters have been using smart phones for a while now but it was never good quality. Now it is beginning to be a realistic possibility to use iPhones and other devices for live reporting, and in the end if you’ve got someone on the scene then you want to be able to use them.” He added that the development was part of a wider strategy at the broadcaster to make better use of smartphones in its field reporting.
The growing popularity of smartphones is proving a double-edged sword for newspaper publishers, with the number of consumers reading more content online almost exactly counterbalanced by a decline in those buying print products, according to a report from Orange. The telecoms company’s study found that 14 percent of people who access the internet on their mobile phones said they read fewer newspapers as a result. On the flipside, 13 percent of respondents said that owning smartphones such as the iPhone had led them to read more newspaper content online. However, the same is not true of all publishing sectors with 16 percent of mobile media users – those accessing the internet via a smartphone – saying they read fewer magazines, but none saying they read more magazine content online. The problem for newspaper publishers is the gap between declining print circulation and revenue and the relatively small revenues from products such as smartphone apps and mobile internet advertising. The Interactive Advertising Bureau puts the UK mobile internet ad market at just under GBP 40m in 2009. Orange’s report points to the potential of mobile commerce, in which it includes the purchasing of apps, but does not provide any insight into revenue generation
Ping – Apple’s new social media network, will allow users to follow friends’ music interests working in a stream of updates similar way to Facebook or Twitter Having cornered the MP3 player, mobile phone and computer tablet markets with the iPod, iPhone and iPad devices respectively, last night Apple announced its latest expansion – into social media – with Ping. Ping will be integrated into Apple’s latest iTunes software update and will enable users, or “Pingers”, to follow musicians, friends and others to see details including what music they’re buying and what concerts they’re attending. Steve Jobs, Apple’s chairman and chief executive, said the information will arrive in a long stream of updates, similar to the way Facebook and Twitter work. “Be as private or as public as you want. The privacy is super-easy to set up,” he said adding that users can choose to automatically accept followers or decide on a follower-by-follower basis – similar sounding controls to those on Twitter. The service is available immediately to more than 160 million iTunes users, Jobs said, and will also be available across the iPhone and iPod Touch ranges.
A new publishing company is betting that readers will bypass electronic readers such as Amazon’s Kindle and Sony’s Reader in favour of reading bite-sized stories on mobile devices they already own. Ether Books will launch at the London Book Fair on Monday, and will offer a catalogue of short stories, essays and poetry initially via Apple’s iPhone and iPod Touch, by authors including Alexander McCall-Smith and Louis de Bernieres. Well over 1 billion mobile phones are expected to be sold worldwide this year, compared with just a few million e-readers. Apple alone has already sold more than 85 million iPhone and iPod touch devices, and has just launched its iPad tablet PCs. “At Ether Books we’ve made the decision to go straight to distributing short works via our iPhone app to devices people already own, are familiar with and are happy to use when they have 10-15 minutes to spare,” Ether Books Digital Director Maureen Scott said
Newspaper outcry prompts BBC Trust to examine initiative
The BBC has postponed plans to release free iPhone news applications after concerns about an unfair market advantage.
A report on BBC News said that the BBC Trust had decided to halt the planned April release of news and sports applications for the Apple handsets, after newspaper publishers claimed that the BBC would unfairly influence the market for news apps.
The BBC Trust will review the plans, and decide whether the apps would violate its public service agreement.The row comes as newspaper publishers seek to capitalise on Apple’s iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad platforms amid slowing sales of print editions.
Major papers such as The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times have announced agreements with Apple to offer special subscription offers formatted for the iPad tablet
Recent media reports claim that the BBC intends to reduce its web operations by as much as a half.
Conflict sparks debate about online censorship and highlights Apple’s control over software platform
The International Federation of the Periodical Press (FIPP) is considering making a complaint to Apple over the computer firm’s request that German publisher Springer censor the naked girls on one of its iPhone apps. Springer-owned tabloid Bild’s “Shake the Bild Girl” app allows iPhone users to undress a model. Each time the user shakes the phone, the girl strips an item of her clothing. While Bild features naked women daily in its pages, Apple ruled that the girls in its iPhone app should wear bikinis. The Association of German Magazine Publishers (VDZ) asked FIPP last week to approach Apple over the issue. FIPP is debating the issue, but has no further comment at the moment. The VDZ chief executive, Wolfgang Fuerstner, has warned that Apple’s move might represent a move towards censorship. Apple asks publishers of general interest apps to respect its US “no nipples” policy. In November, German weekly Stern’s app was dropped from the App Store due to an erotic photo gallery. Apple’s intervention has made it clear to publishers that they find themselves in a new role in a digital world. When Apple announced at the end of February that it would “remove any overtly sexual content from the App Store”, publishers had to follow that request. It is Apple that has final control over its platform, not the publishers.
The Washington Post, which launched a paid news application for Apple’s iPhone on Wednesday, is also looking at other platforms but has no plans to charge for its website, a Post executive said. Goli Sheikholeslami, Post vice president and general manager for digital operations, said the iPhone and iPod Touch application “gives us sort of a sandbox to experiment in and get an idea of what consumers find of value.” The iPhone program, available through Apple’s App Store, costs 1.99 dollars for 12 months and offers breaking news, reporting, analysis, features, blogs and other coverage from the newspaper. With US newspapers facing a decline in print advertising revenue and circulation and a challenge from free news online, publishers have been searching for new ways to make money. Sheikholeslami said the Post was looking at other mobile platforms including Google’s Android and the Blackberry from Canada’s Research in Motion. “We’re definitely looking at the iPad,” she added. As for the Washington Post website, Sheikholeslami said there were no plans to start charging online readers as The Wall Street Journal already does and The New York Times plans to do starting early next year. The New York Times also has an iPhone application but it is currently free. A Times executive said last month that it has been downloaded more than 3.2 million times
The BBC Trust has been urged to block the corporation’s plans to launch phone apps for its news and sport content. The Newspaper Publishers Association (NPA) said that the corporation would “damage the nascent market” for apps. The group said that it would also raise the issues with the the Department of Culture, Media and Sport and MPs on the Media Select Committee. The BBC has said it plans to launch its first news app on the iPhone in April, followed by one for its sport content. It is also planning to develop more apps for its popular on-demand video iPlayer. Several newspapers already offer iPhone apps, including the Independent and the Daily Telegraph – which are free – and the Guardian – which costs GBP 2.39. A spokesperson for the BBC said that its online service licence, granted by the BBC Trust, was “quite explicit in allowing the BBC to repurpose its online content for consumption on mobile devices”. The BBC news app, announced at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, will offer content from the BBC News website including written stories, correspondent blogs and video. A sports app will be released before the World Cup, which starts in June, and will combine content from the BBC Sport website and 5 Live radio. It will allow football fans to watch World Cup matches live on their phone. The corporation said that it would initially focus on building applications for the iPhone but will then focus on developing similar software for Google’s Android operating system and RIM (Blackberry).
The group behind the world’s most popular smartphone operating system – Symbian – is giving away “billions of dollars” worth of code for free.
The Symbian Foundation’s announced that it would make its code open source in 2008 and has now completed the move. It means that any organisation or individual can now use and modify the platform’s underlying source code “for any purpose”. Symbian has shipped in more than 330m mobile phones, the foundation says.
It believes the move will attract new developers to work on the system and help speed up the pace of improvements. “This is the largest open source migration effort ever,” Lee Williams of the Symbian Foundation told BBC News. “It will increase rate of evolution and increase the rate of innovation of the platform.” Ian Fogg, principal analyst at Forrester research, said the move was about Symbian “transitioning from one business model to another” as well as trying to gain “momentum and mindshare” for software that had been overshadowed by the release of Apple’s iPhone and Google Android operating system.
Finnish mobile phone giant Nokia bought the software in 2008 and helped establish the non-profit Symbian Foundation to oversee its development and transition to open source. The foundation includes Nokia, AT&T, LG, Motorola, NTT Docomo, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, STMicroelectronics, Texas Instruments and Vodafone. The group has now released what it calls the Symbian platform as open source code. This platform unites different elements of the Symbian operating system as well as components – in particular, user interfaces – developed by individual members.
Until now, Symbian’s source code was only open to members of the organisation. It can be downloaded from the foundation’s website from 1400 GMT. Mr Williams said that one of the motivations for the move was to speed up the rate at which the 10-year-old platform evolved. “When we chatted to companies who develop third party applications, we found people would spend up to nine months just trying to navigate the intellectual property,” he said.
“That was really hindering the rate of progress.” Opening up the platform would also improve security, he added.
Symbian development is currently dominated by Nokia, but the foundation hoped to reduce the firm’s input to “no more than 50%” by the middle of 2011, said Mr Williams. “We will see a dramatic shift in terms of who is contributing to the platform.” However, said Mr Williams, the foundation would monitor phones using the platform to ensure that they met with minimum standards. Despite being the world’s most popular smart phone operating system, Symbian has been losing the publicity battle, with Google’s Android operating system and Apple’s iPhone dominating recent headlines. “Symbian desperately needs to regain mindshare at the moment,” said Mr Fogg.
“It’s useful for them to say Symbian is now open – Google has done very well out of that.” He also said that the software “may not be as open and free as an outsider might think”. “Almost all of the open source operating systems on mobile phones – Nokia’s Maemo, Google’s Android – typically have proprietary software in them.” For example, Android incorporates Google’s e-mail system Gmail. But Mr Williams denied the move to open source was a marketing move.
“The ideas we are executing ideas came 12-18 months before Android and before the launch of the original iPhone,” Mr Williams told BBC News
Available for about a week for only 79 cents (of a Euro), the’ iMussolini’ iPhone application allows Italians to load up an app on their phones that allows them to hear the Best Speeches of Italian Dictator Benito Mussolini (who so famously ended up dead hanging by his feet in a Milan square at the end of the Second World War, alongside one of his many mistresses). Also available if a biography of ‘Il Duce’ or the ‘Great Leader’ and around 100 examples of his talks and extracts featuring him on video and on sound recordings. All of these are recognised historical archive documents already freely available to the public through libraries or the Internet. However, many Italians are gravely concerned about the success of ‘iMussolini’ as this has led to a wave of nostalgic-like comments for the man on Internet sites and also to many young people discovering Il Duce and his oratory for the first time. The developer of ‘iMussolini’ assures the worls that his iPhone app does not have any political character at all, that it does not celebrate fascism and that it only has a historical value.