Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Axel Springer releases iPad edition for Hamburg daily

As promised, here is my first look at the latest tablet edition from German publisher Axel Springer AG. The new free iPad app is for the daily newspaper Hamburger Abendblatt -- its rather long, official name is Hamburger Abendblatt HD - Die Zeitung aus Hamburg, and you don't need to know German to kind of figure out what that mean.
The app is a bit like the original New York Times iPad app in that it offers full access to a limited amount of content (as opposed to limited access to the full content). While readers currently can access the content, the press release from the publisher says that there will be an introductory price of 14.99€ per month, with existing subscribers charged 3.99€ for access.

The app uses an unique approach: with three lines of navigation, the app gives readers 24 stories in total, along with photo galleries and video content.
"For decades, we have provided the best information, subtle details and comprehensive analysis – from and for Hamburg and the region," Claus Strunz, Editor in Chief of the paper says. "With the successful approach we’ve used to feature local information, to expand regional news and to further strengthen our nationwide relevance, we are now pleased to be offering our content on this new generation of devices, the tablets. This underscores our position as number one and the clear innovation leader in the north of Germany."

This is all nice to say, but releasing an app that offers limited content and then charging both new and existing customers to access that content is a strange approach. Not surprisingly, there are a number of owner complaints in the German iTunes App Store about the limited content and pricing, as well as a few compliments that mention the unique design.

The publisher used Woodwing's Digital Magazine Solution to create their new tablet edition. The individual issues are bit large when you consider how little content you are actually getting, though this may be the result of the video content. Yesterday's edition weighed in at 78 MB in total. The app features both portrait and landscape modes. (I prefer landscape, but portrait screenshots look nicer in posts!)

Axel Springer AG has released a half-dozen other iPad apps including the well received tablet edition of the Berliner Morganpost, and the not so well received app for the magazine The Iconist (again, the issue is pricing). Their app for Die Welt recently was updated to include landscape mode and additional content.