“Huffington.” is the latest mobile app from AOL, highlighting the best of the Huffington Post – and yes, the period is part of the name, just as AOL rebranded to "Aol." with a period. At the helm of the iPad magazine is Tim O’Brien, Huffpo’s executive editor, lured from the New York Times two years ago to manage the brand’s original journalism.
The news app will be free, at least for now, published weekly, largely based on HuffPo’s blend of original journalism and aggregated news, with some specifically commissioned stories — and, of course, leverage the personal brand of Arianna Huffington and the flagship Huffington Post website she sold to AOL last year.
The Huffington Post already has a mobile app, while AOL already offers a tablet-based news reader product called Editions, the latter (which pulls news content from a user’s social network) has not proven as successful as competitors like Flipboard, Pulse and Zite.
Editions ranks No. 60 in a category that “is a bit of a misnomer, since it includes apps that are free to download but require a paid subscription for full access.) Meanwhile, Flipboard, Yahoo Livestand, Pulse and Zite are No. 3, 5, 14 and 26, respectively,” according to Forbes' Jeff Bercovici.
Forbes also reports that David Shing, AOL’s “digital prophet” (yes, that's his title) expressed a strong view at a London conference on the superiority of websites over app-based products, saying, “Apps are a rubbish concept.”
Shing suggested that HTML5 should replace them all. “What’s important are M-sites. It’s like the desktop of Windows 98 – if an app isn’t on your top screen, I wonder what the redundancy is on screen five.
So there‘s already a hierarchy there. This is why HTML5 and the next iteration of the graphical web are so important, they will be ubiquitous across all devices.”
Shing’s summary advice: "Embrace fragmentation and go niche. Tech forecasting is a portfolio game, you need multiple iterations and you need to fail fast."
Perhaps AOL management needs to download “Huffington.” to stay attuned.