Thursday, December 16, 2010

Morning Brief: tons of app updates -- a reminder to publishers that mobile should be treated differently than print; Condé Nast looks to monetize its free apps

Yesterday afternoon I plugged my phone into my computer to pull off a couple of screenshots. But before plugging it in I made sure to check if there were any app updates waiting in iTunes. Sure enough, there they were -- 18 of them.
For anyone who owns an iPhone, iPad (or both), this is a common experience, especially after Apple has updated the OS. Some have complained that developing an app for iOS or Android is a pain because of the need to constantly update their apps. Publishers, the thinking goes, just aren't used to this kind of thing.

But those complaints are wildly misguided. Users actually love updates. App updates are like getting something for free and publishers need to take advantage of this as often as they can.

Apple certainly knows how to take advantage of updates. Yesterday it updated its iBooks app by adding the ability to print via AirPrint. It also added some illustrated books to its offerings, as well as made some other minor changes. All for free, of course. The update served as a reminder to users that the app is there and can be a good alternative to the Amazon Kindle app (or others).

But a few media apps were in that batch of updates including updates for apps from the New York Times and Washington Post. And this morning? Seven more apps have updates waiting to be downloaded, including updates to apps from PBS, Flipboard, Xfinity and two local ABC television affiliates.

Condé Nast's Epicurious app was one of the early apps launched for the iPad back in April. The company did a good job with its app and new iPad owners downloaded the app in huge numbers. The app, though, was/is free and now Condé Nast would no doubt like to find ways to capitalize on its new product.

On Tuesday the company updated the app and added a few features including the ability to sync recipes with the app. There is a one-time charge of $1.99, a minor fee really. But I would guess that the company would like to see how many of its users (who can use the app on the iPhone and iPod touch, as well as the iPad) sign up for the feature.

Idea: a recipe aggregation app. (Donations from developers appreciated.)