Bowen Discusses Thomson Reuters’ Mobile Business

ThinkMobileLogo.gifThomson Reuters launched its first BlackBerry and iPhone news applications in May, and they are available free-of-charge in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and India, with Japan set to join that list in the near future. Senior vice president and head of consumer publishing Alisa Bowen discussed her company’s mobile strategy at mediabistro‘s Think Mobile event in New York Wednesday.

Bowen focused on the blurring of the lines between professional and personal use of mobile devices, saying that these devices are “something people are carrying with them at all times, and these are highly customizable devices.”

She pointed out that “Basic phones with some features, like cameras, still dominate and are still the majority of the devices out there,” and said the question Thomson Reuters asks is: “Will the next phone be the new computer or will the next computer be the new phone?”

In terms of corporate acceptance of mobile devices, she said, “Enterprises are becoming more accommodating in terms of the freedom they give their employees to adapt their mobile devices,” but she later added, “In our experience, the jury is still out on how quickly large corporations will adopt the iPhone platform. The BlackBerry is still dominant.”

Bowen stressed the need for people within organizations who back mobile technology, saying, “Mobile czars are very important. You need individuals within the organization to champion mobile.” And she recommended that companies not bite off more than they can chew and try to do too much on their own, adding, “There are a gazillion vendors who can do almost anything within the mobile space. Each existing business has a customer set, and all of those customers have mobile requirements.”

Speaking about subject matter, Bowen said, “News, weather, sports and entertainment continue to dominate. The single biggest challenge, both in the consumer sector and the commercial sector, is managing information overload. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for an organization like ours to try to charge a premium for our content. It comes down to the value that you’re providing to the customer at the end of the day.”

And as far as the company’s iPhone and BlackBerry apps, she added that users were accessing them “during downtime in elevators, in subways, as people are commuting. All of the content is cached, so it allows offline browsing.”

Finally, since journalism is a major component at Thomson Reuters, Bowen discussed things the company is doing to help its employees in that sector, saying, “Our journalists are in the most far-flung, remote places you can imagine, and news often happens when they’re least prepared for it. What we tried to do is look at the work flow of a journalist and develop specific applications, in partnership with Nokia.”