Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Tackable launches custom social media and news app for MediaNews Group in the Bay Area

Bay Area tech start-up Tackable has launched an interesting, if somewhat frustrating, new social media news app for their partners at MediaNews Group, the owners of the San Jose Mercury News, Contra Costa Times and Oakland Tribune. (Disclosure: I worked for the CCT newspaper group before its acquisition by MediaNews.)
TapIn Bay Area is a free app for the iPad that can take advantage of the newspaper chain's wide distribution in the area, with its papers in much of the area other than San Francisco itself.

The app promises news, weather, events, movie listings, and other information, as well as "local deals".

"The app, developed in collaboration with California Newspapers Partnership and a local start-up Tackable, plots news, coupons, events, deals, photos, hiking trails, and featured video into an exploratory experience," Steve Rossi, CEO of CNP, said in the San Jose Mercury News's own story on the app.

The app is free, but clearly states that monthly subscription of $4.99 will be required in the future, but does not say exactly when.

Gigaom's Mathew Ingram wrote a good piece on the app on their site, so there is no reason to go through the particulars again here.

What frustrated me about the app, however, was the idea that I would be open to sharing my information through the registration process, knowing that whatever benefits I would get would eventually go away if I chose not to subscribe later on. That information I provides Tackable will stay with them forever, so would I really be so stupid as to sign on to something like this?

Well, clearly many will. I spoke to someone just the other day that didn't even bat an eye over the thought of handing over their contact information in exchange for a coupon to a restaurant they liked. No matter how much we all know we should guard our personal information, almost any promise of a benefit is enough to get us to hand over that email address.

My concern here is the same as what I wrote about concerning replica editions: the tendency on the part of newspaper publishers who show a huge amount of disrespect towards their readers. (Reading the San Jose Mercury News story about their own app, for example, left my monitor littered with pop-up ads, making me wonder whether the new media team considers is sensitive to this issue.)

This new app from the start-up Tackable was certainly an interesting surprise. The company's more anticipated iPhone app involves its mobile photojournalism platform.
Tackable is a mobile photojournalism platform launching in 2011 across 34 newspapers in the San Francisco Bay Area. Reporters and editors create photo assignments, which readers complete using their smartphones. Readers also send in live, breaking news photos, helping reporters write better articles, faster. – Tackable website.
But Tackable has already launched a sort of prototype app for The Spartan Daily, the student newspaper of San Jose State University.

The idea behind the app is to empower citizen journalists to submit news and photographs to the paper, as well as to act as a source of news and information itself through crowd sourced information.

Spartan Daily is a free download and will let you understand the idea behind the app.