Inkl, a news aggregator that wants to be the Netflix for news, has launched an iOS app for Apple devices in a move that company founder Gautam Mishra sees as increasing opportunities for publishers to make money from mobile.
Previously only a web app, Inkl gives users access to international news publishers in one place, rather than jumping from one website to another.
Publishers featured by Inkl include The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune, LiveMint and The South China Morning Post. Revenue is split 50-50 with most publishers.
Inkl is still quite new to the news scene, having launched its brand last November. Mr Mishra’s vision is to show users that news is worth paying for.
“What we hope to do for publishers is what Netflix has done for TV, where you have millions and millions of people signing up to receive the content,” he said.
“If you look at TV and movies, before Netflix came along, the owners had ways to get people to view content online, but it wasn’t until after Netflix came along that it started generating billions of dollars for the industry.
“Our aim is to achieve a similar outcome for news by aggregating news brands and convincing people to start paying for news online.”
A former strategy director of Fairfax Metro Media, Mr Mishra recognised that publishers around the world were facing two common issues.
“One, you can’t make that much money from advertisements on mobile; two, there’s a limit to how much people are willing to pay for individual news sources,” he said.
Mr Mishra understands the challenges involved in making money for mobile, and says he created Inkl to address this issue.
“If you look forward to future, you will see that more and more people are reading news on mobile, there has to be better solution,” he said.
“The core of the problem is that the amount of consumers on mobile is growing. More and more people are reading news on a mobile platform.”
Mr Mishra says the perceived disparity in the media market between consumers of entertainment and news is inaccurate.
“This idea that people are not willing to pay for news like music and TV, so far we haven’t seen that to be true. We’re seeing conversion rates that are very healthy, that are comparable to other media verticals,” he said.
“So long as you build something that’s engaging, there’s a willingness to pay for good content. People are willing to pay for print, and the willingness to pay for print can be transferred to mobile as well.”
The new iOS app is native to users’ mobile phones, meaning they will no longer need to log onto the website on their phone browsers.
Mr Mishra said the app would improve user experience in three ways.
“One, it loads faster; it runs faster because it’s not sitting on top of the browser. Two, there are push notifications. When we update stories, we can let you know, and you can get to news stories faster,” he said.
“Three, on the website, we’ve taken a simplistic approach to our design, with a limited number of animations. In the app, there’s more animations, and it’s easier to navigate.”
The decision to develop an iOS app was motivated by user feedback – a native mobile phone app was one of the requests of Inkl users.
Inkl is currently finalising its Android app, and is hoping to submit it to Google next week. However, its main priority at the moment is to get the word out about what it is doing.
“I don’t yet know how much we’ll be able to assist the industry. We need still a few more years in market to get a real view of the picture, but it’s an important strategic move for the industry,” Mr Mishra said.