Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Daily newspapers in Florida and Utah take different approaches to native tablet edition design

Two newspapers released their initial iPad applications this week, and while both have decided against the replica edition approach, they have ended up producing two very different takes on tablet editions.
The new iPad app for the Cox Media Group newspaper, The Palm Beach Post, is two apps in one: a website news app, and a replica edition of the print edition. Palm Beach Post for iPad is a free app that does not require either registering or paying to access the content.

The website part redesigns their web content into a more native iPad design with scrolling columns. The home page contains one square spot for an, while the stories themselves have a banner running along the bottom. For now at least these are house ads.

The replica part can be found through the top-right navigation where the reader can download that days newspaper, as well as any paper from the past week. Again, there is no charge here and the resulting papers are taken right from the PDFs.
What's interesting about this take on tablet editions is that it brings in both the web and print teams, assuming there is a division there. It does not create a third product, a true tablet edition, but instead tries to port over the two existing editions.

Lee Enterprises app for the Daily Herald takes a different approach. Their app, Daily Herald Utah Valley News, for their 32,000 circulation paper, adopts the box approach which has proved popular since Flipboard launched.

The home page is divided into rows of news from Top Stories at the very top, to News, Video, Photo Galleries, Topics, Entertainment, Opinion, Sports, Weather and then finally Obituaries.

There is a single sponsor on the home page, a square ad, and a banner along the bottom of the article pages – right all are taken by a local grocer.
Both apps have attractive and easy to read article pages, though it would have been nice to have font controls.

Neither paper is charging for content right now. If these were free weeklies I think that would be fine, assuming all the paid ads were brought in. But since these apps are not very friendly towards advertising, I fail to see the long term business model being employed here.

These apps will probably be well received by their readers, though I imagine that the number of downloads will be relatively small for the Utah app simply because of the size of the market being served.

The Cox Media Group app developed for The Palm Beach Post was developed by Mercury Interactive. It should be noted that Mercury Interactive, a company acquired by Hewlett Packard in 2006.

I simply mention this in passing as I found this a head-scratcher.