Times goes mobile and plans Blackberry enhancements

Times Media has today launched a new mobile service allowing readers to access the Times, Sunday Times and Times Online material and is working on a secondary launch optimising the service for Blackberry users.

Times Mobile will feature breaking news, full business and sports coverage, reviews, real-time football scores and jobs.

‘We’ve been doing mobile more on a tactical basis – supporting marketing efforsts or developing applications or content around specific events like Wimbledon, for example,’said Times digital media publisher Zach Leonard.

‘We felt we could afford t o have a year or two of experimentation and do marketing events around mobile, but now we just feel we can’t afford not to be out there with a proper mobile product.”

Leonard said the new Wap-based service was made possible by the new cross-media publishing system that the Times had switched to earlier this year as part of the relaunch of Times Online.

The mobile service uses technology from Buongiorno to replicating the experience of the Internet as closely as possible.

The content on Times Mobile is cut down to suit small screens and is selected to include the particular types of information that Times Media’s research has indicated mobile users are most interested in receiving.

‘Mobile products tend to just rehash of what is on their web sites. But in our case we stepped back and did a lot of research on how people are consuming information through their mobile – particularly when and where they are using it,’said Leonard.

The Times’s research found that users classic mobile users are professional people interested in quick updates while on the move. But there is also a ‘killing time’aspect to mobile news consumption. It therefore stressed breaking news, live sports scores and

The service is optimised for various different types of mobile handset, and Times Media is putting particular emphasis on Blackberry users.

‘Blackberry features very prominently in our target audience, so we are optimising specifically for RIM and Blackberry products,’said Leonard.

‘To our target audience, it’s just the primary – or only – way that they are consuming information for most of the day, so we have to have a presence there,” he said. “We’re working up some properitarty aspects of that for a secondary release in the new year.”

Times Mobile will also be promoted through search engines, advertising networks and mobile partnerships with handset manufacturs RIM, Nokia and network operator O2.

The service will carry both display and classified advertising, and users will be able to serarch the Times jobs database.

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