Saturday mobile edition is 'world first', claims NoW

The News of the World claimed a "world first" this week when it made its first edition a mobile phone version of the paper — available at 10pm on Saturday night.

The NoW has a dedicated team producing the mobile phone edition — which is timed to come out at the same time that the print edition is made available by specialist distributors in central London.

The new mobile edition will cost £1 a week — not including mobile network download charges — and could be a way for the NoW to stem its readership losses.

In the January ABC figures, NoW sales dropped 9.56 per cent year-on-year to 3,426,719.

News of the World assistant editor (digital) Bill Akass said: "It's the first time any newspaper in the world is actually publishing first on a mobile.

"The idea is that you can be in the pub with your mates and find out the big stories breaking on Sunday morning on Saturday night."

He explained that the timing of the release of the first edition is to ensure that rivals are not given a head-start on following up exclusive stories.

As well as news stories, the mobile edition has video content and slideshows.

It also provides ball-by-ball coverage of big sporting fixtures throughout the week provided by a third-party company.

The web edition of the paper — which consists of a round-up off the key stories from the print edition — goes live on the site at around 2am in the morning.

Akass said: "We want our journalism out there reaching as many people as possible in as many formats as possible."

 
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How the News of the World mobile service works

Unlike most WAP or mobile internet news sites, the News of the World's new mobile service works over a bespoke Java application that users must download onto their phone.

A text message containing the letters "NOTW" sent to 60040 prompts an automated reply that provides users with a download link via text message.

The address for the download is unique for each user because it contains embedded information that allows the application to bill the correct mobile account. The News of the World settled on this approach after rejecting more cumbersome methods, such as requiring users to enter a username and password.

"The danger is that it will be the first application that users will have downloaded. It will be an educational process," said William Spencer, one of five in-house mobile producers working on the project.

After a 30-day trial period, a £1 weekly charge will be added to the users' regular mobile network bill.

Network providers' GPRS data transfer charges will also apply.

The service will contain 15 of the News of the World's best stories, along with a football results service, that will include mid-week scores.

About a third of the stories on the service will contain video footage or photo slideshows. Because the service is GPRS-based, downloading large image or video files is significantly slower than on the internet.

To overcome this, the News of the World's mobile producers will reformat the video files to less than 120 kilobytes.

The service contains no archive — only those materials currently "live" will be available to users.

"We didn't want to require any searching because people find it frustrating to use search tools with just their thumb," said Spencer.

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