Wall Street Journal Goes Mobile

In the first of several expected moves into the wireless arena, the Wall Street Journal has launched an edition of its content site for wireless phones. Other editions, including one for the RIM Blackberry, are forthcoming, the company said.

“The Wall Street Journal Mobile,” which will be available for a $3.99 monthly subscription fee, was created in partnership with wireless application player Summus. Summus is handling carrier distribution and has so far lined up Sprint PCS and Verizon Wireless, but more partnerships are expected to follow. Carriers will handle the billing and make the application available in their download library. It’s available on both the BREW and Java 2 Micro Edition (J2ME) platforms.

Summus creates custom applications for clients, many of which are content providers. Previous projects have had it partnering with Sports Illustrated to release a “Swimsuit Edition” wallpaper download and with Fujifilm to release an application called Get the Picture Mobile.

“It’s a fairly low-risk prospect for us,” said Jessica Perry, vice president of business development, consumer electronic publishing for Dow Jones, explaining that the company simply provided the content. “There are a lot of competing standards for mobile information standards. We wanted to find an experienced technology partner that was familiar with those standards so the investment would be minimal for us.”

The Wall Street Journal Mobile edition will carry business and financial news from the Online Journal along with market information. Users can also input information about their portfolios to get data on their investments.

Though the Wall Street Journal boasts paying subscribers for both its print edition and its online edition, those people won’t get free access or a discounted rate for the new service. Perry said it wasn’t technologically possible to unify its own and carriers’ databases, and the nature of the partnership with Summus would make it too complicated to offer such discounts.

“Right now physically it’s not possible to do,” said Perry. “We look at it as similar to someone who might buy a newsstand copy of the Wall Street Journal when they’re out, even though they’re getting it delivered at home. We see separate value in getting the content delivered via a different device and different platform.”

There won’t be advertising on the mobile edition initially, but Perry isn’t ruling it out.

“That’s something we might explore in the future, but not initially,” she said. “Advertising is all about scale and we don’t have that to offer advertisers yet. Because it’s a downloadable application there might be some interesting things we can do.”

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