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The BBC has been freed to launch smartphone apps by the BBC Trust, which has ruled that the idea does not need to be subjected to a Public Value Test despite concern about market distortion from commercial publishers.
The trust agrees with the BBC that mobile apps are not a significant change from the BBC’s online service license, since the content is already available on the mobile web.
The proposal was for BBC News and BBC Sport apps plus a BBC iPlayer app, which were announced by the BBC at Mobile World Congress in February.
The UK’s eight main national newspaper publishers, grumbling that the launch would impact their ability to publish commercial apps in the nascent mobile marketplace, complained to the trust – as well as to government, prompting the trust to order a suspension and call the proposal in for consideration in March, since when the BBC News app has already clocked a million downloads overseas.
It commissioned a market report from Mediatique which says “the market for Apps could trend towards predominately free provision”.
Highlights from its conclusions…
“It’s likely that a majority of current users accessing BBC Online through Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) devices might download one or more BBC App.”