Wednesday, June 22, 2011

U.S. and German magazines create native iPad apps, but take different approaches to development and sales

Sometimes it is interesting to look at tablet editions side by side to see the choice publishers make when developing their tablet editions. One may opt for a replica, another for a native app, for instance.
Hearst Communications continues to launch tablet editions for its magazines, but is remains shy about committing to Apple's in-app subscription policies. As a result, each new edition of Esquire, for instance, will cost you $4.99 – and if you are a print subscriber, well, tough luck.

The recently launched (and very recently updated) app for Food Network Magazine opts for the paid app approach: $3.99 to download, rather than offering a free app with a purchase from within the app. Since this issue is labeled "Summer 2011", one can assume that the publisher does not intend, at least for now, to offer monthly editions, unlike the magazine itself.
The emphasis here is ease of use, simplicity, utility. The app is 194 MB, reduced in size by the absence of a landscape mode.

The most popular feature of the iPad version is its in-app shopping list which lets you compile a list from the recipes, then let's readers email that list to themselves. It's actually pretty low tech really, since there are other ways to handle this including utilizing iOS printing. But it works and so far have been positive, save a few comments about app bugs.

SZ Magazin from the Munich based daily newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung is also a native app version of the print magazine – or at least it was until it was pulled suddenly from the App Store. In the original app description there was no mention of a required in-app purchase for the issue (only 99 cents) so that might have been where the app ran into trouble.

But assuming the magazine appears again soon, you might want to download it just to see some of the interesting things inside. This tablet edition creates a library where the downloads are post installation – and a bit slow. This app, though, gives you both landscape and portrait views, but otherwise is fairly simple, as well. (The ad from Mercedes-Benz utilizes both orientations and contains embedded video.)

The app could use pinch to zoom because several times I wanted a better view of a picture, but otherwise I found it easy to use.
Of course, one just has to mention the crossword puzzle that is in the app and which I tried to replicate with an animated GIF here.

Süddeutsche Zeitung, for the record, has a daily circulation of around 440,000 and is Germany's largest broadsheet daily.