About Me

  • I've spent more than 25 years at the intersection of traditional and digital journalism. I've helped to invent ways to read and interact with the news and advertising on computer screens and iPads, and before that, I wrote news stories on typewriters and six-ply paper. I co-founded WashingtonPost.com and hyperlocal pioneers Backfence.com and GrowthSpur; served as editor of Philly.com; taught media entrepreneurship at the University of Maryland; and have done product-development and strategy consulting for all sorts of media and Internet companies and startups. You can read more about me here.

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March 25, 2011



Mark: Do you see "apps" as a fad for news consumption? Seems like browser based version optimized for the platform could be as good in most cases if people can get over "there's an app for that."

-- jack lail

Mark Potts

Good question, Jack. As I said in the post, my trouble with most apps is that there's a great web site by the same publisher a touch away--and usually it's better. There are very, very few media apps that I use as replacements for their Web equivalents on the iPad (the superb MLB app is about the only one I can think of, if that even counts as a media app). In most cases, I use the app a couple of times, out of novelty, then go back to the superior Web version.

So I agree: An optimized browser-based version seems like a perfectly fine solution for most publishers. If you really feel like you have to have an app, then private-label a Zite or Flipboard--or design an app that truly brings real value to the iPad experience (a la MLB). Otherwise, optimize your Web site for iOS (iPhone, too) and spend the money you save on better content for all readers.

Julie Kinzer

Mr. Potts,
My name is Julie Kinzer, I'm a Journalism Grad student at American University. I'm taking a class on business journalism and I really do enjoy reading your blog. I've learned a lot about the digital media world from reading some of your posts. Like many broke students like myself I do not have the advantage of an Ipad, Iphone and may not purchase one in the future do to the costs and the added expense of online and phone services. Do you believe that not having any Apps or not owning an Ipad, Iphone is a disadvantage for most journalists and do you think that it will eventually become a requirement in the future? Thanks.
Julie Kinzer

Mark Potts

The same questions were raised about computers and cell phones about 15 years ago, and look where we are now. I think we're still very much in the early innings of iPads/tablets (and iPhones/smartphones).

The iPad is just a year old and still making its way into the mainstream; iPhones are a bit more ubiquitous, but still hardly commonplace. I think that will change over time—Apple sold 15 million iPads last year and is predicted to sell 50-60 million this year, so you can see them growing in the marketplace. For many of us, the iPad is already a laptop replacement—cheaper and lighter. I think in 3-5 years tablets and smartphones will be very much the norm. They certainly aren't going away.

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