Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Italian Job - Part 1: a quick look at some of the recently released replica edition iPad apps

The U.S. iTunes App Store is a confusing mess -- this everyone in media pretty agrees -- caused by the fact that almost all news apps, whether English language or not is included in the store. Occasionally, like with Bild (a German magazine app) the developers understand that the U.S. market will not be interested and so they limit the availability of their app.

Recently a handful of apps from Italian newspapers have been released. None break much new ground compared, for instance, with the newest version of the New York Times iPad app. But Italian newspapers, unlike their American cousins, appear eager to make their papers available on the tablet, rushing to develop and release apps.

The app from publisher Gruppo Editoriale L’Espresso for Alto Adige is now, I guess, a collector's item. The developer has pulled the app from the iTunes store completely. Even a check of the Italian app store shows no traces of the app. Very strange.

I don't know if developer of this app is the same as that of La Repubblica's iPad app, Paperlit, but I know that the Italians were very quick to launch iPad apps once Apple launched the iPad in Europe. My coverage of the International launch back in May included a number of Italian newspapers.
The biggest complaint from Italian readers of La Repubblica +, the iPad app for the newspaper, is that a subscription is required, and single copy sales are not available -- that and crashing, of course.

But while this new app is essentially just a replica edition with subscription plan, the La Repubblica app has added a few features including multimedia content and text versions of stories.

As we look at the next two tablet editions from Italian newspapers, one thing comes into focus: replica editions are the norm.