Creamer Media this month launched an upgraded version of the Mining Weekly online iPhone application, just three months after it unveiled what was believed to be the first locally-developed application for the iPhone 3G.

CEO Kenneth Creamer says the media group was pleased with the positive response to the launch of the application in October last year, with 173 downloads within the first 24 hours of the application being available in the iTunes store. The country responsible for the most downloads on the first day was the US, with 62 downloads; followed by Canada with 15 downloads; Japan and Australia at 12 downloads each; and France with 11 downloads.

“Since then, the interest in the application has picked up nicely and more than 6 500 people have downloaded it onto their iPhones,” says Creamer. The US continues to account for the majority of downloads, at an estimated 2 600 at last count, followed by Australia; Canada; Great Britain; France; and South Africa.

And with the launch of the upgraded version, Creamer anticipates a significant uptick in the number of downloads, with almost 1 500 downloads of the new version already recorded.

Version 2.0 allows users to access multi-media options related to key news articles, including video items, audio material and daily podcasts.

Banner advertising has also been introduced to the application, thus contributing to the future sustainability of the project.

“Our application continues to be available free of charge from the iTunes Store, and therefore the introduction of advertising on the bottom of the page allows us to generate revenue,” says Creamer.

“Advertisers now have the opportunity to gain global exposure for their products and services across internet and mobile platforms, and be associated with a brand that offers up-to-the-minute reporting on global news development in the mining industry, including the gold, platinum, diamonds and base metals sectors,” says Creamer.

The iTunes Store allows users to post comments related to iPhone applications, and the positive feedback and suggestions regarding the Mining Weekly application to date have assisted Creamer Media in improving the application in line with the needs of the market.

One reviewer, JPM Watson, described it as: “a very slick and well thought-out app, bringing breaking mining news directly to your phone", but added that: “a possible future improvement to this app would be the ability to email an interesting article to a friend”.

The suggestion was noted, and it is now possible in Mining Weekly’s iPhone application version 2.0 to email articles of interest from the application to friends and colleagues.

Another enhancement is that the bottom menu bar can also be customised in order to include the link to the search function.

Shane Williams, Designer of the Mining Weekly iPhone Application, explains that the upgraded version is as user-friendly and intuitive as possible: “so that even new users can operate the application and navigate the content with ease”.

In addition, the upgrade includes the reporting of reader-usage statistics.

“This ensures accountability for advertisers, as they can track users’ interactions with their advertising. It also offers us greater insight into the usage patterns of readers,” says Creamer.

“Version 2.0 represents a major upgrade to the application, and takes it to a new level of functionality,” says Creamer.

The initial strategy of developing an iPhone application was based on enhancing the global brand of the group, which publishes Engineering News and Mining Weekly, as well as the online versions of both publications.

“It was our intention to entrench our brand as the leading source of global mining news and information. In three months, an additional 6 500 users have been exposed to the brand. Also, the introduction of banner advertising means the application has the potential to be more than simply a branding exercise as it makes it possible for us [to] earn revenue off the application without the need for cross-subsidisation from other media within the group,” says Creamer.

The Mining Weekly application runs off the same Content Management System as the original website, offering the same real time daily news flow. In addition, the same search functionality is available as well as real time regional news updates for Africa; North America; South America; Australasia; Asia; and Europe.

The iPhone 3G was launched by Apple in 21 countries in July last year, with one-million phones sold within three days of its launch, although it only became available in South Africa through Vodacom at the end of September.

Incorporating 3G wireless technology, the device combines three products in one: a mobile phone; a wide-screen iPod; and a breakthrough internet device with rich HTML email and full Web browsing.