As the old cliché goes, timing is everything. Credit mdog.com with some very good timing.
Just days ago, a report came out stating that the circulations at the nation’s largest newspapers took a nosedive over the last six months, one of the steepest on record. The average daily circulation for 770 newspapers was 2.8 percent lower for a six-month period ending Sept. 30 than in the same period in 2005.
Some newspapers did far worse. The Los Angeles Times was down eight percent in its daily circulation and the Boston Globe, which former GE chairman Jack Welch is reportedly interested in buying, lost 6.7 percent of its daily circulation.
Blame was laid squarely on the Internet, as more and more users shift online to get their news. Cue mdog.com. The online content service debuts this week with news streams from 200 news sources, including the major newspapers, and streams the news to Web-enabled mobile devices, such as Blackberrys, Treos and Motorola Q phones.
The technology behind mdog.com has been used by other business Web sites, including WSJ.com and Forbes.com, to create their own private mobile editions.
Subscribers select the sources they want from the mdog.com Web site, and it does the rest. It removes everything but the text of the news itself, which it then reformats for the device and sends it down to the subscriber.
In addition to offering access to business publications, mdog.com offers feeds from sports, entertainment and travel Web sites, email and blogs.
Keith Gerard, founder and president of mdog.com, said the service helps serve the need for immediate news. “The majority of these publications do not have any mobile version. What we’ve done is provide them with a mobile app that’s relevant to users of mobile devices,” he said.
Mdog.com currently offers 60 publications and is adding 25 to 30 per week. It will eventually offer 200 publications, said Gerard.
Mdog.com makes its money by inserting its own banner ads in the stories, using a click through model. Many of these ads will be offers for mobile users, such as coupons they can redeem while out and about.
Roger Kay, president of market research firm Endpoint Technologies, said this is an idea whose time has been long in coming. “I think that I was speculating about this capability with other people back in the early 90s,” he said.
Kay said there is definitely an audience for this kind of content, but so far no one has done it right. “The content distributors have been remarkably bad at reformatting content for small screen devices,” he said.