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Rise of the Mobile Newspaper

Lauren Eichmann

Where do you get your news?With the rise of mobile technologies, more people are using their cell phones like never before. After all, there are tens of thousands of apps just for the iPhone alone, and mobile commerce is seeing increased traction. Just take the Sears mobile Web site as an example: a team leader said the company sold a $3,000 lawnmower on a mobile device.

In fact, an eMarketer report indicates that  80% of respondents in a smartphone usage study said they use their mobile device to access the Internet -- making it the No. 1 smartphone content activity, more than camera and e-mail. So with mobile devices making it easier to shop, easier to engage in social networks and download an app for just about anything, how are mobile devices changing the role of the traditional print newspaper?

There's a lot of research out there that tries to gauge just how consumers are using it to access news.

For example, CellSigns, a company that says it has been "tracking mobile usage of newspapers and publishers since 2006," indicates a surge in consumer demand for "ease of access." Market researcher comScore also reports that the number of people using mobile devices to access news and information in the U.S. more than doubled from January 2008 to January 2009 (a 107% year-over-year change). Compared to other activities for mobile device access, however, the comScore numbers show that accessing news isn't growing as much as the other categories: visited a social networking site or blog (427%); traded stocks or accessed a financial account (188%); accessed movie information (185%); accessed business directories (161%); accessed entertainment news (160%).

While accessing the Internet on your mobile phone to read the news may not seem revoluntary, it's certainly changing the newspaper industry. A newspaper without an online version is hard to come by these days (and many print newspapers are being replaced by only its online version). Given the shift from print to digital, it's a logical step for the computer-accessed news to be replaced by the mobile newspaper. Right now most newspapers do have a mobile-optimized Web site, and accessing it on a phone is easy -- and free.

So do you use your phone to access news? Is it a replacement to the print newspaper, or other news sources?