Guardian.co.uk is preparing to launch an iPhone app and it’s likely to charge for it, paidContent:UK has learned.
Guardian News & Media confirmed an app is “in the pipeline” and digital director Emily Bell told us: “It’s still in development, but we are working on an app which I can’t give you too much more detail on at the moment, although we are likely to charge.”
She added that getting apps into the app store is an “unpredictable business”, quite reasonably making a launch date difficult to give; The Spectator’s paid-for iPhone app took three months to get clearance from Apple.
So while the main Guardian.co.uk website will remain free (Bell recently reacted strongly in rejecting a pay wall for Guardian.co.uk), it appears that its iPhone app itself will be paid-for, unlike several Guardian rivals.
Staff at GNM have been testing out the app, which is in a very private beta phase, and editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger appeared to give the game away in a curious (and now deleted) tweet that was apparently intended as a direct message rather than a public tweet: “We have done one! And were charging. I have beta version.”
It might be regarded a leader in terms of web innovation and sheer audience size, but Guardian.co.uk is lagging behind its national newspaper website peers Telegraph.co.uk and Independent.co.uk in the smartphone stakes.
They both have iPhone apps and a developer recently highlighted the lack of Guardian apps by making his own Android app (via Journalism.co.uk), Guardian Anywhere, using the site’s extensive content APIs. GNM relaunched its mobile-optimised site in February.
Disclosure: paidContent:UK’s parent company ContentNext is a wholly owned subsidiary of Guardian News & Media.