Bloomberg's new app portal: future media ecosystem or fashion accessory?

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Jasper Jackson, TheMediaBriefing Experts' Blog, B2B Media, Digital Media

Does Bloomberg's app portal offer a new ecosystem for publishers to tap into - or is it just a me-too move from an institution keen to lock its customers into contracts?

At this stage it is a bit difficult to tell. The Bloomberg App Portal launched on Monday with around 45 apps developed by third parties - which can use Bloomberg data and combine it with their own in order to, as the company puts it in the modern argot, "add value".

App developers can charge a subscription, of which Bloomberg takes a cut of (you guessed it) 30 percent.

Bloomberg isn't the first financial data firm to open up as a platform - Thomson Reuters runs a similar scheme. But the opportunity to tap into the high-value customer base and financial data of the market leader should be pretty alluring for publishers.

Yet so far partners offering their apps on the portal are weighted towards the technological side rather than the publishing side.

Bloomberg's PR people provided two examples of apps on the portal at launch:

-- Stealth Analytics: An app providing fighter plane cockpit-style visualisations of trading data.

-- Social Media Indicator: A social media analytics app providing sentiment analysis data on how stocks are being referred to on social media. 

It's easy to view Bloomberg's app portal as merely an attempt to keep up with the latest fashion. But Bloomberg has been talking about "open data" for a while now and it is pursuing a collaborative approach with partners. 

Yet, the business priorities driving the move are more about its role as a technology company, built on selling terminals and focused on locking customers into using its services.

In that respect it has a lot of in common with Apple. The Cupertino gadget giant has shown how building an ecosystem around your core products is a hugely powerful customer retention tool - and that means the content is in many ways a secondary consideration.

Bloomberg's app portal has a similar raison d'être, especially as competitors are doing similar things. That means that while there shouldn't be anything stopping you working with Bloomberg, content is the bait to sell and retain more subscriptions, rather than the product itself

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