Thursday, April 28, 2011

Groupon releases iPad app to attract new users

There is a tiresome debate among some media writers about the wisdom of native apps versus the web. One mobile media columnist was 100 percent against apps until recently hired by a major newspaper that does apps, now he is for apps – amazing what a raise in pay will do to some people's opinions.
I've never bought into the debate, however: you do native apps because a native app can do things a website can't, whether it is animation, layout, ease of navigation, whatever. But when an app is simply a substitute for the website then the wisdom of launching an app can be called into question.

The new iPad app from Groupon is like this. Groupon HD is basically an app version of the website, only less easy to use. The free app does feature a few app-like features like popout windows, but of course this can be done with the web, as well, if desired.

What the app doesn't have, however, is a landscape mode. That means that if your tablet is often found in this orientation, and mine is almost always that way when sitting on my desk because of the cover, then the app ends being less useful than the website.

The advantage of the app, of course, is its marketing value: new users will see the app in the App Store, and current users will be encouraged to download it, as well. Since the app is free, the intent here is just to encourage more sales, so what's the harm, right?

Groupon had previously launched two iPhone apps: one for users, the other for merchants to assist them in redemptions.

TNM readers may start to notice that I will be increasing the size a bit of the media app screenshots. I think they have been posted a bit small, forcing casual readers to click to enlarge. Many readers stop by and read only one story, typical of a blog, and don't bother to click on the pictures. Larger versions of the "thumbnail" shots will be helpful for them.

In the 16 months this site has been live TNM has posted over 2,600 pictures, mostly screenshots of mobile and tablet apps, as well as a few of website home pages.