Technology giants including Apple, Facebook, Snapchat and now Google want to take charge of how we get and see news on our phones.
Google on Wednesday was the latest company to announce a news-focused tool. It is designed to speed up how fast stories appear on a phone’s screen after a Google search. It’s not widely available yet, but could emerge as a key source of traffic and ad revenue for publishers, and not just news providers, as people increasingly rely on their handheld gadgets.
Google is following several other trendsetters that already have put their own twists on how news flows through phones. Facebook in May started testing “Instant Articles,” which load news stories faster from a handful of publishers, like the New York Times, BuzzFeed and the Washington Post, inside the social network’s mobile app.
Apple’s News app, which came automatically built-in to the latest version of its mobile operating system released last month, has stories from dozens of media brands. The Discover feature of disappearing-messages app Snapchat, launched in January, currently has stories and video from 14 different media brands, including CNN, Mashable, BuzzFeed, People and Vice.
Phones and tablets are more and more important to publishers, but stories and video can take several seconds to load on the mobile web, to the exasperation of impatient readers and revenue-starved publishers that may lose an opportunity to sell ads. Out of 51 top digital news outlets, which included video-heavy sites like Vice, online arms of traditional newspapers and digital-only brands like Slate, only nine had a bigger audience on personal computers than on phones or tablets, according to the Pew Research Center. If stories or video take too long to load, users could be turned off.