What The Hell Are We Doing With Apps?

In a word: lots.

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You might have heard we are working on a news app. You might have heard that we've recently acquired not one, but two app companies. You might have heard that our apps were recognized by both Apple and Google in their best apps of the year awards. And today, you might have heard we launched our first new app in years and that it's called ... wait for it... Cute or Not. “What the hell is going on?!” you ask. Well, stay with me and I'll explain.

So Why Cute or Not?

Experimentation is one of the building blocks of BuzzFeed’s DNA. We are constantly learning and iterating off our experiments, and any experiment is successful if we can gather data and learn from it. We see the App Store as a platform, and it makes sense for us to be experimenting there the same way we experiment on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat etc.

Cute or Not is also about making something we think will delight people. In fact, Cute or Not actually started as an editorial experiment by BuzzFeed’s animals team where BuzzFeed community members could upload their pets to BuzzFeed and vote for their favorites. We believed that Cute or Not would make an even better app experience and wanted to build something that our community could have fun with.

We Like Apps

I’m often asked why we believe in apps when many media companies are ditching their apps and focusing on pure-web experiences. Another building block of our DNA is to make the best experience for our readers on whatever platform they are on, whether they are finding us on the web or downloading one of our apps directly.

We’re excited about native apps because we can provide deep experiences that aren’t always possible on the web. Providing rich features like notifications, personalization, home screen widgets, offline access, and wearable features can bring huge enhancements to your experience.

So How Does This Fit In With What BuzzFeed Is Doing Overall?

There has been a lot of talk about unbundling in the tech industry. At BuzzFeed we’ve thought a lot about our apps and our audience and have spent a lot of time thinking about what makes the most sense for us.

BuzzFeed started as a humble website, but has grown to be a global media company. Every month our articles, videos, and media is viewed more than 2 billion times across many platforms.

To some people, BuzzFeed is about reading fun lists, taking quizzes and sharing and discussing them amongst their friends. To others, we are a source for vital news and groundbreaking journalism, or for ways to get more out of your life. And to some, we are a source of hilarious videos they love to binge watch.

As we thought about what the best experience for each of these things would be, it became increasingly apparent that shoehorning all the ways to experience BuzzFeed into one app doesn’t make sense. We don’t see it as "unbundling" as much as focusing. Instead of having one baseline for all types of stories and media we need to build apps that can excel at providing the best experience for each.

What’s Next?

In 2014, we focused on improving our existing BuzzFeed app and are proud we have been recognized in best apps of the year from both Apple and Google. Looking ahead, 2015 will be our biggest mobile product year to date - and we’re psyched about that!

For our current apps for iOS and Android, we’ll keep doing our best to make a delightful experience for our readers who love fun and entertaining lists, quizzes, and life stories — but still want to be informed about the world when big things happen.

And we can't wait to share some of the awesome new apps we're building to delight our users with News, Video and more. Until then, swipe right to cute!