Bloomberg’s BusinessWeek app launches to mixed reviews

Bloomberg Businessweek announced the launch of a beta version of its new Businessweek iPad app, available as an iTunes subscription for $2.99/month.

Pro

Dan Frommer is a pretty glowing in his admiration of the app, actually impressed with Bloomberg Businessweek’s new iPad app.

Bigger picture: While you could say that weekly business magazines are already irrelevant in the Twitter era, Bloomberg is at least spending money on making good products. (That’s the beauty of having a cash-printing terminal business with which to fund Bloomberg TV, magazines, etc.)

Con

TechCrunch’s Erick Schonfield is underwhelmed, calling the app nothing more than a digital reproduction of the magazine.

But with the iPad app, I am not getting all of that. It is nothing more than a digital reproduction of the print magazine. The news changes only once a week. In a world where news changes every minute, that lag time is one legacy you don’t want to bring over from print. And Businessweek doesn’t have to either. It’s website changes every day, and there is no reason those articles shouldn’t show up in the iPad app. Even the search function in the app only works for iPad issues in your archives. It doesn’t return results from the website.

By making its iPad app less informative than its website, Bloomberg Businessweek is signaling to readers that if they want to stay up to date they will be better off simply going to the website, which is free. So Bloomberg Businessweek thinks readers will want to pay $2.99 a month for less information that is presented in a prettier format. What readers end up paying for, essentially, is the tablet experience and bigger fonts.

Bloomberg’s app for Businessweek joins a host of other magazines trying to recreate themselves in the age of social media, apps, and mobile devices. From the Financial Times to Elle to Popular Science, publishers are signing on to Apple’s subscription service (or intend to).

Brokers keep developing tools but can investors handle them?

Good piece by David Bogoslaw at Bloomberg Businessweek on all the new technology/trading development going on in the online brokerage space.  It’s a well-researched piece and does a great job of going through each online brokerage (including the smaller startups) and outline what they’ve been working on.

Some of the interesting functionality profiled in the article includes:

  • shareable, backtestable stock screeners (TradeKing)
  • expanded 3rd party research (RiskMetrics available at Fidelity, Seeking Alpha at E*Trade, Ned Davis at Schwab)
  • Exceptional volume scanners (LiveAction at tradeMONSTER polls for unusual activity in the options market)
  • more complicated buy/sell triggers (a few brokers)
  • social media integration (most of them)

The Bloomberg Businessweek article ends with

With individual investors still spooked by the market meltdown of 2008-09 and by the sudden plunge in major indexes on May 6, the advanced tools that online brokers are providing could be a carrot that draws more people back to stocks—and gets them back in the habit of trading online.

Online brokerages misguided

I’m not so sure about this.  The online brokerages continue to develop tools and underinvest in education.  It makes sense — frequent traders are their bread and butter and in a commoditized space of trading, tools are one way (services are another) that help to differentiate.

Still, the average investor will never use these advancement and even if he/she could figure out how to use them, he still can’t answer whyAutomated professional-grade advice is what these platforms should be advancing if they want to really capitalize accounts leaving traditional brokerages.

Source: Online Brokers Upgrade Retail Investor Tools (Bloomberg Businessweek)

photo courtesy of D’Arcy Norman

Reuters Insider: good for financial content but not sure about investors

VOD for investors

Thomson Reuters unveiled its Reuters Insider product today. Geared towards clients of investment terminals, Insider is essentially an aggregator of video content, sucking in both Reuters proprietary content and that from outside partners.  It’s going to be like a professional version of Seeking Alpha — but with video, not text.

Trader You Tube?  Not quite

But far from being the trader You Tube (a la the FT), it’s a shot across the Bloomberg’s bow in the highly-competitive terminal business.  Reuters one-ups Bloomberg which, in spite of having Bloomberg TV, hasn’t done a whole lot in video (expect that to change with Bloomberg’s recent purchase of retail investor-oriented, BusinessWeek).

From the FT:

The company said its “Insider” service would transform “financial programming from a passive one-way broadcast into a highly collaborative and personalised medium”.

Besides misspelling personalized, I think the FT is off here.  I think this is a great tool for content providers to further reach investors (in this case, professionals), but is it really good for investors?  Also, how is this platform highly collaborative — text posts allow for commentary and discussion to occur in the comment section below but video?  Video is an extremely passive medium.  That said, I think if done correctly, the personalization (with a ‘z’) can be really cool.  This narrowcasting beats the pants off of generalized drivel coming from 24/7 cable media.

I haven’t seen the demo (it’s not available yet — why would you launch a product with a media blitz before a demo is ready??) but I’m not convinced video is being used by investors in a way that would warrant such an investment.  Meaning, I think the supply of video is such where it made a lot of sense for Reuters to aggregate this stuff to their clients.  I’m just not sure the demand is there from the people who will consume this stuff — investors.

Text vs. Video

Sure, investors have CNBC streaming in the background on the trading floor, but are they watching critically?  Are they basing trade decisions on what they hear?  My feeling is that they aren’t — at least, not yet.   Traders/investors/research analysts consume a ton of content every day and text is still the best way to plow through this stuff.

I understand that Reuters will be providing transcripts of the 3-5 minute segments but people don’t speak the same way they write.  Investment writing is typically concise, to-the-point, and supporting materials can be used to help prove a thesis.  TV/video is not like that.

I think content creators will be tripping over themselves to join the Reuters network and we’ll see more industry sources turn to video to market themselves but I’m not sure we’ll see the same take-up by the investment community.

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