Developer Workshop: Taptu

Developer Workshop is a series of profiles exploring the current state of the mobile marketplace from the point of view of the software developers mapping out its future. Each profile focuses on a developer with a compelling story to tell, and offers their perspective on what the industry's doing right, what it's doing wrong and how to make it better. Check out our previous workshops on Shazam, InfoMedia, Viigo, Meet Now Live, Shortcovers, Pint Sized Mobile, Geodelic, Spark of Blue Software, Tarver Games, People Operating Technology, Booyah, Bolt Creative, Thwapr, Monkeyland Industries, Rocket Racing League, Vlingo, Advanced Mobile Protection and PapayaMobile.

This week FierceDeveloper profiles Taptu, which recently introduced My Taptu, a free social news aggregator application.

taptu logo

Long synonymous with mobile search solutions, Taptu is expanding the parameters of its platform with the introduction of My Taptu, a free social news aggregator application optimized for iOS and Android devices. My Taptu delivers personalized "streams" culling information from popular content publishers and media resources as well as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn updates, promising a one-stop experience encompassing all the subjects each user cares about most. Alongside a StreamStore enabling consumers to discover and add streams, Taptu's in-house editorial staff curates data to create mixed topic streams delivering additional information and context on a given issue--My Taptu even converts content from websites without an RSS feed or mobile presence.

The launch of My Taptu follows weeks after the firm named longtime mobile industry veteran Mitch Lazar as its new CEO. Previously managing director of Yahoo Mobile Europe, Lazar first rose to prominence during a 12-year stint with Time Warner, spearheading CNN and The Cartoon Network's first forays into the mobile segment. FierceDeveloper spoke to Lazar about his new gig, My Taptu and why this is the perfect time for developers to enter the mobile segment.

Mitch Lazar taptuMitch Lazar on joining Taptu: I spent 20 years in big media. There are things I really love about creating businesses and large organizations. I could have gone back to that, but I wanted to try something different. I wanted to craft a compelling experience on mobile, and I wanted to roll up my sleeves and get hands my dirty.

I first met [Taptu co-founders Steve Ives and Bob Last] when I was at Turner. I felt there's something about this company that's special--it has the kind of unique assets that are so hard to create. They realized mobile search was broken and it needed something different. I felt I could make an impact here.

Lazar on My Taptu: I wanted to build a service that people use every single day, multiple times a day. To do that, you have to build the right topic lists and categories. We have editorial folks who know this space--curation is a hot thing, and when you get it right, you add more dimensions and new experiences.

The StreamStore is the heartbeat of My Taptu. It's comprised of different ways to discover streams--you can see trending topics based on what other consumers are using. Soon we're going to turn our tools over to the masses and allow users to curate their own streams and put them in the store for other users to download. We want to turn people on to other kinds of content.

my taptu screenshotMy Taptu is free. We believe we can monetize our platform in other ways, like using our tools to mobilize websites that aren't optimized for the mobile Web. We believe there is value in providing those experiences for big brands. For now, we're focused on growing our audience--once you have that, then economic models will present themselves.

Lazar on the differences between iOS and Android: There are pluses and minuses to both. With the Apple platform, you develop once--it's a closed environment, and you don't have to test a multitude of devices. But you have to go through such a long process to get into the App Store. Android is an exciting place to be, but it's not the same closed environment--OEMs are adding their own bells and whistles, and though it's not as significant as it was in the Java and WML days, it's still something we have to think about.

Lazar's advice for aspiring mobile developers: Don't give up. Speaking as somebody who's been developing for mobile since 1996, there's always been this philosophy that the mobile market is going to arrive in one or two years--and now it's finally arrived. We have devices with more power, we have enhanced screen capabilities, we have an infrastructure that is exciting and compelling, and we have network speed. The chemistry of creating a mobile business is now coming together like we've never seen before--you can now grow and sustain yourself like never before. This business has arrived. Now is the time to be in mobile.