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Credit: Screenshot from qz.com

The delivery of news on mobile has been a core focus for Quartz ever since its launch in 2012 and it will be one of the areas the media company will invest significantly in this year, alongside bots, artificial intelligence and events.

Quartz has around 20 million monthly unique visitors and between 40 and 50 per cent of its audience is international, with some 70 per cent of readers coming from mobile.

"We want to provide readers with the best news experience on mobile devices, which requires a process of constant reinvention to think about the interfaces and types of journalism that we deliver," Kevin Delaney, editor-in-chief and president of Quartz, told Journalism.co.uk.

"Serving readers on mobile better than anybody else is the majority of our focus this year because it's our signature."

The outlet will be "making some big deliveries" in mobile this year, he added, and sees it as an opportunity to "stay ahead" both in terms of content and advertising.

Quartz will be adding at least one more developer to work on its conversational mobile app, which launched one year ago on iOS and two months ago on Android. It will also be looking to expand with more personalisation options, push notifications that make use of rich media elements supported by iOS 10, and a better integrated video experience.

"We've worked our way through the mobile idiom," Delaney said, "so what do people do on their phones? They chat, they email, they use social networks, they play games, and they surf the web to do e-commerce.

"Those would probably be the five big categories, so we've systematically tried to innovate on the delivery of news for each of those. The one that we haven't done, and don't have any concrete plans to do, is games, because there are very few newsgames that are successful and even though I think it's an interesting area for media companies, it requires a lot more thought."

In November 2016, Quartz announced the launch of a new bot studio, supported by a $240,000 (£191,000) grant from the Knight Foundation. Last week, the company hired John Keefe, senior editor on WNYC's data news team, to explore the opportunities of artificial intelligence (AI) and bots for news, and help build open-source tools and interfaces as part of the studio. Keefe will also work on Quartz's mobile app alongside the rest of the organisation's developers and journalists.

Quartz's work with bots and AI so far has included experiments with Slack integrations and creating a news briefing for Amazon Echo, and using a CMS in its app that allows it to be easily adapted for other messaging platforms.

"Our Knight grant is for a specific thing and that's what we're doing, but we're going to bleed resources into that from the rest of the organisation to support it."

Artificial intelligence will also continue to feature prominently in Quartz's coverage, and will be at the core of what could become a potentially significant revenue stream for the organisation. Quartz made its first acquisition in January, purchasing research firm Intelligentsia.ai to build on its existing coverage of AI and it is now working on a subscription-based research service around artificial intelligence.

"We already have two reporters who've been covering AI through our 'machines with brains' obsession, and we saw an opportunity that companies really need to understand AI and how to apply it to their business, but they're kind of struggling with getting traction in it.

"All of our content around AI will remain free, but we will be able to go deeper within that obsession to provide more research-based information to business readers."

Quartz's list of 'obsessions', or verticals, is flexible, and it is currently being reviewed with the aim of being updated in the coming weeks, to reflect some of the areas of coverage the outlet plans to focus on this year: finance and economics, technology and management.

The organisation is also rethinking its events strategy. In January, Recode reported Quartz will be discontinuing its Next Billion conference, which has taken place every year since 2013. The conference was born out of an 'obsession', Delaney explained, and the idea is to either rethink it or create a new event that "has its own momentum".

"We do lots of smaller events, for example we co-hosted a dinner for young leaders with Mastercard in Davos, and we were also a media sponsor and participated in the programming for an event on AI there, so we'll continue to do these events and do more of them internationally.

"It's the one or two-day events that we want to stop and reinvent."

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