Monday, December 13, 2010

New Hampshire Union Leader launches tablet edition; free iPad app is a better eye test than a newspaper

One way to guarantee that your e-editions don't eat into your print edition sales is to offer truly awful e-editions. The new iPad editions from Freedom Communications is one good example of this philosophy at work. And now the New Hampshire Union Leader has offered another good example.
The new iPad app from the conservative daily from Manchester, New Hampshire, gives readers a true replica edition experience: no links, no multimedia, just the print edition shrunk down for the iPad's display. Yes, the app offers pinch-to-zoom so that reading is possible, but since stories in the print edition jump from the front page, the reader will be swiping to find the rest of their stories because, you know, we wouldn't want to make the iPad edition easier to read than the print edition.

One almost gets the feeling that no one at the NHUL actually owns an iPad. If they did they would have been able to see the way good newspaper apps work for other properties and know that a replica edition such as this really isn't a very good idea. I'm not a fan of replica editions, in general, but some European papers have made fairly decent iPad apps by making sure links allow readers to make jumps to finish stories, and have additional photography and sometimes video embedded in them.

But maybe the point here is to show readers that there is no future in tablets. That is probably why this app is free.

Left: a pulldown menu provides some navigation help; Right: tiny page thumbnails are a good eye test for readers, but a lousy way to navigate the app. Imagine what a Thanksgiving edition would look like?!