Newspapers on the go - Metro and The Sun
Yesterday I was casting a (very) quick eye over the mobile offerings of The Telegraph and The Times. Today I'm looking at the sites that The Sun and Metro offer to users on-the-go.
Of the sites I looked at, The Sun's was by far the most nakedly commercial.
Sometimes literally so.
Their homepage had a strong focus not just on the news, but on calls to actions to download ringtones, wallpapers and games, which are provided by a partnership with Jamster.
I presume that the [cue pun] paid-for-model of downloading Page 3 girls is targeting the diminishing demographic of men who don't know that you can get free pr0n on the Internet. If The Sun have successfully monetised this niche though, then frankly, fair play to them. I'm not so sure that the upcoming generation of 'bored white man van' will be so easily convinced.
Users are able to rate stories on The Sun mobile site on a sliding scale of 'Poor' to 'Excellent, we love it!'. This is a piece of functionality not available on stories on the main web version of The Sun. As with a lot of the community interaction around The Sun Online, I really liked the way that the ratings encapsulated the spirit of the paper, rather than just being a 'number out of ten'.
Conversely, the mobile site doesn't have any place for the MySun discussion boards attached to stories. Indeed, none of the papers I looked at had user generated comments attached to their stories on the mobile versions of their site.
I know that for some users of The Guardian mobile site this is a constant source of aggravation. Personally, I remain unconvinced that the overall demand to leave comments on websites via web forms whilst out and about on the mobile web is necessarily worth the technical infrastructure investment required.
The content on the print edition of the Metro is purposefully designed to be read on the move, so I was particularly interested to see how they had adapted that to the mobile medium.
The 'Metrosexual' content about dating and sexual advice was very prominent in the navigation. I must confess on first glance I assumed this was simply an 'advertorial' way of getting users to a commercial dating destination. However, the section seems purely editorial, with no direct links to any such service.
With many new generation phones equipped with GPS, I was interested to see what location based services were being offered by newspapers. The answer was very little. Metro did have a localised weather service, but this was based on clicking location text links, or searching for a postcode, town or country, not any automatic choice based on the location of the user. The service is provided in partnership with Weather Underground.
One thing I found very odd was that, at the time I was testing it (April 13th), the banner ads across Metro's mobile site were a campaign promoting BBC News on the mobile web. Leaving aside the "Is this a good use of the Licence Fee?" argument, I was astonished that Metro had taken a campaign from a direct rival competing in the same space.
At some point in the next few weeks I'm planning to look at the re-launched online presence of the London Evening Standard, including their new mobile offering.