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Thomson Reuters Launches BlackBerry, iPhone Apps; First Big Step In $1 Billion Multimedia Investment

imageReuters lags news-service rivals AP and Bloomberg in releasing mobile apps, but the company plans to spend heavily to make up for any lost time. On Monday, the UK news services company will release its Thomson Reuters (NSDQ: TRIN) News Pro app for the iPhone and Blackberry. The company has been in cost-cutting mode since last fall’s global financial collapse, Chris Ahearn (pictured, right), Thomson Reuters’ president of media, told paidContent that the company was still moving forward on Thomson Reuters Markets CEO Devin Wenig’s promise to invest $1 billion in building up its multimedia capabilities. That push revolves around ramping up its video capabilities for both TV and the web.

Balancing act: All three major news services’ subscription businesses are hurting to some extent. And so, all three have been beefing up their multimedia offerings. Both AP and Bloomberg — which recently inked a deal that sends the former’s content to the latter — focused their multimedia efforts as a way of broadening their consumer appeal with their mobile apps. In particular, the AP hopes to use multimedia as way to carve out an e-commerce business. Thomson Reuters’ approach is more of a balancing act between those who rely on strictly financial and the general business professional. The effort is a long term one. And while last week’s Q1 results were largely positive — profits and revenues rose by double digits — the media segment fell 18 percent, meaning that the business needs to quickly develop new revenue streams. — Subscription/ad rev hybrid: I spoke to both Ahearn and Alisa Bowen, Thomson Reuters’ SVP, head of consumer publishing, after testing out the iPhone app last week. While both apps are being released free to BlackBerry and iPhone users, the company wants to turn them into products that generate both subscription and advertising revenue. The subscription part is at least several months down the road, while the advertising aspect is open for business on day one. For the first day or so, the apps will only carry house ads, Ahearn and Bowen said. More about the apps’ specific features after the jump.

Different apps for different audiences: The Thomson Reuters News Pro app has different characteristics for each of the two devices. The BlackBerry app is more text-centric, while the iPhone places more emphasis on the video and photo features. Ahearn: “The iPhone app is targeted to all business professionals, not just financial consumers, or users in legal or health and science. It’s for Thomson Reuters professional audience writ large.” He says the company will roll out a number of other products this year. “You