NPR's iPad App Downloaded 350,000 Times, New Public Media API Announced

NPR always has among the most popular news apps in the iTunes Store. Its latest iPad app has been downloaded 350,000 times, according to CEO Vivian Schiller, who spoke this morning at Wired’s Business Conference in New York City. Considering that only about 2 million iPads have been sold, about one in six iPad owners have downloaded the iPad app.

Asked whether she minds getting links from Google News, as Rupert Murdoch and other news organizations like to complain apparently do, she responded: “I have no problems with that whatsoever. I am not in the camp of Google bashers, Google sends a lot of traffic to us. We want our content to be as easily discoverable as possible.”

Of course, NPR’s mission is to provide free journalism to the public, so she is not a big fan of paywalls either. As listeners shift to the Web, NPR is committed to following them and serving them there as well. Ignoring consumer preference, she notes, would be a “path to destruction.” She estimates NPR’s Website traffic to currently be around 12 million unique visitors per month.

To the extent that other traditional media outlets talk actually start erecting paywalls and blocking Google, NPR and other open media sites will benefit.

Schiller also announced the development of a new API for public media broadcasters called the Public Media Platform to share news, content, and data among the websites of public broadcasters, such as NPR and PBS. The Public Media Platform (PMP) will be funded by a $1 million grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. The PMP will initially be available to public broadcasters and eventually may open up to other media organizations as well, although it is unclear to what extent commercial media sites or developers will be able to tap into the PMP.