Italian daily La Repubblica has launched a new paid version of its iPhone application, providing new content and services. In the eight months since the original app was launched, it has been downloaded by 150,000 users.
New offerings include editorials and in-depth articles from La Repubblica's top journalists, and "the best from the print paper on the debates and analysis surrounding the news."
The new version provides push notifications, alerting the user about breaking news even if the application is closed, or sending them messages when their selected football team scores a goal. Using key words of a reader's choice, the application will collect and save relevant articles that it finds to create a kind of press review.
There is also a geo-location function, offering information on weather, cinema and local happenings in the area in which the user finds themselves.
The app is free to download and the homepage, article previews and some sections of the site are freely available. For full access (after a 14-day trial period) subscriptions are available at €4.99 per month, or €44.99 a year.
More and more papers are developing mobile applications and making these more and more sophisticated. Features such as geo-location which are specific to mobile give news outlets opportunities to provide useful targeted local information, as well as targeted advertising.
Could in come from mobile subscriptions become a key revenue stream for newspapers? As yet, it is a relatively untested field, but there seems to be a general feeling that readers would be more prepared to pay for news on their phones than news online.
Corriere della Sera also charges for its mobile application, as do the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times, which both also have paid-for websites. The Guardian has gone for a different tactic: it charges for download (£2.39) but then content is free. 70,000 people downloaded the app in its first month. Other newspapers, such as the New York Times which recently announced that its app had been downloaded 3 million times, have stuck to free offerings.
Source: La Repubblica press release