Apps get serious backing from the Sun, the FT and Keith Weed

Signs that apps are taking over the world are getting stronger every day as major publishers show how seriously they take the genre, with an accelerating stream of launches and success stories.

News International has just launched a paid for iPhone app for its daily celeb gossip column Bizarre in the Sun. At a price of £1.19 a month it will also work on Android phones, and is a clear sign that News International is applying a wide range of paid content formuli.

According to the Sun the Bizarre app will be “updated constantly throughout the day with celebrity news, photos and videos” as well as offering exclusive Twitter posts from the Bizarre team.

And from the almost-ridiculous to the almost-sublime, the Financial Times says its iPad app launched in May has been downloaded by 400,000 people and has since brought in £1 million in ad revenue.

It’s clear that where there’s a strong content need (as with the FT) or entertainment interest (as with the Sun) apps can build decent revenue streams for brands of all kinds.

And as if that weren’t enough, apps have just been enthusiastcally endorsed by Unilever’s chief marketing and communications officer Keith Weed, who proclaims that they will save newspapers.

“The sort of guys I hang out with, the iPad idiots, we're all on them… I used to have a pile of newspapers in the morning but now I flick through my iPad,” he told Brand Republic.

Furthermore the critical mass for take-off seems to be relatively low, judging from new research into 100 million Facebook app downloads.

The research found that when an app surpassed 55 installations a day its popularity soared. Fuelling this process is Facebook’s policy of publishing a list of the current most popular apps which exposes users to global trends, not just local influence through notification of a friend's app download.

According to the researchers, people display a herding instinct over the software plug ins, choosing to add the same programs as others once they reached a critical mass.

The FT must be over that hurdle and it shouldn't take too much effort for Bizarre to reach its 55 a day.

So watch out for a wave of apps from the daily papers in the next year.

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About David O'Reilly

David is a former deputy editor of Campaign and writer for a number of leading titles including Management Today and the Sunday Times. He is a partner in The Editorial Partnership.