India is a complex market in every aspect. There are 430 million Internet users (the bulk of whom access it primarily on mobile devices), and more than 10 major languages are spoken.
For News Republic India and other media companies, a key challenge is to produce Web sites and channels in one or more local languages besides English.
Most of the English-speaking population in India already uses the Internet. This means regional languages represent the next area of growth, especially in tier 2, 3, and 4 cities.
News Republic India is a news aggregation app created for Indian users. It provide news from various sources around the world in a format that is most suitable for low-end handsets and limited Internet connectivity — two common obstacles for delivering content to mobile device users.
While the potential for growth in regional language markets presents a major opportunity, there are multiple challenges in tackling this space:
- Mobile Internet connectivity is still patchy — not just in tier 2, 3, and 4 towns, but even in larger metro areas.
- Most people still access the Internet on low-end phones.
- Most regional language sites are based in smaller towns, where it can be a challenge to find staff with top technical skills.
- We are still figuring out how to achieve monetisation on mobile.
Some of these issues are addressed by a new breed of apps — news aggregators, which can scale up fast with centralised technical resources, so that media houses can be assured of the reach of their content.
At News Republic India, a high-quality algorithm supports its back-end and 50,000 or more daily articles. Users enjoy a unique nano-casted news experience. The app allows the visibility of the articles at various positions on the phone, allowing flexibility for all types of phone users.
Some other important app features include:
- Offline reading: This is the single biggest reason for our success. With much of the Internet connectivity in India unreliable, we have a feature that allows users to save news stories to read offline. A push notification shows the offline articles available, with our algorithm working in a way that provides the most recent articles.
- Lock screen reading: Provides the ability to read news even when the device is locked. After the story is read, the app sends the user back to the main article.
- Segmented news push notifications: This allows for customisation of content. For example, a user reading football news will only receive football-related push notifications and not others.
- Special editions and reports: Special reports are sent every evening, summing up the events of the day. This is more critical during special events, when a collage of interesting pictures is created and placed at the top of news articles every evening.
We also keep audiences engaged with a live blog. Our editorial team posts a live timeline during any important events, such as elections, to give readers a minute-by-minute update.
Strategic use of social media further strengthens the success of our app. Simple short videos are created about complex topics for our young readers. In this way, we attempt to orient them towards serious news without taking too much of their time.