Polished Microsoft News app joins rivals Google and Apple News
The new app and news experience is great for consumers, but is it equally beneficial for publishers?
Apple News, Google News and now Microsoft News. The Redmond, Washington-based company is launching new apps and a range of new desktop news experiences on MSN, the Edge browser and other Microsoft properties.
The new experience uses a mix of publisher partnerships, algorithms and human editorial curation. On first look, these are well-designed apps for both iOS and Android. Like its rivals, Microsoft offers a high degree of customization.
Beyond its distinctive appearance, I see nothing obvious to significantly differentiate it from Apple or Google’s news apps. That doesn’t mean that it’s not worth downloading and using. Indeed, I can immediately tell that I will use it along with the other aggregators.
Perhaps conscious of the double-edged impact of such apps, Microsoft repeatedly underscores, in its post announcing News, the importance of quality journalism and includes numerous quotes about what a great partner it is to publishers:
We believe that a free, well-funded press is a critical part of our social fabric and are proud to partner with the world’s best news brands, offering a business model that gives people access, at no-cost, to trustworthy news and provides a sustainable source of revenue for publishers. In just the past four years we’ve delivered more than $600 million back to our publishers, enabling them to focus on what they do best: quality journalism.
It’s striking to the extent that Microsoft is itself a (meta) news organization. The company says, “There are more than 800 editors working from 50 locations around the world — including editorial newsrooms serving multiple regions in India, Germany, France, Mexico, Canada and Spain.”
Similar to Google’s “full coverage” approach in its recently redesigned News app, Microsoft says that it wants to provide both depth and breadth in the news coverage it offers:
Diversity, in our newsroom and in the publishers we partner with, is a key ingredient of the Microsoft News experience. We carefully compose our pages every day to present multiple sides of a story and consciously curate a wide variety of opinion pieces so that our readers can explore issues via new and different perspectives.
These improved news aggregation apps are welcome and very useful for consumers. But for publishers, it must be a double-edged sword. I know anecdotally that the more time I spend with Google, Apple News and soon Microsoft News, the less time I’m likely to spend in individual publisher apps.