The R&D group helps anticipate consumer preferences and devise ways of satisfying them; as part of that mission, R&D develops interesting and innovative prototypes based on trends in consumer media. In late 2009 we began looking at how news and information were becoming more personal, and increasingly consumed in a social context. We also had been investigating the use of mobile devices and the potential for new form factors, like tablets, to radically change the way people read the news.
Based on these investigations, we came up with an idea we called "News.me". We developed a concept video (linked below) which described the application, and also anticipated many of the gestures and uses of the iPad, months prior to its release. We then developed a prototype iPad application once the device launched. This prototype was deemed to have commercial possibilities, and the Times Company decided it would be best if this product were to be developed in a setting more typical of VC’s and startups.
Capitalizing on the Company’s existing relationship with betaworks, we learned that the product concept fit well with bit.ly and betaworks, and we were able to craft a deal in which the prototype was purchased in exchange for equity in bit.ly. Additionally, as part of the deal, a team of developers from R&D worked at bit.ly to help bring the product to market. We view this unique arrangement as a new way for large companies to foster an entrepreneurial culture, and further evidence of the Times Company’s commitment to digital innovation and R&D. The News.me application, a betaworks product, is now available in the Apple App Store.
News.me is a different kind of social news experience that shows you not just what your friends are sharing, but what they are reading as well. Have some friends with impeccable taste in music? Find out about new artists from the same places they do. Curious what Steven Johnson or Nicholas Kristof has been reading lately? Browse through their streams and find out. Everyone curates their Twitter experience to reflect their own unique set of interests, and with News.me you can see what their curated view of the world looks like. News.me offers a seamless interface for immersive reading, and uses science to find the most relevant content in every user's stream.
To make News.me a beautiful and simple reading experience, everything one click off a stream is contained within the News.me app. You can read, browse, save for later all within the application.