Vanguard Launches Mobile App. But It’s Not Their Own.

Last year, I wrote about Punch Newspapers subscription-based mobile news service called MobilePunch which attracted a lot of criticism given the fact that it simply makes no sense for users to pay to read news on their mobile phones. What ever happened to advertising revenues?

While I’m not sure if they still charge for their news, the mobile version is currently not accessible via mobile phone, as it displays a ‘HTTP Error 403 Forbidden’ message that reads: “You are not authorized to view this page. Please try loading a different page.”

But whatever the case may be, MobilePunch seems to have a new competition that might force them to rethink their mobile web strategy.

Update: Well, Mobinatrics doesn’t think so. They see “every major Nigerian Newspaper on the Newshunt platform soon such that consumers can toggle between newspapers and seek a second opinion about a news item”, according to Dika Oha, Public Affairs Executive at Mobinatrics.

Vanguard Newspaper, another major news competitor recently launched their own mobile application, powered by NewsHunt, a unique mobile application developed by Indian-based, Eterno Infotech and made available  in Nigeria by Mobinatrics, Nigeria foremost and only mobile publishing business.

The mobile app enables you to read Vanguard Newspaper right from your mobile phone 24/7 on the go and is completely free.

What’s Unique?

The mobile application allows mobile users to communicate with the mobile community in nine different Indian languages effortlessly and without any configuration or structural changes to their handsets.

Mobile users across the globe can send and receive short messages in regional languages such as Hindi, Bengali, Punjabi, Gujarati, Marathi, Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu and English.

How It Works

This app works on the basic WAP/GPRS enabled Blackberry, Nokia, Samsung, Sony Erricson, LG phones and over 1,500 supported devices. To download the mobile newspaper app, you have to visit from your WAP/GPRS enabled mobile phone (GPRS charges may apply).

You can also visit the Vanguard website and request for an SMS (with a link to download the app) be sent to your mobile phone.

Once you download and run the app on your mobile phone, you’ll have to select which categories from Business to Entertainment to Style you would like to receive news. The app will load in seconds and then display the news category you’ve requested for. It’s quite easy to use, convenient and fast.

How It Sucks

Navigation – The mobile app has a navigation problem when you try to scroll through a particular page.

Content – It also does not display news content on the right category. As you can see from the image above, a sports content is being displayed on the Technology section. Perhaps that’s a problem with where the news was initially published.

App Icon – Since it’s not really Vanguard’s mobile app, the NewsHunt logo as an app icon is displayed on the applications menu.

Update 2: Read the official response from Mobinatrics on the comments section.

What’s Cool

On each page, you find an ad banner space (for advertisers) that when you click on, it prepares to call. It then asks if you want to continue to make the call. When you click ‘yes’ or ‘ok’, it instantly helps you to dial and call Vanguard’s advert sales department for enquiries.

My thoughts

Vanguard has demonstrated that reading news on the go should be free-of-charge. They’ve also shown that they understand how the mobile web works, especially as they display advertising on some pages where content is being read.

They currently have only two advertisers, namely Standard Chartered Bank and Jobberman – both of them advertising their mobile versions – though Jobberman could be a barter ad deal, as Jobberman also advertises Vanguard’s mobile app on its website’s blog.

That said, I think they need to build their own mobile app, instead of distributing news content via an existing mobile app platform such as NewsHunt. I’m not sure what it costs to run the NewsHunt mobile app as a service, but Eterno claims to offer a cost advantage by providing an end-to-end solution and management expertise from a single interface.

Update 3: NewsHunt is provided to the publisher for free. Read the comments section for an official response from Mobinatrics.

I’m guessing that this unique mobile application and service would provide increased revenues to Vanguard Newspaper through an enriched customer experience and enhanced value additions.

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