Reuters Summit-FT sees BlackBerry with smaller role in future

Fri Jun 15, 2012 12:07am IST

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By Jennifer Saba and Yinka Adegoke

NEW YORK, June 14 (Reuters) - Financial Times, which gets nearly a third of its revenue from digital subscriptions, expects BlackBerry smartphones to become less important for corporate executives as BlackBerry loses market share to devices like Apple's iPhone and Google's Android based system.

FT.com managing director Rob Grimshaw said BlackBerry, made by Research In Motion RIM.TO, is now fourth in terms of priority for developing the FT's applications, even behind Microsoft's (MSFT.O) Windows 8.

"It's something we keep pushing back," Grimshaw said at the Reuters Global Media and Technology Summit in New York.

"We'll be doing something, but it's becoming less and less important in our world. They still have a presence in the corporate marketplace but they have lost their dominance."

The Financial Times, owned by Pearson PLC (PSON.L), has been at the forefront of digital monetization strategies among newspapers publishers. It has been charging for access to its website for more than a decade and has applications for Apple's (AAPL.O) iPhone and Google's (GOOG.O) Android-based devices.

Last summer FT.com declined to place its app in the Apple iTunes Store and instead developed a Web-based app, in order to sidestep Apple's control of user data and revenue-share terms.

Many content providers are wary of not being in the Apple store since so many consumers own iPads and iPhones.

Grimshaw said the fact that the FT is not in the Apple store has not hurt its ability to attract digital readers.

"We've been publishing since 1883. We don't need Apple to tell people we're here," said Grimshaw.

The FT has 285,000 digital subscribers, nearly half of its total readership. Grimshaw expects the FT will derive 50 percent of its revenue from digital in the next three to four years.

The FT is closely watched as the newspaper industry moves to start charging for its digital content after resisting for the last decade. The industry is facing unprecedented challenges as advertisers choose to spend elsewhere and readers ditch paid print product in favor of free online news.

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(Reporting by Jennifer Saba and Yinka Adegoke; Editing by Phil Berlowitz)

((jennifer.saba@thomsonreuters.com)(1 646 223-6173)(Reuters Messaging: jennifer.saba.reuters.com@reuters.com)) Keywords: MEDIA TECH SUMMIT/BLACKBERRY

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