Wednesday, January 19, 2011

New iPhone apps from The Guardian have split personality whether you are in the UK or US

Over the last week The Guardian has released two new iPhone apps, one was released last week for the US market, and one for the UK and elsewhere. It's an interesting approach which may infuriate readers of the newspaper that do not reside in the States.
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The new Guardian app in the US App Store is not terribly different than their previous iPhone app -- which still works, by the way. The new app is free to download and continues to give free access to the content. It now includes ads using Apple's iAd platform. This morning I saw ads from Walgreens, Progressive Insurance and YellowPages.com.

There are some content changes, as well, which enhance the app and definitely make it worth a download.

The new UK app, which I also found in most other App Stores (though it would be impossible to check them all out) is also free, but requires a subscription be paid to access the content. The good news for UK readers is that the charge is nominal: £2.99 for six month subscription, and £3.99 for a full year of access.

I suppose since The Guardian has placed itself firmly in the no-paywall camp, this may be looked upon as hypocritical of them to charge, but it makes good business sense as far as I'm concerned. In fact, at such low rates it would have made sense to charge in the US, as well, though I understand their motives here.

"The App Store has come a long way over the past 12 months and now forms a major part of the way we deliver content to our mobile audience, whose expectations are, rightly, rising," said Jonathon Moore, the Guardian's product manager in their own story on the new app.

""With the new app we'll be launching more frequent updates, offering a broader range of content and bringing you a better experience. This means ensuring we can meet the associated development costs. The best way to provide this in the longer term, we believe, is to move to a subscription model – and at £2.99 for six months and £3.99 for 12 months, we believe the new app represents excellent value for money," Moore said.

Still to come is a new Android mobile app, as well as the long awaited iPad app. My guess: expect the iPad app after Apple releases iOS 4.3 -- unless The Guardian intends to not charge for content, in which case it could come out at any time.

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Left: The new Gallery feature; Middle: Audio content; Right: "More".

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