Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Publishers show disrespect for their own readers by accepting cheap, poorly designed replicas from vendors

While Apple celebrates the fact that their iPad tablet now has thousands of apps available for it in the App Store, users are well aware that a huge number of those apps are garbage: badly designed apps only developed to lure in the naive. Apps are the new Wild West.
What is amazing, however, is how many of these garbage apps come from media companies, especially newspapers. Each week brings more new apps, developed by third party vendors that are often no more than digital versions of the print edition, shrunk down to the size of the iPad's display. If these replica editions are virtually unreadable on the iPad, how readable will they be on a seven inch display?

No matter, it is clear that many newspaper publishers do not care in the least. Their goal is to get something, anything into the App Store before they are accused of being dinosaurs.

Sadly I am beginning to see a new trend: digital replica editions launched as an alternative to native designs. The Oklahoman, for instance, released a tablet edition back in October that was fairly well received by readers, though quite a number complained about the price.

But for some reason the paper has now released an app from Olive Software, a maker of flipbooks, that is a replica of the print edition. The Oklahoman Print Replica is still priced the same as the native app, so it doesn't solve the price issue. So why does this app even exist?

I attempted to test the app but found it completely unresponsive to attempts to access the same issue - constantly giving me the same warning message despite following the app description instructions. I quickly gave up, after all, why would I want to read a replica edition on an iPad anyway.

In the meantime, The Oklahoman has issued an update its older app that regular users claim makes the app unusable. Since I don't have a paid subscription, and can access the content for seven days as a trial, I did not experience any major problems, though I did find the app 'sticky' in its navigation.