I spent two years working on the Chicago Tribune's site-so I have an appreciation for well designed content. Ask me what some of the best examples of content design are on the Web and I'll tell you that the New York Times is a no brainer and more recently CNN has a strong showing. But hold the phone-literally, Fox News may have gotten a head start when it comes to designing a desirable mobile experience-which blurs text, navigation and multimedia taking advantage of the tools the iPhone currently has to offer. If you are no fan of Fox's actual content, I would ask you to read on with an open mind. I'm less interested in analyzing their programming as opposed to how they are using this medium.
Right off the bat, the mobile experience seems promising because you are presented with large, easy to read buttons, type and photos help break up the text. Fox wisely chooses to mimic the iPhones interface which makes it feel like a "native application" even though in reality all of the action happens through the iPhone's browser, Safari. Main choices are simple: "News", "Media", "Search" and headlines offer clear and actionable starting points.
While video is best served over Wi-fi, you can also view compressed version of it on AT&T's edge network. But when your in broadband mode, the video and audio are high quality. Combine this with the size of the iPhone screen and digesting mainstream media video content takes on a whole new dimension. Video can be viewed in both landscape and portrait mode.
I can't help but find it ironic that a media company which has struggled so much with their Web experience has actually shown such innovation and potential in the mobile space. Fox on the iPhone isn't perfect-I occasionaly get pages that don't load and the video isn't exactly seamless when you go back to your last click but overall, it's worth looking into. If I were ESPN or Sportscenter I would really investigate this. Sports fans are the perfect candidates for high quality mobile content, especially in the form of highlights, and video clips. With faster 3G iPhones, and the potential for multiple carriers or even less expensive models-I can't help but wonder if this is a sneak peak into a future that may not be as far off as we think.
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