The app enables smartphone users to take photos of print headlines and then find them online. It then allows you to share them on social media platforms.
Featured on techcrunch earlier in the week, Peekster is the product of a London based start-up that was founded last year. We spoke to co-founder and CEO Tine Hamler about what his app could mean for print and digital journalism.
Tine Hamler: We launched Peekster on November 21 last year with support for three major free newspapers in the UK (Evening Standard, City AM, Metro). At the end of the year we added support for The Guardian, The Independent and The Times newspaper. We cherry picked these publishers and add them into our system for testing purposes, so we can test the market and collect feedback from early adopters/readers.
Just about a week after the launch we were listed as the Best news app on the UK AppStore. In December 2013 we first pitched Peekster on the Wayra Demo day and were picked by The Next Web as one of the most promising startups at the event. So I guess we are up to something.
WAN-IFRA: How did you come up with the idea?
TH: All of the Peekster co-founders spend a lot of time online and we are early adopters for many services on the Internet but there are times and situations when you just cannot ignore the power and usefulness of printed media. One of the main reasons many people are migrating to digital, is just because at the moment print is not developing together with internet. We saw that enormous potential here and tried to develop a product that can make print engaging, fun and useful again.
Peekster is a result of many pivoting, testing different models and constantly looking for the best approach how to connect two separate worlds into an even more powerful and flexible tool for users and publishers worldwide.
Our first thought was about having your morning coffee and reading your favourite printed newspaper with Peekster installed on your Google Glass. We thought this can be pretty cool one day.
WAN-IFRA: How big is the audience for Peekster? How big do you think it will become?
TH: At the moment Peekster is focused on the UK market that still is pretty big market for printed media. But since the publishing industry is (more or less) facing the same problems anywhere around the world, we basically hope Peekster will grow into a global product soon. Since the majority of world’s circulation is still on print, we need to be quick and I’m pretty sure Peekster can bring the best out of it and maybe even turn the trend at some point.
WAN-IFRA: How many newspapers are now in the system, and how many more will there be? You have plans to expand to the U.S as well, when is that scheduled to happen?
TH: At the moment we support 6 newspapers (Evening Standard, City AM, Metro, The Guardian, The Independent and The Times newspaper) and we are planning to add a new batch that will also include few US titles soon (we are not giving out dates just yet).
There is of course no limitation how many we can handle and support so in the ideal world we will cover them all. The only requirement for Peekster to work is that the content (articles) is also available online. In the meantime we are looking for engaged investors or publishers that will back our mission and help us bring our product to the next stage.
WAN-IFRA: What will Peekster do for the traditional split between print and digital media?
TH: Well for starters, it will stop “splitting” and start “joining”. We think these two platforms can work hand in hand better than any other media. During the day we all have certain time slots that are more convenient for printed media (e.g. commuting from home to work with public transport) and some are more convenient for digital media (e.g. short brakes during work in the office). Each of these two has it’s advantages and Peekster is the only tool that can merge them together so readers will not need to choose between print and internet anymore – because at the end it’s all connected.
WAN-IFRA: Could Peekster help to keep print media more relevant?
TH: That’s our mission. But it’s not just that. As we always say Peekster is about content and connectivity. So one of our goals is to convince publishers that modern journalism needs an iTunes – a place where people will be able to buy individual articles (related articles in our case) and pay only for what they have read. It’s only fair and the only way young people will pay for journalism. We believe Peekster can be the perfect marketplace for that.