Trying to figure out which news apps are the most popular with mobile users is a daunting task. Like all measurements, these change according to who is measuring and how the measurements are being taken. If one measures just unique visitors, dedicated news sites don’t fare very well.For example, below is a list of top mobile apps in the US. This is year-old data, but the most reputable we have until Comscore counts again. Unsurprisingly, there’s not a traditional news app in the top 25. And if you ask consumers where they are getting news, they’ll tell you Facebook , YouTube and Twitter, except for specific news that comes from Yahoo Stocks, the Yahoo Weather Widget, and the Weather Channel. The news sites are posting their content to these top sites to capture their traffic.
But now look down at this list of the top US news apps from the Google Play store. These are “real,” or pure new sites, and the typical news sites, are there — Yahoo, CNN, Fox, Buzzfeed, NBC, BBC, and the Guardian. Notice the absence of the New York Times here. Because Android controls the mobile market in sheer numbers, and because these apps are free, we can guesstimate that these apps have some popularity outside the US as well. It would be safe to extrapolate the IOS picture from these apps, with the possible exception of the Google sites.
A third count shows the top smartphone apps at the beginning of 2015. Once again, not a traditional news app in the bunch. We again draw the conclusion that people are getting their news from Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Twitter, with a bit of Google +, which is very popular outside the US, thrown in.
Our determination is that traditional news publishers are behind the power curve, and that publishing articles to Facebook and links to Twitter, Instagram and YouTube is catching on. Nevertheless, it’s not time for publishers to throw in the towel on their own sites just yet. What they must do is place the emphasis on shareable content that can live on and off the social streams. It’s important that Facebook’s walled garden not be the only news source on the internet, especially in countries where it is either banned or not widely used.