Nine months after releasing their iPad application for following the content your Twitter timeline is following, News.me has launched its iPhone application. It wants to be Instagram. For News. While the now very famous “filtered” Instagram has become a social network without ever having a “normal” website, News.me wants to become a social network for news junkies who want to know who is saying what about the story after it breaks.
So why did recently receive ten-times the signups? Was it because the plan is working out? Partly, since Twitter only purchased the social news aggregator Summify in January. While Summify went over your social media feed and created a hourly newslettters you could read as they “happen”, News.me is an entirely different beast. You can now find News.me’s iPhone app on the iTunes App Store.
News.me doesn’t just want to aggregate news in a new format like Flipboard, but also make it far easier to follow relevant stories, something that most social networks including Facebook and Twitter are trying to work out how to do. As part of its mission, News.me’s iPhone app is reminiscent of BuzzFeed, a aggregator of viral news, as VentureBeat’s Ben Popper points out: while you can write your own comment, you can also use reexisting reactions such as “Ha!”, “Wow”, “Sad” and “Really?”
News.me’s Jake Levine told VentureBeat that moving to the iPhone will provide the needed boost to their service since the popular smartphone has a lot more users. Levive said that the are looking to other popular social networks for inspiration and guidance:
We look at what Instagram and Foursquare have been able to accomplish, building a new social network around photos and location. We think news is another high-value category where people want to be able to build a very specific network that has a high signal-to-noise ratio.
Better targeted news aggregation and a better structured reactions structure built around news does sound interesting, but is it that different from other services? With both bigger social networks and other startups trying to be the ultimate place where you find news, News.me is not making its goal any easier to accomplish.
Differentiation will be tricky, since almost all the applications in the category are free and their user experience can only be so different. News.me’s unique “cross-dressing” (as investor Chris Dixon put it) feature that lets you see only the content of a particular Twitter user (such as your future investor) is pretty useful, but the New York Times grown startup will have to make it even more prominent.
On the other hand, Instagram’s specific interface and filters didn’t seem as all that much either, but created a unique experience that is set to grow over to other platforms, such as Windows Phone, Android and finally (as well as hopefully) – the web. To see if News.me is on the right track, download the News.me iPhone application for free on the iTunes App Store.
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