The new app is not designed for current readers of the Times. It is meant to attract an audience that the paper has had trouble tapping – the mobile-first reader. It is the first clear admission from the Times that the strength of its product alone is not enough to counter the growth of mobile consumption.
“I really believe that we will be, and I hate to use the word addicting, but addict a whole new audience to the New York Times,” said executive editor Jill Abramson.
The Times would not release any visuals of the new app, but gave a look to reporters. The app opens into a feed of large pictures with headlines followed by mobile-specific briefs written by editors dedicated to the app. Abramson said that a team of 10 to 15 editors had been assembled to work specifically on the product.
The commitment of a team of editors to the app represents the first journalists at the Times to focus exclusively on a mobile product. That investment along with the price point – about half as much as the full $15 per month digital subscription – positions NYT Now not as an addition to a full subscription, but as a standalone product. (Existing subscribers, however, will be able to use the app without additional cost.)
The app will be updated throughout the day and represent the stories that Times editors deem most important — including stories from a variety of other publications. The examples shown featured stories from Popular Mechanics and the Edmonton Journal.
The main stream is designed to be scrollable while providing the reader with the essential news of the moment. A user can tap on a story to get the full text.
Subscribers will also be able to save stories on the app to read later. Any story available through NYT Now will be available to subscribers online. However users will not have access to all of NYTimes.com.
The idea is to give readers a synopsis of the most important stories across the web as seen by veteran editors at the Times, a “a mini-newsroom for mobile,” said Clifford Levy, a two-time Pultizer prize winning reporter that was tapped to manage the new app.
The app will have ads, Levy said, although he could not elaborate on the format.
The need for a news product tailored to mobile readers — and not newspaper readers — became evident as the Times saw mobile traffic spike, particularly during periods of breaking news. Levy said as much as 65 percent of Times traffic came through mobile when big stories broke.