“At Hearst Corp., a handful of employees are cranking out what the media company hopes will add up to the next big thing,” Shira Ovide reports for The Wall Street Journal. “Hearst, best known as a publisher of magazines and newspapers, is jumping into the business of developing software applications, or ‘apps,’ for use on Apple Inc.’s iPhone. Hearst is focusing its apps on what it knows best: information, mainly in the realms of sports teams, players and celebrities, but also hobbies and topics, like coffee, Barbie and cupcakes.”
“Hearst eventually expects to offer thousands of apps that pull together news and photos about narrow slices of information. Dozens of applications already are available from Apple, with more expected to roll out over the next year,” Ovide reports. “The apps sell for 99 cents and up for fans of the New York Yankees, Red Sox and other ball clubs, as well as for Rihanna, Taylor Swift, Coldplay and other musicians.”
Ovide reports, “George Kliavkoff, the Hearst executive overseeing the application unit, known as LMK—shorthand for ‘let me know’—said consumers are more willing to open their wallets for news and entertainment for their on-the-go gadgets. ‘Unlike the Web, we’ve always trained people that everything on the mobile device costs money,’ he said. The move is the latest sign of the media industry seeking fresh business ideas for devices such as mobile phones—as well as an effort to prepare for Apple’s iPad tablet computer, which media companies hope will allow them to reawaken their digital ambitions and profits.”
“Apple has been trying to clear its storefront of apps that are deemed of limited function, but Mr. Kliavkoff said Hearst had conversations with the technology company to make sure Hearst’s strategy of multiple apps would pass muster with the notoriously tough restrictions,” Ovide reports. “LMK is weighing other pricing models. Instead of a one-time charge, LMK could charge 20 cents a month and let consumers keep paying for an app until they don’t want it anymore, Mr. Kliavkoff said. LMK also plans to add advertising later.”
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