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Future is mobile

*Yahoo’s recent acquisition of a 17-year-old’s company has unsettled publishers. It paid 30 million dollars to acquire a mobile app developed by teen prodigy Nick D'Aloisio. Summly is a sort of Twitter for the news industry. Using a unique algorithm, it calls ‘genetic’, Summly crunches news reports to 400 characters. The end result is reportedly as good as an article condensed by a human editor.

Yahoo hopes that services like Summly will lead it to a world, where users are increasingly accessing products and services through their mobile devices. Mobile users want information on the go; prefer to scan than engage in a thoughtful read. If the trend holds good most services will be repackaged to address the short attention span of the mobile users. Summly founder reportedly hates anything that scrolls down on your mobile screen. With over a billion smartphones in the world, mobile users are a growing chunk of consumers. To reach out to them, many of Yahoo’s competitors are trying out similar apps.
 
Summly has the potential to further disrupt the newspaper industry, which has already suffered in the transition from print to web. With news reports getting ruthlessly cut to size by third party apps, they may further see a dip in readership. The small screens of mobile phones are also not conducive to run advertisements. The Washington Post says two minute TV news capsules have not taken away the popularity of longer formats like the 60 minutes. There will always be people to read the long, well-researched articles, it hopes. But that is likely to be a niche activity. If you are a sports buff, you are likely to read cricket reports in full detail. For everything else, there would be Summly.

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