Are News Apps Overrated?

Highly, according to Jason Pontin, the editor in chief and publisher of Technology Review:

Today, most owners of mobile devices read news and features on publishers' websites, which have often been coded to detect and adapt themselves to smaller screens; or, if they do use apps, the apps are glorified RSS readers such as Amazon Kindle, Google Reader, Flipboard, and the apps of newspapers like the Guardianwhich grab editorial from the publishers' sites. A recent Nielsen study reported that while 33 percent of tablet and smart-phone users had downloaded news apps in the previous 30 days, just 19 percent of users had paid for any of them. The paid, expensively developed publishers' app, with its extravagantly produced digital replica, is dead.

Christopher Mims agrees and disagrees:

I definitely spend more time reading news in apps than in the browser. So do millions of other people. Of course, we're not using the bloated, walled-garden style apps that publishers want us to, even if they're free with our print subscriptions. We're reading in Instapaper. And News.me. And Zite, and Flipboard, and Read it Later. … In this era, social — Twitter and Facebook — are how we find things to read. And then we time-shift our consumption of this material. It's TiVo for the web…