14 March 2011

News on the iPad - Zite is the early winner

I'm not much of a tech gadget guy, but as a self-confessed news junkie, Zite at first blush seems to be the iPad app I've been looking for.  I've been trying to mold my iPad into a super-news device, and Zite is a big piece.

Basically it's a smart RSS reader that attempts to customize the news you receive based on your preferences and feedback.  The format is crisp and easy on the eye, similar (though not identical) to Flipboard.  I'm surprised at how good the news sources are and I'm stunned that they are offering the app for free.    As they keep learning more about my "preferences" it will be interesting to see what kind of marketing profile I generate, and what they'll actually do with that information, but from a usability and performance standpoint I'm quite impressed.

I'm still looking for a top-notch "breaking news" tool.  That's considerably harder to pull off, though I'm sure it will involve some combination of Global Voices Online people (like Amira Al Hussaini, who just got a great writeup in NYT from Jen Preston), the major journalism-industry sources of breaking news (i.e., the wires, BBC, Al Jazeera, CNN, etc.) and Twitter.  The challenge comes in curating this tool - once news "breaks," you have to identify the most credible sources of information and ping them often for updates.   You also have to be flexible enough to accommodate multiple stories and then manage multiple streams of content with an effective visual interface.  I'm also looking for something that can add radio streams in the background.

By the way, I would pay for these apps and for subscriptions to content.  So there's a business model to be won here.

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