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Different times of the day, different devices

May 2nd, 2013

In June 2012, I had the privilege to attend the 4M conference on Journalism and New Media in Montpellier, France. The conference was probably the best-organized event I’ve ever been to, not least because of the flawless simultaneous translation into English.

While it’s been awhile since the event, I would like to share recollections from one of the best sessions at the conference, “Organising flow on mobile media?”, moderated by David Servenay. The speakers of the workshop were Damien Cirotteau, Technical Director of Rue 89, and Frédéric Talec, Marketing Director of Owni.fr.

In the first part of 2012, the increase in mobile data in France was staggering. Mobile Internet usage increased by 1 % in Paris every week. From 2010 to 2012 , tablet users had increased five times.

Peaks of the day

What’s particularly fascinating, there are clear peaks in device usage during the day. In Paris, 7 – 9 a.m. is a peak time for mobile phones, as people are on their way to work. Another peak occurs between 6 – 9 p.m. as people commute back home. Having reached home, 9 -12 p.m. shows a particular increase in tablet use. (Update: AddThis also wrote on the topic recently.)

These findings have led Rue 89 to consider delivering different content at different times of the day, as tablets, of course, are more apt at showing longer content than mobile phones. Longer content and videos could be more prevalent in the later evenings when people are at home.

Tech talk

Four different traits can be found in content produced by Rue 89: social+live+local+video. Today, all these characteristics can be interweaved seamlessly.

As for technologies, Rue89 have gone along the same route as many other media houses. Earlier, they created native apps for mobile devices but found that it is quite costly to support separate iOs, Android and Symbian versions. Therefore, they are currently looking into HTML5, in order to cut production costs.

The situation is nowhere near easy though: with all the different devices around, one can describe the current situation as a Splinternet where it is difficult to support all devices on the market.

Since April 2012, Rue 89 operates only on the web, as they decided to discontinue with their paper edition. They tailor content towards different devices: on small mobile screens, readers are offered shorter stories while longer content is served on larger screens. Occasionally, they may offer specialized content for tablets, but 90 % of their content was originally created for their website. On mobile devices, they may leave some infographics out due to the screen limitations.

Fin(n)ishing touches

The main emphasis of the conference was on the Arab Spring and what lessons it gave for the media. For a Finn, it was fascinating to hear first-hand experiences from countries such as Tunisia, Libya and Egypt, as Northern Europe is obviously a little detached from the Mediterranean.

The arrangements and presentations at Montpellier conference were very high quality and I was very delighted I was asked to speak on data journalism at the event. My slides can be found on Slideshare.

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