An App In the Crowd

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by: Rich Kane

An App In the Crowd

Flipboard. Circa. SmartNews. Taptu. Pocket. Prismatic. Feedly. Google Play Newsstand.

We could quite handily fill up this story with just the names of all the news aggregation apps out there, and now, straight out of Australia, comes another: Inkl.

Yet CEO Gautam Mishra insists Inkl is different, comparing it to some of the more popular streaming digital media platforms like Netflix. “The Spotify of news,” is how Mishra describes Inkl.

On the surface, Inkl seems like it’ll have a difficult time succeeding, especially since it charges users when so many other news apps are free. But Mishra has a plan.

“We’re different from other aggregators in how we curate content,” he said. “We use a ranking that the publishers and editors themselves give to each story.”

Inkl’s main selling point, though, is that it gives paying users advertising-free access to stories many newspapers like the Los Angeles Times keep behind their paywalls. Kick a single monthly subscription fee to Inkl, and you’ll get all the previously hard-to-get content you want at one price without having to hop through your favorite newspaper apps one at a time.

In addition to the Times, the Chicago Tribune and Washington Post have aligned with Inkl, as have The Guardian, the Sydney Morning Herald and the South China Morning Post. Other titles will join in 2015, Mishra promises. For now, Inkl is geo-blocked from U.S. users, but Mishra says a strategy is in place for a proper launch later in 2015.

“We’ve had a number of U.S. users who’ve hacked the geo-blocking ask us when it will be available,” Mishra said. “We’re still in the process of getting top publishers on board, but we’ll have strong, recognized brands. What we’ve heard from users elsewhere in the world is that they love the content. The open rate with our daily news email is 30 percent, which is fantastic.”

Once Inkl goes (legally) live in the States, Mishra guesstimates charging a $12-per-month rate for unlimited ad-free access, and possibly a prepaid pay-as-you-read model of 10 cents per article. A free tier, with advertising, is also being explored.

“It’s very much the Spotify model,” Mishra said. “They have 60 million users, and 15 million of them pay a monthly fee, and this can work with Inkl. We’ve seen a growing number of readers who need news and information that extends beyond their local titles. They’re seeking out content from multiple publishers to ensure they have a global perspective, and Inkl simplifies this.”

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Editor’s Note: Since we interviewed Mishra, Inkl has now launched in the U.S.

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