GENEVA, SWITZRELAND – Hot, hot, hot is the word for Summly, the app that just fell out of the Apple Store because Yahoo! bought it for several million pounds from its 17-year-old founder. But looking beyond that startling pricetag and the unseemly age of the lucky new multimillionaire, the Summly shift is hugely significant for the news business.
Tweets were too short and articles were too long, but 400-character summaries are just right, is the verdict. News media will learn to produce All the News That Fits, a change from All the News That’s Fit to Print, in order to be summed up and included.
Summly is interested only in popular news media, a label that is based on traffic, so news sites that essentially sell something and add news to make their sites sticky – candy news services – will be part of Summly, and smaller, local news outlets that provide original content will not.
There is a risk that instead of getting smarter, as Summly is supposed to help us become, because we can browse more stuff more quickly, we’ll actually get dumber because we’ll be clueless about the background to the news headlines.
There is also a risk, or maybe it’s an opportunity, that a lot of people will love mobile, which is what Summly is all about, but they’ll also still love 600 or 1,000 or even 10,000 character stories, and they’ll pay for that kind of content. E-magazines or e-books or membership reading clubs for thinking people could see a renaissance.
Seemly, I’d call that.