July 24, 2014 Last Updated 8:29 am

Facebook earnings have them still talking this morning; Tribune Co. updates its news reading app Newsbeat

The numbers were astounding, revenue up over 60 percent, net income doubled, and so investors are jumping on Facebook’s bandwagon this morning, driving the stock up over 8 percent in pre-market trading.

Facebook now claims to have 1.32 billion monthly users (TNM has an account, but is not a “user”), and is having much of its success via mobile where two-thirds of its revenue is now derived.With revenue at $2.91 billion, it is still small compared to Apple’s quarterly revenue, reported Tuesday, of $37.4 billion, but with its operating margins of 48 percent (non-GAAP 59 percent) means that for every dollar the company is now bringing in, almost half falls to the bottom line.


In the late nineties, when publishing to the Internet began to grow, the question was how does media engage readers? The answer I, and others, used to give was ‘through community’ – pointing to the then leading company online, AOL. The follow-up question was the hard one, how does one do this? The answer varied: commenting, forums, etc. Facebook took the community and engagement concept to the next level and is now dominating mobile advertising. Publishers, who continue to see the world in terms of finite audiences spending limited time with their products, need to rethink their approach, and ultimately their product lines, if they ever hope to win their share of mobile advertising. In 2014, the answer to digital success remains community and engagement.

In less than two weeks, the Tribune Co. will have completed its spin off of its newspaper properties, creating the new Tribune Publishing. The new company will be burdened by debt and may likely begin the process of selling off its newspapers that include the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune.

Newsbeat_iPhone5-W-lgOne asset that will stay with the parent company will be Tribune Digital Ventures, the newly created development arm that in March released Newsbeat Radio. The iPhone app is a standard news feed app with a twist: it reads you the news.

The idea is that commuters, whether driving or taking mass transportation, prefer to listen to the news rather than read it. So the app features both reporters reading their stories to their audience, as well as robotic voices delivering the news.

The advantage of the app, versus some other news reader apps such as Newsie or NowThisNews is that he news stories are far more professionally written than other apps. Some video news apps still look like they are high school projects, with awkward news readers in front of green screens. While I am not a big fan of being read the news, users of the app have given it high marks, with most user complaints about small features that could be improved over time.

Today the app was given an update that added a sleep timer and other features:

What’s New in Version 1.5.0
Tons of new feature improvements!
– Enhanced UI – smooth scrolling of stories to skip
– Pick the topic choices when you ‘like’ a story
– Sleep timer
– You can now browse and see all the news sources we carry
– You can now opt out of breaking news notifications
– You can now block certain categories of news (e.g. sports, politics, etc.)
– You can now choose to get only stories narrated by real people (Note: this will result in lower personalization)
– Top stories get you the most important stories of the day, and, the stories that match your choices

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