Friday, November 19, 2010

The Economist releases first apps for the iPhone and iPad; current paid subscribers get free access to content

The Economist has released its first set of apps, separate apps for the iPhone and iPad -- both free to download and with at least some free access to content for new customers.
While both The Economist on iPhone and The Economist on iPad are free to download, total access will require that you are a print or online subscriber. Both apps provide their users with free access to "the editor’s weekly selection of must-read articles".

The new apps do not contain a lot of bells and whistles. The editors do not appear interested in enhanced content like animation, embedded video or other content created specifically for these e-editions.

More surprisingly, there is no attempt to make these apps timely -- there will be no updates to content. If there is a major economic crisis, for instance, (think: Ireland) you will have to use your browser or someone else's app to learn what's going on. This is simply all about converting the weekly edition of The Economist to the iPhone and iPad -- and if you get my drift here, this is a huge mistake, and one that seems to be made by print people all the time. I would not be surprised if at some later date they revisit this decision.

So the goal here is simple: drive more sales of The Economist. According to The Guardian story on the apps, the financial weekly wants to acquire 1 million digital users in the next three years.

"Our readers have always preferred the Economist in print because it is a lean-back, immersive reading experience," said Oscar Grut, the Economist's managing director of digital editions, was quoted as saying. "The internet has not been a threat so far, because it cannot replicate this reading experience."

Left: the app opens to the log-in/registration page; Right: each article
offers you the choice of having it be read to you by a news reader.

The Economist promises that each Thursday evening (in London, afternoon in NYC) the paper will have its e-editions ready to be downloaded.

Current subscribers will be able to access the copy free-of-charge, bypassing Apple's App Store. This is possible because Apple has always allowed publishers who currently charge for online access to pass along their mobile and tablet products as ride alongs. For those publishers who continue to allow unlimited free access to their web content, this option is not available. In other words, if you want to launch your first iPad edition the same way you have to begin charging for web access.

Although I think The Economist will regret not incorporating a way to do breaking news, this isn't just a replica edition. Stories are formatted into a native design for easier reading. In fact, the art direction here is almost identical to that of the NYT and Financial Times. It simply works.

If you are a loyal reader of The Economist these apps will be much appreciated. In fact, I would say that for many people, myself included, "reading" the financial weekly on the iPad, and listening to the stories on the iPhone may be the best way to experience the products.

That is not to say that these first apps are finished products. The Economist has included this text in its iPhone app description:
We have become aware of a 'Startup failed' error on the iPhone and we are working to rectify it.

The temporary solution is to delete the app from your device and then re-install and login/register while connected to Wi-Fi. We are working on a fix and will update as soon as possible.

We apologise for the inconvenience.
The Economist has produced its own promotional video for their apps which you can see here:

Back in March of this year, a bit more than a week before Apple launched the iPad in the U.S., The Economist's Babbage blogger reproduced a comment from one of his readers who said the following:

If The Economist does not jump into the iPad boat sooner than later, by the time I renew my Economist subscription it could be already too late for this publisher as I would have already spent my allocated budget “to get informed” with plenty of other magazines (on my iPad). You’d say I could read The Economist online, but reading blogs is not reading a newspaper, and I do want to read your newspaper. So folks, you better start working on your iPad version!

The response from Babbage was "The wheels are turning" -- meaning that the weekly was already starting to develop (or at least think about) their own iPad product.

Morning Brief: Developers rush to update their apps; everyone can predict the future, expect those that can't

Media app developers continue to flood the iTunes App Store with app updates in preparation for Apple's iOS update expected next week. The update, though rather minor for the iPhone, is a major upgrade for the iPad. The update will bring multitasking, folders, AirPlay and other features to Apple's tablet.
For media apps that involve audio streams, developers are making sure they can play in the background, allowing users to listen to music, news and other radio content while at the same time allow them to look at other media apps, play games, etc.

The update to iOS 4.2 was announced for "November" but was really expected last week. Certain issues have apparently delayed its release to the public. A new version of the OS was delivered to developers this week, and assuming no new issues arise we should be set to see the update very soon.

I find it difficult to understand why media writers continue to believe they are omnipotent and can predict the future of media. Guess what, if they can do it, maybe they should stop being media writers and try their hand at the stock market.

Nonetheless, we continue to see these types of stories popping up, and the media aggregators (really, they're thieves) continue to link to them or reproduce them in their entirety.

Listen, predicting the future of tablet publishing by saying no one is currently making money at it is like saying in 1901 that there was no profits to be made in the auto industry because profits from the horse trade still dwarfed that of cars.

Until enough people own a tablet there is no chance tablet publishing can be profitable. Those that are "succeeding" today are those that are establishing their brands, selling a few apps and issues, building and training their staffs, and creating and experimenting with strategies.

But American media in particular is obsessed with "analysts" who say they can pick the winners. It is one reason, by the way, many now believe American journalism is in a new dark ages.

Posting will be light next week due to the Thanksgiving holiday here in the U.S. Plus its time to take a little time off of the daily blog grind.

But I'd like to thank those that are regular readers. Although this site gets few comments, I know this is actually true of most media sites -- so I don't take it personally. Traffic here has actually increased to levels close to late Spring when I had the morning e-newsletter going, and was more actively promoting the site.

I especially appreciate the feedback I get from my European media colleagues -- thank you for your e-mails and IMs.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Donation journalism faces tough times as Washington Independent and New Mexico Independent shut down

Yesterday the Washington Independent and the New Mexico Independent both announced they were shutting down. The New Mexico Independent website immediately began posting stories from other sources, while the Washington Independent site showed its sad announcement. It, too, will begin mirroring content from other American Independent News Network sites soon.
For a newspaper and magazine publisher like myself, the idea behind the business model of the American Independent News Network is not attractive to me -- I suppose I've never seen this business as charity work. But I suppose I would say that I'm open to any model that can produce results. The one thing that I am adement about is measuring results and adjusting to what those result have to tell us. (Sadly, I know too many media executives who would rather continuing make the same mistakes over and over again in an arrogant demonstration that they are right, no matter what the numbers say.)

Sadly, the results of this type of business model continue to be poor. These efforts remind me in some ways of the old Players League, a baseball league founded by the stars of the sport late in the 19th century. The league had all the star power you would want, but managed to last just one year -- 1890 (the Boston Reds won, by the way). The owners of the existing National League no doubt were pretty sure the players couldn't make it on their own without the owners.

In my view, successful media ventures require an often delicate balance between financial backing, revenue generation, and "the talent" (in the case of news, we are talking about journalists). This three legged stool, you will see, requires that two of the legs involve $$, and all three legs have to be of equal length. In other words, you can't start with journalists and add revenue people as needed -- it's all one business.

I remember a conversation I had with one of my editors a few years back. The company had just opened a new office and we have just moved in. That very first day I said something along the lines of "this place scares me". My editor looked puzzled and asked why. "Look at all these people here, how many of them bring in money." The answer, of course, was zero -- and that was scary.

Retweet: Researchers show that as incomes go down the poor become less likely to support progressive policies

Thanks to the site Naked Capitalism for finding this one: researchers who studied survey questions from 1952 to 2006 found that when incomes begin to go down, the poor begin to become more conservative, less supportive of the types of policies that are designed to help them economically. reported on the work of Peter Enns, assistant professor of government, and Nathan Kelly of the University of Tennessee and their paper which appeared in the October issue of the American Journal of Political Science.

"As inequality rose, the high- and low-income respondents on average become less supportive of spending on welfare," Enns reported. "And this is not because low-income people are unaware of inequality; our results show they are more aware of it than most people."

"It's a bit of a conundrum," Enns admits.

I'd say. But that's modern America for you.

The Daily and The Sunday Telegraph, the second of the two new tablet editions from News Digital Media

Another of the apps released by News Digital Media is one seen at right for The Daily and The Sunday Telegraph, News Corp.'s Sydney-based tabloid. The formula of the newspaper is the same as the Herald Sun (see Morning Brief below), as is the iPad app.
Once again, the app will set you back $5.99, if you are a U.S. buyer. But I really should have gone into the Australian app store to properly look at these apps. There, the app costs $7.99 (Australian dollars). The details there, however, do not say anything about this representing a 31 day subscription, but I would surprised if the formula for this app is any different than the Herald Sun app, which is also $7.99 in the Australian App Store.

The first app released from News was for The Australian, Murdoch's national newspaper. Its price is lower, only $4.99, but the formula is once again the same: buy the app and you get 31 days of access, after that you have to re-up.

Since this app has been available the longest, this is the only one where you can read a fair number of reviews in iTunes -- and the news isn't good. The biggest complaints seem to center on the non-native app features of the app -- that is, too much of a replica edition, not enough native programming features (scrolling, swiping, pinch-to-zoom).

I can't believe that when the time comes for the new Murdoch tablet daily newspaper to arrive that it will look anything like these Australian newspaper apps.

Morning Brief: Murdoch's Herald Sun launches paid iPad app; as expected, Android ad requests catch up to iOS

While we are waiting for the appearance of Rupert Murdoch's pure play -- his iPad-only daily tablet newspaper -- his other papers continues to launch their own tablet efforts. The latest is for the Melbourne, Australia based Herald Sun.
The morning tabloid is the usual Murdoch fare: sports, crime and celebrities, and I suppose because of this the newspaper enjoys the highest circulation in Australia.
The app is one of the more expensive I've seen: $5.99. But that price is the equivalent of a 31 day subscription, the app details warning customers that after that amount of time they will be prompted to re-subscribe. No freebies for Rupert Murdoch and company.

As this newspaper is not my cup of tea I did not buy the app, but the details listed in iTunes are short on iPad-native features, instead it touts the iPad-only content to be found like videos and exclusive articles, which I have to assume are actually coming from the web.

There is much hand wringing this morning concerning Millenium Media's latest report showing ad requests from Android based mobile devices has caught up with ad requests coming from Apple devices.

Why this should surprise anyone is beyond me. Google has built its mobile platform to have the widest possible adoption so that it could expand its ad network. Apple's goal in creating its iOS devices was profit. Both are winning at their game: Google's Android platform will inevitably become the number one mobile ad platform, and Apple, while not the largest mobile device manufacturer, will continue to lead the industry in profits.

What next? Well, I'm still waiting for a mobile network to reach the tablet format, and I assume Google is on top of that. The ads I've seem coming in from networks on the iPad have been pathetic little ads ported over from the phone version.

But more importantly for media, we still seem to be a ways away from seeing the first good Android based tablet with a display size larger than seven inches. These small tablets from Samsung and RIM may prove successful but they probably won't entice newspapers and magazines to create new products for them due to their smaller size. As they say, we'll see.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Updated NYT app requires registration for complete access; reminds users that paywall is coming next year

The New York Times has just updated its iPad app. With the change, readers will now be required to sign into their NYT accounts in order to get unlimited access to content; new readers will be required to register. The update also reminds iPad owners that their free access is for a limited time as the Times still plans to implement its metered paywall early next year.

Of course, you could decide not to upgrade your app. I did that and still was able to access content without signing into an account. I have a NYT account, but thought it was worth checking out if that was an option. I wonder if this will work when they start their paywall? (doubt it)

By the way, the NYT's David Pogue just totally trashed Google TV.

Internet advertising revenues hits new record level

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP announced today that their estimate of U.S. Internet advertising revenues reached $6.4 billion in Q3 of this year, an all-time high.

“Advertisers are shifting more of their brand messaging online, accounting for this welcome surge in a difficult economy,” said David Silverman, a partner at PwC, said in a statement on the IAB website. “This trend reflects the accelerating shift in consumer behavior towards the internet and away from traditional media.”

The data is an estimate of ad revenue for the third quarter. Full reports are issued by the IAB twice a year for full-year and half-year totals -- quarterly estimates are released for the first and third quarters of the year.

Sporting News launches local Philly edition of its e-daily; Comcast SportsNet to provide local content and ad sales

Jeff Price, the publisher of Sporting News, is a firm believer in strategic alliances. Among his first moves once taking over the helm at the venerable publication was to sign a deal with CineSport to bring in video highlights content, all the better to enhance their website and new platform products.

Today's national Sporting News Today edition for
the iPad along side today's local CSN Philly Edition.

Now Sporting News is working with Comcast's local sports units to create localized editions of their daily Sporting News Today e-product, sold through Zinio. Starting with Philadelphia, Sporting News will offer an edition containing 12 additional pages of local sports content. According to reports Comcast's local sales teams will handle the advertising for these editions, while Sporting News will continue to represent national sales.

The local editions will be sold at $3.99 per month while the national edition will remain $2.99. The new editions will be available for the Mac, PC and iOS devices through Zinio and SNT's own branded app. The Philadelphia edition was easily found online and once ordered appeared on the Sporting News Today branded iPad app (or did I miss it this morning?). Editions for other major cities served by Comcast SportsNet will be launched in 2011.

This move will not only extend the SNT brand but will provide some much needed local content. Unlike European national sports newspapers which can cover sports solely from a national perspective, in the U.S. sports is very localized.

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.

Comcast's releases long awaited XFINITY TV iOS app; cable provider takes a truly Old Media approach

It took a little while, but Comcast finally released the iPad app it had demoed back in May at The Cable Show 2010. At the time, their app seemed cutting edge, but since that show Dish Network beat Comcast to the punch by releasing its own app during the summer.
The new app from Comcast, XFINITY TV, does pretty much what the Dish Network app does: it allows users to browse TV listings, change the channel on their TV (actually, the cable box) and set DVR recordings. Essentially it turns your iPad into a giant remote control. Or, conversely it turns your iPhone into a small remote control.
This is a good start, but after all these months you might have thought that the app would bring much more features. For instance, there is no social networking brought into the app -- no way to tell your friends to watch a certain program.

It is possible that additional features will be built into this app down the road, but I assumed that this app was delayed so long because these features were being developed.

Before I begin to lay into Comcast, let me say that I have two Comcast apps on my phone and iPad that I consider important. The first lets me get e-mail and control my office phone. With it, I can get voice messages, forward the phone, etc. The second app is the new one which we will see over time whether it proves as useful. But . . .

It is clear that Comcast is taking an Old Media approach here.

A New Media approach would have opened up a world of possibilities. First, let's talk about channels. On a cable box channels are listed by number. With their app, a Comcast subscriber can browse and search TV listings -- browse and search. That is, here is our content, go look at it.

So, what would have been a New Media approach? Here is our content, now go and create your own channels.

If my daughter wants to watch Bones at 6pm and Glee at 7pm, why not allow her to drop and drag those programs into her own custom channel -- we'll call it "Meghan's Channel".

A New Media approach -- and I guarantee someone will do this at some point -- will incorporate some of the streaming features soon to be found in the new iOS update into a cable system. In other words, create your own channel where you stream in content from your iPhone or iPad.

This stuff is going to happen. Further, at some point the cable and satellite service providers are going to have to decide whether they want Netflix and Pandora to compete with their offerings, or be built into their offerings.

This new app is nice, but one senses that Comcast is like many newspapers: fighting, kicking and screaming into the new media era.

Morning Brief: Europe debt crisis goes away, at least for a while; The Irish Times looks at the view from outside

Good morning:

For at least one day at least all the troubles of the world went away, vanished, poof-gone. The Irish debt crisis went away, the war in Afghanistan went away, the recession went away. All because some rich kid in England announced he was getting married. As that new Windows Phone 7 commercials says: "really!?"

Meanwhile, back in the real world, away from The Guardian's and New York Times's royalty fetish, the European debt crisis really does continue and is apparently reaching a crescendo. The WSJ believes "Ireland Will Win This Game of Bluff", but gives away its motivation by stressing claiming that Ireland wants to retain "its ultralow corporate-tax rate".

According to the Financial Times it "the “attack” on the euro that had prompted Ireland to seek assistance from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund."

While the much of the world is focused on events in Ireland (when it is not royal watching), The Irish Times was looking back, givings its readers the take from outside the island.

Their article included excerpts from stories from the WSJ, the BBC, Le Monde, The Guardian and other sources. I found the way they treated links interesting: none of the excerpts were linked directly, instead they created a sidebar where all the links could be found.

A story that is starting to gain traction, and that editors will ignore at their peril, concerns airport security. This story gives a feeling about why this is starting to be a big story.

The abuses of privacy is one area where both the Tea Party and liberals can find common ground. Just as importantly, the 'movement' is going viral online, and we all know that once that happens things can really take off.

Under my "newspaper" search in Google News there were 2,383 stories on Sarah Palin today. Really?

As Brad DeLong likes to say "Why oh why can't we have a better press corps?"

Comcast finally released its long promised iPad app. Released as XFINITY TV, the app serves as a remote control for its TV services -- a closer look to come later this morning.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

RIM goes directly after the iPad in its new YouTube video for the soon-to-be-released BlackBerry Playbook tablet

The folks at Research in Motion (RIM) have uploaded a demonstration video of their new BlackBerry Playbook on to YouTube which you can see below. The video shows "Matthew" from the web browser group at RIM showing the superior rendering speed of their new tablet.

The demo video is pretty impressive, and there is no doubt that the iPad's processor speeds are going to seem slow compared to some of the competitors that will soon (we think) be released. For media executives, though, the big issue here continues to be the size of the display.

Looking at this video, on which tablet would reading a magazine or newspaper be easier, the seven inch Playbook, or the 9.7 inch iPad?

Nonetheless, competition is good, right? And since Apple currently enjoys a virtual monopoly on magazine and newspaper tablet apps, any new product introduction that will see more people buy these devices in order to consume their publications will be of help to publishers (in theory).

Oprah has an app: not exactly a replica edition and not exactly a native app, will O fans may feel a bit ripped off?

I don't know what to make of the new app from Hearst Communications for O, The Oprah Magazine. Billed as a "taste of the December issue" this app does not deliver the entire issues (and its ads), nor is it organized the same sort of way a magazine would be, but it will still cost you $3.99 nonetheless.
Hearst has been one of those companies that seemed eager to begin developing for the iPad, but instead most of its magazines are only available as replica editions through Zinio, with only Esquire and Popular Mechanics with their only native apps (Marie Claire has a special Fall Fashion app available in the App Store.

Now comes this app for Oprah Winfrey's magazine . . . or is it? This seems more like a product line extension than a real attempt at a tablet edition. A tablet edition would attempt to move the reader through the app the way an editor and art director moves the reader through the pages of a print magazine. Instead, this app takes the content of the magazine, adds in some interactivity, and then seems to throw it at the reader in a haphazard way.

But that's a critique of the app as content, what about the app itself?
The app, which was just recently released, has already received one update. The update only says "Enhanced functionality" -- I really don't know what that means, did someone leave something out.

The app uses swiping and a page viewer to allow readers to navigate around the issue. But once the reader reaches an actual article one sees that this is definitely a modified replica edition -- but without the ads.

An interview with Oprah Winfrey Tyler Perry is almost an exact copy of the print page with no pinch-to-zoom and no scrolling to read the rest of the story, instead one simply swipes to reach the next page, just as one would do with a replica edition. On the second page of the Oprah Winfrey Tyler Perry story there is a video feature Oprah Winfrey Tyler Perry in place of a photograph, but otherwise you wouldn't know this isn't a replica edition.

Except for the ads . . . or the lack thereof. Clearly, based on my snark above, it is clear that I am no fanboy, but I wonder if readers of O, The Oprah Magazine aren't like a lot of magazine readers -- they enjoy the ads as much as the editorial copy.

This is an interesting area to me. A lot of early app reviews in iTunes complain about paying for apps that contain ads. But a lot of research of magazine and newspaper readers show that the ads are part of the content. Would I really want a fashion or bridal magazine without the ads?

It will be interesting to see what app buyers think of this app after living with it a while.

Update: it turns out that I had downloaded the original app, not the updated version -- though it is hard at first blush to see the difference. Having looked at the app another time (my third look at it) I can see that the content upfront has a lot of 'native' features such as animation and such. The back-end features, however, are still pretty much 'replica' in nature which the addition of such things as video content.

I'm still pretty torn about this app -- and it doesn't help that the celebrity worship nature of O itself bothers me -- so I'll just repeat what I originally wrote: it will be interesting to what iPad owners themselves think of the app.

As predicted, Apple hype was all about The Beatles

It all turned out to be very uneventful: Apple's iTunes store will now carry The Beatles music, some forty years after the band released its last LP. Oh well, sucked into Apple's PR machine once again!
One senses this is definitely a personal triumph for their biggest fan, Steve Jobs, because the text description used by Apple in iTunes is incredibly long, wordy . . . well, you can read it here. (One question: does anyone not already own all the Beatles music they would want?)

OK, Apple is now selling The Beatles LPs on iTunes. Now, can we please get that long promised iPad OS update? The latest word is that the update won't show up until the day before Thanksgiving. It better not be buggy or else a lot of Apple engineers will be working the holiday.

Short takes: Ireland at the center of EU worries; The Beatles and Apple; little move turns into big local news

Good morning:
In case you have been too obsessed with you own business issues to notice, you might want to pay attention to the situation in Ireland. Yesterday the news was that representatives of EU nations were pushing the Irish government to accept an EU or International Monetary Fund bailout, while the Irish government insisted it needed no such bailout.

"There is a problem with liquidity in banks, there is no doubt about that, but I don't think that the appropriate response to that would be for European finance ministers to panic," Ireland's minister for European Affairs Dick Roche is quoted by The Guardian as saying. "Ireland doesn't need to trigger any mechanisms because of sovereign debt and the problems in banks are being dealt with."

But there is no doubt people are edgy including the European stock markets which are down sharply, though not drastically this morning. Herman Van Rompuy, president of the EU, is even warning that this crisis could cause a collapse of the EU itself.

Ho, hum. It appears the big news today from Apple will be that they have finally secured a deal to sell downloads for The Beatles. We'll know at 10 ET/7 PT this morning. While most folk will not consider this much news at all, it has been a personal issue with Steve Jobs and the people at Apple who have had to deal with conflicts with Apple Records since the late seventies. Jobs, being a huge Beatles fan, often uses their music while doing demos of new Apple products.

This is actually old news now but it is worth mentioning. Penton Media a while ago made a decision to move a local office out of Loveland, Colorado and relocate to Fort Collins, just up the road. Nonetheless, local papers keep reporting news, showing how sensitive people are right now to the loss of businesses and jobs -- though I've not heard any hint that this move would actually cause any job losses.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Hollywood Reporter launches unique first iPad app: replica edition in portrait, breaking news in landscape

The Hollywood Reporter continues to do things a bit differently. One of seven publications acquired in December from Nielsen Business Media by a consortium of investors led by James Finkelstein to form E5 Global Media, The Hollywood Reporter has been transformed from a from a weekday trade paper into a weekly magazine. Now the magazine has introduced its first iPad edition that is part replica edition, part news app.
The Hollywood Reporter for iPad is a free app that is a completely different product depending on the orientation the iPad owner uses. In portrait mode the user access the latest edition (there is limited access to a "sample> edition). The issues are not cheap: $5.99, a huge increase over the subscription price of the print edition -- but then again, no annual subscription is currently being offered for the iPad.

In landscape mode, the turns into a nicely designed RSS reader bringing 'breaking news'. A rather obnoxious ad pops up, but I suppose that is the price of being able to access the news from the app for free.
(Because there is no 'cookie' mechanism built into the iPad there is no way to stop the same ad from popping up every time you access a news story.)

This two-apps-in-one approach is fairly unique. Sure, there are lots of magazine apps that take advantage of using both portrait and landscape modes to create slightly different versions of the same product but are doing the same thing The Hollywood Reporter is doing?
This may be a good solution for a number of other publishers, especially B2B publishers. Creating a weekly or monthly iPad edition will not be easy for many publishers, so by creating a replica edition in portrait and an RSS reader in landscape, the publisher can create something that can serve the needs to readers who want access to breaking news, but want to use their iPads as e-readers at the same time.

It will be interesting to see if one of the flipbook vendors who are pushing replica editions can add this RSS reader feature to its bag of tricks to create more interesting iPad apps.

Apple schedules major iTunes announcement for Tuesday

Love 'em or hate 'em, you have to admit that Apple knows how to make a splash. This time they have scheduled an announcement for tomorrow morning (U.S. time) and are promoting the event on its website home page.
Rather than speculate on what the announcement is, I thought I'd simply say this: few companies can duplicate Apple's ability to use all its resources to promote itself. I can not even come close to telling you how many times I've visited a company's website and looked at its own company news only to find the site hadn't been updated in months or even years.

Two new local TV news apps show a marked difference in approaches: ABC7Chicago the third app from ABC Digital

The third iPad app from ABC Digital has been released, this time (surprise) for a local property: ABC7Chicago. Rarely have local stations enjoyed such treatment (and, yeah, I live in Chicago so this one will be a keeper.)
ABC7Chicago HD for iPad follows up apps for ABC News and ABC Player, and like the two previous apps, this one is well designed and programmed and native for the iPad. And like the previous two apps, the only real complaints one can have with this app -- especially because it is free to download and use -- is the actual content which is typical local TV news fare ("Coyote runs loose in Loop street") with the occasional real news story sprinkled in (Report: Restaurant show to stay at McCormick").

The app has some very important elements designed in: font adjustments, social network story sharing, easy and clear navigation, along with the same sort of programming wizardry to be found in the previous ABC Digital apps. Imagine what this team could do with decent content (snark, I suppose).
The three main segments for an app like this would be local news (check), weather (check) and sports (oops). But to access news on da Bears you are redirected to the website. Big mistake but one that might have been forced upon the app by limitations on the use of sports video content.

The again what about all that ESPN content that an ABC affiliate should be able to access? Well, once again, the app redirects you outside the app. The app promotes other apps from ABC, Disney and ESPN which makes sense, but apparently the wall between media divisions is too high to scale. For instance, there is currently an iPhone app for which offers sports video, but there is no iPad version; at the same time this app offers no sports.

The Capitol Broadcasting Corporation New Media Group currently has 68 universal apps in the iTunes App Store, the latest one being for You can search for them under the "My Local TV" umbrella.

Unlike the ABCChicago app from ABC Digital, this one is really designed for the iPhone, not the iPad -- this is simply a mobile app converted into a universal version.
Complete with weather, video and more, the app works fine for mobile phones. But for the iPad the app reveals its weaknesses. First, design: as an iPad app this is a simple RSS reader with layouts designed for a three inch screen. Second, content: there is plenty of content for people on the go, but for those lingering over their media (iPad owners) this reveals the thinness of local media content. For instance, the At the Movies section contains one movie review where full local movie listings would be nice.

Capital Broadcasting should be applauded for their commitment to mobile media. One would hope that in the future they will separate out their apps into mobile and tablet and develop fully native tablet editions.