Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

Zite Jumps to the Small Screen, Too

The iPad is famous for being a content-consumption device. But its smaller sibling can be a good place to read, too. Personalized newsreader Zite today adds support for the iPhone, just a couple days after its competitor, Flipboard.

Previously, both apps had been iPad-only.

Zite users have been “clamoring” for an iPhone app, said CEO Mark Johnson. Zite for iPhone is pretty similar to the iPad version but with some modifications, like a thumb-ready scrolling wheel of categories. (Flipboard, by contrast, made some relatively major adjustments.) Also new this week: Google Currents for both Android and iOS devices.

Zite prides itself on its personalization skills, delivering to each user content that is filtered for its high interestingness, topic relevance and proximity on the Twitter social graph; it gives users tools to tune those filters.

Johnson said Zite’s iPad users read content from many different sources, rather than just famous ones. “Our top publisher gets less than 2 percent of total clicks, and click curve is very flat,” he said, adding that peak usage so far has been on nights and weekends, which is typical for iPad apps but may change now that the app is available on phones.

One feature I’d like to see that Zite doesn’t have yet: Marking content as read across multiple devices, so you can load up your iPhone where your iPad left off, and vice versa.

Zite was bought three months ago by CNN, and it continues to be developed independently, with its new parent company taking care of operational stuff.

Johnson said CNN hasn’t yet put any pressure on Zite to figure out the whole monetization thing.

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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus