Friday, July 29, 2011

U.S. News & World Report launches iPad edition; charges paltry 99 cents per month for tablet subscription

At 99 cents, the digital subscription to the new weekly tablet edition of U.S. News & World Report is either a bargain, or a sign that the weekly news magazine is aware of its weak position.

The new free iPad app, U.S. NEWS WEEKLY for the iPad, is a nicely designed tablet edition that allows readers to access a content, though the amount of content is fairly limited, for a subscription price of only 99 cents per month.
Readers who download and install the app are given a choice to either subscribe immediately or download one copy for free. Unfortunately, that one issue may be enough to convince readers to say away.

In portrait the issue features House Speaker Boehner and President Obama on the "cover" with the words "Stalement". But tap on the picture all you want you won't find an article that accompanies the photo.

Instead, the content is rather lightweight stuff that despite the July 28 date for the issue, already feels out of date.
The app also works in landscape, where it is a bit more attractive than the text only equivalent found in portrait. But here again the app gives you the impress that there is a story behind the picture of the House Speaker and the President.

Clicking on the first story one is taken to a rather old fashioned pop-up ad for Fidelity. The ad is button sized, totally out of place on the iPad's 9.7" display - why isn't this ad full screen, or at least much bigger?

When the ad disappears one is taken to the first story, "Secrets of Six First Ladies". Really.

With Washington in crisis, with the phone hacking scandal burning in the U.K., with much of Europe in financial crisis, with the attacks in Oslo, we get a drawing of Ronald Reagan kissing Nancy.

OK, so the news magazine format is outdated, and this magazine is without a clue, but what about the app?

Well, if the content weren't so bad and insulting to my intelligence I might actually like this tablet edition. But one major thing would have to change. Don't charge me 99 cents for a month's worth of weekly issues, charge me 99 cents for a month's worth of access to the contents. There is a huge difference: the world moves way to fast for iPad owners to want to read news reports once a week that were written days ago. Give me a tablet edition that is organized like an old weekly news magazine, but is edited like an Internet news site.

Left: The first feature in the free edition of U.S. NEWS WEEKLY for the iPad; Right: the subscription page where you can sign-up or download the free issue.