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The Financial Times (FT) is hosting its inaugural hack event as it forecasts that over 60% of visits to its site will be generated by mobile devices from 2020.
The publisher has invited developers into its offices to design and build new products using its content and search APIs as it prepares to see the majority of its visits from mobile devices from 2017 onwards.
Its mobile audience currently accounts for under 10% of visits to its website, but this is expected to ramp up significantly over the next eight years to eventually reach over 60% by the beginning of the next decade, according to the FT’s own forecast figures, see chart below.
Mary Beth Christie, ft.com’s online product management director, described the event, which runs on the 23 and 24 of this month, as a “beta hack day” to test the robustness of the publisher’s content and search APIs.
“We hope that something like this will help give us new ideas and to expand our perspective,” she said. “If it’s successful then we’ll run more hack events.
“Does it mean we’ll have an open API [similar to the Guardian]? That’s under discussion. But there’s a reason that we’re having the event in our building [to maintain its privacy at present],” she added.
Christie also went on to say that its content APIs will help improve the speed at which it can bring new products to the market as well as improve the user experience across devices given that its audiences are becoming increasingly fragmented (see below).
“This can help improve the user experience and make it more seamless across devices,” said Christie.
The FT is also preparing for the shift in consumption by developing new rich-media-content advertising propositions, particularly for tablet devices.
“We’ve been spending a lot of time coming up with rich media content formats to work on tablets as a lot of advertisers want that,” she said.
Commenting on the FT’s HTML5 web app strategy, which saw it withdraw its apps from Apple’s App Store amid a wave of publicity, Christie said the company had to spend much of its time experimenting.
“When you’re developing with HTML5 there’s no blueprint [for how best to build an app] like you get with native apps [such as Android or Apple]… so we had to spend a lot of time testing and retesting, we had to break a lot of ground ourselves,” she said.
The publisher is also working on improving some of the functionalities of its HTML5 web app.
“Some of the things like using push notifications and developing geo-location are not as easy on a web app [compared to providing those features via a native app],” she said. “But that’s something we’re building up over time.”