Yesterday Palo Alto-based startup Hawthorne Labs announced Apollo, which they are saying will "finally finish off newspapers". Their iPad-only App will aggregate news from the Web and create a Pandora Radio-type experience for the user, learning what the user likes and delivering new content based on the previous preferences.
I don't have an iPad so all of this is based on what I've read from Hawthorn and from sources online. (I would love to try it to see what's up with it, if someone wants to dump an iPad my way!)
There is something, however, Hawthorn just doesn't get. Where do they think a lot of the content comes from?
A lot of the content it looks like they are going to be presenting in their App is actually generated by... wait for it... newspapers, at it's heart. Granted, the screen shots they show on their sites have things like Yahoo!News and Yahoo!Sports, but a lot of the Yahoo!News content comes from newspaper companies. New York Times, for instance, is a huge source for Yahoo!News.
Blogs, of course, is another one of their primary sources, but what I think they are missing is a lot of bloggers work for newspapers. If newspapers were to go away, these news sources will dry up.
While I agree there are some larger sources of independent bloggers, which are really good, the elimination of the "newspaper voice" will only shrink the choices of news content, thus making news less expressive and less diverse.
Bottom line, however, is something I've wondered for a while. How long before all these "newspaper-killer" apps are going to learn they don't really want to kill off newspapers, but instead should be finding a way to support them, build them up, and help them move to provide good, accessible digital content?
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