How Newsy creates videos fit to view on multiple Android devices

by Brad Spirrison

Newsy's President and Founder, Jim SpencerA favorite app among news junkies like me is Newsy, a video distribution services that provides news and analysis from multiple sources and locations across the globe.

The company’s 2-minute videos can be accessed on iOS, Android and BlackBerry devices. Newsy’s 4+ rating among App Store and Android Market customers helped the app secure considerable promotion from the leading app stores.

In this edition of Meet the Makers we check in with Jim Spencer, Newsy's President and Founder, to discuss how the company approaches Android app development and marketing. Jim shares his thoughts on the pace of innovation in the mobile news-gathering arena, the process of serving video news to multiple form factors, and why it is still worth supporting the app on BlackBerry devices.

Appolicious: For the uninitiated, tell us what Newsy does and who your target market is.

Jim Spencer: Newsy is the only multisource video news service that analyzes coverage from multiple sources around the world – and highlights the key differences in reporting.

Our 2-minute videos are perfect for people on the go looking to catch up on the latest news. Newsy also attracts news junkies seeking a unique perspective or source they wouldn’t have found on their own.

APPO: Newsy has popular and well-received apps for iOS and BlackBerry devices. Tell us about how your Android experience compares to these platforms.

JS: We are thrilled that we launched our Android app last Spring as we’ve experienced steady month over month growth. We are well positioned for the 500,000 Android devices that are activated everyday.

APPO: Your app received promotion from both the App Store and Android Market. Talk about the different marketing approaches you had for launching apps on each platform.

JS: We’ve been fortunate to be included in the App Store’s ‘New & Noteworthy,’ ‘Staff Favorites,’ and ‘What’s Hot’ sections as well as featured in Apple’s ‘Air-Played Enabled Apps’ and as a Featured App at Android Market.

Developing our apps to take full advantage of the devices is paramount – as well being mindful of how users use these devices. This includes the presentation of the video, ease of use (such as navigation, swiping gestures) and sharing features.

In terms of apps that deliver video news, Newsy was an early mover for these platforms.

APPO: How much, if any, direct dialogue did you have with the powers that be at Google and Apple?

JS: We are fortunate to have 4+ star ratings out of 5 on each of those platforms. We are pleased that Apple and Google consider our apps as worthy of their support and promotion.

We have been paying close attention to what our users say they want on the Android and iOS platforms and make sure to stay up to date on developer resources from Google and Apple.

APPO: Talk about the development challenges involved with creating an app that works well on dozens of Android devices carried by multiple cellular companies.

JS: The main challenge with making the Newsy Android application available on so many different devices is ensuring that our content looks excellent on a myriad of resolutions and aspects.

APPO: How have you maintained momentum and driven downloads over time on iOS devices? How does this compare to your strategy for Android?

JS: Delivering a quality app that attains and maintains high ratings, benefiting from word of mouth - virally growing the user base. We update the app regularly with features that our users request.

The Newsy Android app also benefits from viral distribution because of its high ratings and unique content. There is a lot of reach for Android devices, and the growth can happen in a less regimented way.

APPO: How viable of a mobile platform, in your opinion, is BlackBerry these days? Have you considered developing apps for Windows Phone 7 or other mobile environments?

JS: Newsy is proud to have a Blackberry app. Because we are both an app developer and a content provider, it is important for Newsy to have our content available on as many platforms as possible. We are constantly evaluating the marketplace and remain agile so that we can expand to other platforms.

APPO: What are the three biggest things about the mobile media space that keep you up at night? Why?

JS: 1) The amazing speed of change in the marketplace – there’s no time to sleep.

2) Maintaining Newsy’s pace of innovation and delivering the best mobile video news experience possible for our viewers.

3) Blending an exceptional app experience along with remarkable mobile video news content and allowing both the shine.