Yesterday I wrote about how European newspapers, especially in Italy, seem to be rushing to make sure their papers are available on the iPad. Late yesterday yet another Italian media group made an appearance in the iTunes app store, Class Editori.
Class Editori S.p.A. is an Italian media company founded by Paolo Panerai which specializes in financial and lifestyle publications. Its financial newspaper MF Milano Finanza is a leading business publication in Italy. Class Editori manages a joint venture with Dow Jones in Italy, MF Dow Jones News, and owns a classical radio station, as well. (What's with the European financial papers and classical music? The French financial newspaper, Les Echos, integrated classical music right into their app.)
The app for MF Milano Finanza was one of two apps released yesterday for Class Editori -- the other was for ItaliaOggi, a paper that covers economics and politics. Both apps were developed by Nexus Srl, which until now has launched a strange group of apps -- cartoons, an app concerning the Shroud of Turin.
The description listed in iTunes (in Italian, of course) states that the apps, which are free to download, will give the reader free access to the content for an unspecified "promotional" period. Clearly the publisher wanted the marketing advantages of being able to claim that their papers are available on the iPad. U.S. publishers, on the other hand, have either decided to wait-and-see, or else have decided to avoid what they see as the mistakes made online by making content available for free by launching apps that demand that the reader pay the same (or in some cases more) than the print cover price).
Class Editori appears to be doing very well, indeed: earning 27.3€ million in the first quarter of this year, a modest increase over 2009. Obviously the company has decided to learn about tablet publishing by experience, rather than sitting on the sidelines and seeing what works. The advantages of launching early are that a company gets feedback from users -- even horribly negative feedback -- who are generally more forgiving of apps that are buggy but free, as opposed to those who charge the maximum initially, but fail to deliver the goods.
Because of this, I believe Class Editori's approach is appropriate -- though it must be said that financial papers are in a much better position to charge for access immediately.
The apps themselves are nothing special, unfortunately: simple flipbooks of the print editions, without added content of rich media. The value to the paper is clearing promotional. For the reader, the advantage is having their paper in the tablet format. We'll see if Class Editori and Nexus Srl improve on their apps from this modest start.