Hey, you know how you don’t pay anything for checking out the news stories your friends share on Twitter? Well, the New York Times and Betaworks’ Bitly would like to change that with News.me, a social news aggregator for the iPad that went live the App Store today.
News.me takes the news stories posted by the people you follow on Twitter, filters them based on how often the stories are clicked and shared, and then presents the stories on an interface that, if it could speak, would do so with an affected accent.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with the idea of a subscription-based social news aggregator, but it is unclear if users will be willing to overlook free competitors like Flipboard and pay $0.99 for a subscription that only lasts a week. A year-long subscription is $34.99, a price that covers “the costs of licensing content from The New York Times, AP, Business Insider, Gawker and more.” But not, apparently, a full subscription to the Times, online or otherwise.
And isn’t the content from these sites mostly free? Why should users subsidize the licensing process for what appears to be relatively little added value?
What is clear is that the Times is scrambling to find ways to cash in on its bizarre and probably traffic-hurting paywall, which contains large loopholes for Twitter users and pretty much everyone else. If the Gray Lady thinks that News.me will close that loophole on the social web, she’s got another think comin’.
Full disclosure: VentureBeat content is licensed to appear on News.me.
VB’s research team is studying mobile user acquisition:
Chime in here, and we’ll share the results