Struggling news aggregation app Taptu must have thought all of its Christmases had come at once following its acquisition by European newsfeed monetization and RSS company MediaFed and now the pair are planning to take on established reader apps including Flipboard and Pulse.
It’s long been known that news reader apps are operating in a competitive market that’s nearing saturation, and when Taptu was launched in 2010, it quickly found that survival was not going to be easy. Reader apps traditionally struggle with distribution, as well as fighting numerous lawsuits from disgruntled media companies, all while trying to work out how to actually make money. When faced with that kind of market, it seems Taptu’s ending is probably a happy one.
Competing with Flipboard
By welcoming Taptu into the fold, UK-based MediaFed is hoping to bolster its news aggregation services and help it go up against the more established Flipboard, Pulse, Feedly and Prismatic. It’s also following a trend set about a year ago by CNN, who purchased Zite, a news reader tool that the company plans to use as part of its mobile strategy. However, unlike CNN, MediaFed is not a publisher, it’s an advertising network which places content within RSS streams and by acquiring Taptu, which uses RSS a lot in its own algorithms, MediaFed can compete directly with the established players and tap into unclaimed RSS advertising deals across mobiles.
Ashley Harrison, MediaFed CEO, says the acquisition will “create the first global platform to monetize RSS across all digital devices.”
Big Profits Despite Lack of Marketing
MediaFed is somewhat mysterious. It has not invested in any PR and has – perhaps intentionally – kept itself in the shadows. This could be because it wanted to avoid the dreaded Feedburner, which many feel has become stilted. Despite the lack of profile, MediaFed has 125 million users which it has accumulated by building publisher relationships. The company boasts a mobile user base of over 50 million and to date its UK sales alone have tipped $5 million.
In comparison Taptu found its reach severely hampered by its lack of presence in Silicon Valley, and while its search facility was effective and its metamorphosis into a tablet news app was successful to a point, without a Californian base the company’s success was always going to be limited. This buyout then, seems like a Godsend for Taptu.
A Promising Future?
Post-buyout the future looks promising for Taptu and its parent company. Now it doesn’t have to worry about monetizing, Taptu can go all out to grab a share of the market from Flipboard et al as its flexible app ran on iOS, Android, Samsung and Blackberry platforms in more than 100 countries.
It’s widely felt that because it doesn’t need to focus on its own profit, Taptu is ideally placed to monetize the reader app – especially when you consider that Flipboard’s efforts so far have been somewhat underwhelming.
Taptu can, potentially at least, also avoid some of the legal issues that have plagued other reader start-ups when their services have been absorbed by larger companies. Some of the World’s most high-profile publishers already have agreements in place with MediaFed and so would be unlikely to launch any lawsuits against Taptu. Also, Taptu’s own mobile publishing technology Tapform drives content for large publications including Dutch outlet De Pers and The Guardian Environment, all of which could mean the way is clear for MediaFed and its new baby to dominate the reader app space.