Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Spanish daily El País releases tablet edition that incorporates streaming radio and social networking

Spain's largest selling non-sports newspaper, El País (circulation around 390,000), has released its first tablet edition for the iPad. Previous to this free iPad app's release, the newspaper's name has graced iPhone apps for their website, as well as an app for the World Cup (won, in the end, by Spain -- good decision, huh?).
El País is considered the newspaper of record of Spain and is owned by Grupo Prisa which owns other media properties including radio stations. Two of these stations, Cadena SER (a news, sports and talk station) and Los 40 Principales (a Top 40 station) are built right into the app, offering streaming content while you read. (Les Echos, the French financial newspaper offers classical music in its app, as well.)

I have to admit that I just love the idea of incorporating radio content into a newspaper app -- though I could see that this would be difficult in the U.S. because of media regulations.

The El País app gives you access  to sections and the two  streaming radio stations at the bottom of the page.

The app is free to download and for now offers its users free access to content thanks to a single sponsor, BBVA Banca Privada. The app description does not give us a clue as to whether this is temporary.

The app also offers the, now usual, social networking integration with Facebook and Twitter. The tablet edition also offers both portrait and landscape modes.

When you look closely at the app you begin to see that it is really an RSS reader. The main column down the middle of the landscape page is really just bringing in stories as it would on the iPhone app. On the left side, however, the paper has decided to promote the paper's blogs. On the paper's website this is just another section choice -- here it has prominence.

Like a lot of newspapers who have taken their tablet editions seriously, El País has seen that it is better to build their tablet edition off of their website rather than off of their print edition. First, the content ends up being more up-to-date; second, production is easier since content can be streamed into the tablet edition automatically instead of having to be converted as it would in a replica edition.

The downside of this approach, however, is that you must, must incorporate a download option for offline reading. The Financial Times app, for instance, has a download button built in; the New York Times, on the other hand, simply gives you a warning message, then displays the last version seen since being opened.

The El País app is a bit like the NYT in that it gives you a warning message that you are offline, then displays the last RSS news feeds that it has accessed. The blogs, however, disappear.