Comment : NPA Wrong To Criticise BBC iPhone App Venture

The National Press Association is clearly unhappy about the launch of a number of news-oriented iPhone Apps by the BBC by April 2010 and this is certainly an opinion that has to be respected.

However, they are likely to be proved wrong not only by the BBC Trust but also by the app market in general as the "news on mobile" sector powers ahead regardless of economics or ethical issues.

Firstly, there is definitely a huge demand for BBC-sourced content as the corporation has already sent cease-and-desist orders to the likes of Camiloo, a developer that came up with a BBC iPlayer app, to comply with the order or face serious trouble.

These applications were paid for as is the Guardian's and while the BBC's mobile applications will be subsidised partly by the license fee, it is likely that down the road, free (and possibly opensourced) versions would have appeared on the App Store.

Indeed, the BBC has been in at least two recent occasions, the essential catalyst that shook things up. First with Freesat, a free-to-air digital satellite television service which it founded as a JV with ITV and has proved to be instrumental in the popularisation of HD content.

Then there's iPlayer, which BBC claims, is getting more than 110 million stream requests per month. iPlayer convinced other players like Sky or Five to launch their own video on demand service.

When the free VoD service was launched, none of them said that the BBC is threatening their revenues and instead they inched along, launched their own services and tried to innovate.

This proves the utility of the BBC in creating and maintaining a healthy and self-sustained ecosystem that is beneficial to all the players.

The same is likely to happen with the BBC iPhone Apps as newspapers will need to surpass themselves to deliver even more exciting services and products. This as one of our readers put it, is simply known as competition.

Our Comments

The NPA's line was still busy after countless attempts. The newspaper sector will have to transform itself and not look for scapegoats like Google or the BBC to hide or excuse their own failings. In what is essentially an open market, they will need to innovate or run the risks of being made obsolete.

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