AP Digital to License ‘Push’ Software

The Associated Press is moving into the Web content syndication business as part of an extended licensing agreement with InfoDesk, a maker of real-time content distribution software.

As part of its collaboration with the Tarrytown, N.Y.-based software provider, the 154-year-old AP is rolling out new products that help members and corporate customers syndicate content in Web internal and external networks. The agreement is also expected to enable customers to syndicate content beyond desktop PCs, such as smart phones and mobile devices.

The products are also an example of the new generation of “push” technologies taking root among Web developers and enterprise networks, especially as a subset of the Web Services movement.

The news cooperative has also moved aggressively in the past two years to deploy emerging protocols for describing and transmitting digital content in various formats, such as XML and SOAP, protocols that also underpin the move to integrate applications via Web Services.

In this case, the AP is offering new products, InfoViewer and InfoClient, that essentially feed content straight to mini-clients on end-users’ desktops in real-time streams. The feeds bypass continuous browser requests for updated information that can quickly turn into bottlenecks in corporate networks.

InfoDesk and the AP have been working on creating a new, private-labeled desktop syndication products that enable the AP to extend its distribution system into digital platforms, specifically Web-based networks.

That the AP would move into the software licensing business in conjunction with another company is new business direction for the news organization, which is mostly owned by newspapers and broadcasters. The move is also a sign that the AP is responding to its traditional print and broadcast members’ concerns about migrating to digital distribution platforms.

A company spokesman said the content from third-party providers includes feeds from international agencies such as Russia’s Interfax, Press Association (UK-based), health and business news.

John Reid, vice president of technology for the New York-headquartered Associated Press, said the new products would make it easy for customers and AP members to deliver streaming content, in real time, to users who can simultaneously access and display third-party content feeds on their desktops.

The new syndication services are also expected to help mid-sized businesses integrate and roll-out new content products within their intranets and external Web sites without the need to hire additional developers.

Two commercial divisions within the AP, AP Digital and AP Information Services, are expected to offer the third-party content to corporate customers. The content will be distributed by AP Telecommunications, a commercial division of the association that distributes third-party content such as press release wires and trade journal articles via satellite to AP member newspapers as well as non-member customers. The new service gives the division another platform on which to deliver AP content, as well as other providers.

The latest announcement is part of the AP’s goal to build new syndication business lines with third-party providers. Just last month, AP Digital joined with Reed Business Information (RBI), the division of English/Dutch publishing giant Reed Elsevier Group, in a distribution arrangement.