Smartphone apps, dumb advertising

I just installed the new TIME Mobile for Android application and the first thing I noticed was a totally wrong advertisement.

That reminded me: The first thing I saw when I loaded The New York Times Android app a couple of months ago also was a totally wrong ad.

And it’s still there: Every time I read a story.

My phone is smarter than that, especially if the applications are as smart (and intrusive) as they claim to be. But apparently not.

I sense a trend here: Smart media companies putting out “smartphone” apps with dumb ads. I wonder if they’re making the same mistakes on the iPhone side?

So what is TIME trying in vain to sell me on its Android app? Why, an iPhone app for its sister publication, CNN/Money! Dumb.

And how is the Times annoying me with the same ad over and over? By repeatedly presenting an ad for something I WANT, but can’t have: A home subscription to the Times. Follow that ad’s link, type in my zip code, and I get a rejection notice.

Only my love of irony (and the replacement cost) keeps me from throwing the phone across the room.

I just uninstalled and reinstalled the Times app to confirm my recollection of the first of a half-dozen Big Brotherish messages that greeted me when I installed it:

This application has access to the following:

Your location

fine (GPS) location

If that’s the case, you’d think something behind the scenes could check my location and offer to sell me something other than an unavailable home subscription.

The install warnings say the application also has access to “Services that cost you money; directly call phone numbers.” I’m still not sure what that means, but I guess I trust The New York Times.

Like I said, irony is a hobby of mine.

The news apps for the Droid annoy me in  other ways, enough to send me back to the Droid’s Web browser and the “mobile” version of the news organizations’ Web sites. For one thing, the Web version offers me more opportunity to enlarge the size of the type I’m reading. It also takes advantage of the Droid’s horizontal mode

Also, I’m a bookmark addict, using the “delicious.com” bookmarking service as http://delicious.com/bstepno to post hundreds (OK, thousands) of links to articles I’ve read, or feel guilty for not reading, or want my students to feel guilty for not reading.

The Droid offers a handy “Share This” button, with Delicious as one of the options (along with e-mail, Twitter and blogging engines), but some of these apps don’t implement Delicious sharing correctly. For example, the Times and USA Today apps plug both a story headline and URL into the “URL” field of the “Save to Delicious” screen, just they way they do when you “share” via Twitter or e-mail. That isn’t going to work with Delicious, which has separate fields for URL, title, notes and keywords. It forces me to cut, paste and edit, and I don’t always have time.

A related annoyance: The apps don’t allow me to copy a random paragraph from a story and paste it into a blog post or Delicious bookmark summary. “Sharing” means “share the headline we gave you, and that’s all.”

The Result: I’m sharing fewer stories from the Droid, more from my laptop, except when I switch to the Droid’s Web browser and the news sites’ “mobile” versions instead of the publications’ custom apps.

The Worry: As publications erect “paywalls” on their Web sites and make their Android, iPhone and iPad apps the 21st century equivalent of paid subscriptions, these news providers will take away the freedom to copy and quote easily that I (as an educator and blogger) have enjoyed for the past decade.

The good news: Buried in the last paragraph of today’s story about “jailbreaking” iPhones was some good news on the freedom to quote: “In addition to the decision on jailbreaking, the Library of Congress also granted an exception to artists who remix copy-protected video content for noncommercial work…”
USA Today also buried that news, but hits closer to home, saying the ruling will “allow college professors, film students and documentary filmmakers to break copy-protection measures on DVDs so they can embed clips for educational purposes, criticism, commentary and noncommercial videos.”
That sounds like I can feel guilt-free when I cut and paste from DVDs of movies for the course I’m planning next spring semester, inspired by the “Image of the Journalist in Popular Culture” project. Yay!

mild-mannered reporter who fell deeper into computers and the Web during three trips through graduate school in the 1980s and 1990s, then began teaching journalism, media studies and Web production, most recently as a faculty member at Radford University.

Posted in News, Newspapers, smartphones, Tablets & eBook Readers, usability, WebDesign
One comment on “Smartphone apps, dumb advertising
  1. martin smith says:

    Interesting and nice Blog

    If you want any more information about paperless, pop on to my blog, it looks at the paperless systems in a slightly different way or if want any info drop us comment.

    http://spapaperlessproject.wordpress.com

    martin smith

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