Skip to main content
February 16, 2012

Read all about it: Sourcing news in the digital age

Nokia Connects explores the way mobile devices are changing how we access and process news.


Step onto any form of public transport, in just about any country in the world, and you’re likely to see at least one person using their smartphone to read the news.

With news now accessible 24 hours a day via mobile apps and the internet, it is hardly surprising that newspapers and magazines complain about their falling readerships as more and more people find they can effectively get the news ‘in their pocket’.

On my daily commute, I would estimate that around 10 per cent of people whose shoulders I happen to peer over are reading newspaper apps or some sort of news aggregator such as Google News on the screens of their phones. This may be a highly un-scientific way of estimating how many people are using mobile phones to source their news, but I doubt that the real story is much different.

In January 2011, the Pew Research Centre published a report which found that 41 per cent of people in the U.S get most of their news from the internet, compared to 31 per cent who use newspapers as their main source.

The combination of ease of use and accessibility has made the popularity of apps such as BBC News Mobile, AP Mobile and World News Updates soar over the past few years.

So far, so obvious.

But take this along with the fact that mobile internet is one of the fastest growing industry trends, and has been predicted to take over desktop internet usage by 2014, and we start seeing the larger picture.

According to Microsoft Tag, of the world’s 4 billion mobile phones, over  1 billion are internet-enabled smartphones, and of all mobile phone usage, 36 per cent of time is spent checking news sources.

via DigitalBuzz

In India – where an estimated 121 million people have internet access – the growth of smartphones and 3G technology looks set to pave the way for mobile internet to take over PCs.

“Soon, there’ll be more mobile phones than people in India,” says Ankur Agarwal, the editor of the Indian gadget blog

There are nearly 900 million mobile subscribers in the Indian subcontinent, and more than half of all Indians currently use mobile phones to access the internet. In 2010, it was estimated that 59% of mobile Web users in India infrequently or never used desktop Internet.

The majority of people using mobile internet spend time on social networking sites, which play a large role in the distribution and sharing of news sources. In October 2009, market research outfit Comscore reported that online news sites in India recorded 16 million users – a 37 per cent increase from the previous year.

via World Bank

All this sounds as if it might be the potential death knell for the newspaper industry – or at least push newspapers from print to online distribution – but the whole story is more complex.

The majority of people admit to getting their news from multiple platforms, and many consume a variety of print, online and televised news.

Think about how you read the news. Most likely you will check your phone for your favourite newspaper apps, use social networking sites to share links and articles with your friends, occasionally pick up the odd copy of a newspaper or magazine, talk to friends and colleagues about what’s happening in the world and watch the news. You may do all or only some of these on a daily basis.

Reading and understanding the news is a personal experience, and every person does it differently. What is clear, however, is that a growing number of people are choosing to use mobile internet and news apps as a large part of their newsgathering. This only looks set to increase in the future.

How do you see the future of news? Join the conversation and get in touch @Nokia_Connects