Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Italian Job - Part 2: a quick look at some of the recently released replica edition iPad apps

The second app we'll look at from an Italian newspaper is for La Provincia di Cremona e Crema from Societa Editoriale Cremonese s.p.a.
The iPad app is free to download. Readers then download the edition and can see the front page, but then must decide if they wish to buy a single copy or a subscription.

The problem with this app is apparent immediately: downloading the paper takes forever.

The app has a fair amount of features for a replica app such as sending pages to friends as an e-mail clipping, archiving, and managing your account online. But the pain of downloading the editions is not made up for by the product itself.
I will admit I am of two minds when it comes to the use of the replica model for newspapers: one part of me understands that the iPad is about the best reading device we've come up with -- other than print, and for many, the ability to read their daily newspapers on their tablets was a big reason they bought their iPad; but tablets such as the iPad have created a new platform for publishers, one where there will be new reading behavior as well as new content requirements.

Some publishers, like the NY Times, have concluded (consciously or not) to build their tablet editions off their websites not their print editions, believing (rightly) that their web content is the most up-to-date available, and using feeds to populate their tablet products is a simple and reasonable solution (versus creating a tablet product from their print PDFs).

But what if your website looks like this: the website of La Provincia. Definitely not an example of a web first approach, is it?

So what are the most popular news apps in the Italian App Store you ask? The favorite paid news apps are pretty much the same as the most popular in the U.S.: the Pulse News Reader, Instapaper and other RSS feed readers. Interestingly, the French paper Le Monde is listed seventh in the paid category. The only home grown app making the list is for Il Fatto Quotidiano per Abbonati, though it appears to be a replica edition as well, but one that employs the look of iBooks -- maybe that, plus a low price is what is satisfying Italians.

The free app category, though, is dominated by Italian newspapers such as La Repubblica, La Gazzetta dello Sport and others. Only the New York Times for iPad breaks into the top ten.

At the very top of that list is the new app from Il Messaggero, and that is what we'll look at next.