Belfast Telegraph

Historic week as Tele makes debut on small screen

By Paul Connolly

It’s been another significant week at the Belfast Telegraph. The newspaper’s iPad and iPhone editions launched on Tuesday, the first proper such initiative by a regional newspaper in the British Isles

I say ‘proper’ because, while there are representations of other regional and, indeed, national Dublin papers available on the iPad, these are effectively photographs of the print edition pages of those papers.

They are, in the jargon, PDF-viewers, mostly of historic editions, and not true live iPad ‘apps’ (applications).

Expect a flood of proper iPad editions later in the year, because Apple is now pushing out its own template for newspaper editions on the iPad (we developed our own).

And as little ‘tablet’ computers — like the Blackberry Playbook and Motorola Xoom — become more popular, you will likely see proper newspaper apps pop up everywhere courtesy of Google’s Android software.

Provided, of course, that there is a market for them and also that revenue can flow from that market. For the newspaper industry, that’s the rub. We need to replace declining print revenues with other sources of income.

Newspaper apps will certainly provide a rich and handy content stream for users. Will they produce enough revenue for newspaper publishers? We should know the answer in the next year or so.

This week’s launches follow a long Tele tradition of innovation, including the launch of our website in 1999 and our video services in 2007.

Now we have appointed Ireland’s first dedicated iPad journalist — Thomas Hawkins — who works to make the iPad version available from 5am each day and updated again around 11am.

The £3.99-a-month iPad app is almost the print paper in miniature, with almost every news, business, feature and sport article, and family notices, available with the swoosh of a finger. More functionality will be added soon.

The £1.79 iPhone app is somewhat different, concentrating on breaking news and entertainment and in a mobile-friendly format with more affinity to a website than the print edition.

The initiative is part of the Telegraph’s growing transformation into a multi-platform content provider that includes print, online, and mobile.

While traditional print sales are declining, our reach is actually growing. Independently audited figures show that our print and digital products reach a daily audience in Northern Ireland alone of 297,000 people.

The iPad and iPhone editions are proper editions with their own personalities and we expect readers to interact with them in the normal way.

Please feel free to praise, criticise, moan and suggest improvements. I know you won’t be behind the door about expressing your opinion.

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