Thursday, September 29, 2011

French App Store: the most downloaded media news apps are often the ones with the most complaints

Is it that the French are just in a bad mood right now, or are they really as dissatisfied with the quality of the media apps being released by their media companies as the French App Stores seems to show?

A recent survey of French consumers showed that consumer sentiment is falling in France as economic conditions have worsened and the European sovereign debt crisis continues. (French President Nicolas Sarkozy's approval rating has actually climbed recently, but still only 37 percent of French voters approve of his performance.)
The French App Store, meanwhile, is one of Apple's most vibrant European stores. Apple also has nine retail stores in the country, and although most are in Paris or their suburbs, there are locations in Bordeaux, Lyon, Montpellier and Nice.

(Apple should definitely consider expanding beyond this, don't you think?)

Two of the most popular newspaper downloads continue to be from Le Monde Interactif. Le Monde is a paid universal app that gives iPhone and iPad users a modified replica edition. Priced at 0,79€, the app also charges readers 17,99€ per month for a subscription. The dual pay model is not terribly popular with reviewers in iTunes, but the app is, nonetheless, the number paid news app in the store.

Le, which was just updated, is a free app that is currently the fourth most popular free news app download. But the update has gotten plenty of complaints from users in the App Store:

Je viens d'installer la màj, et maintenant quand je lance l'appli, ça reste 5 seconde sur un écran noir marqué "le monde", puis ça me remet sur mon écran d'accueil...Hélas !

I just installed the Update, and now when I run the app, it's still 5 seconds on a black screen labeled "the world", then it gives me on my home screen...Alas!
Reviews inside the French App Store would suggest that French tablet owners would definitely prefer native apps over replica editions. For instance, the app for Le Figaro, which gives readers both a native tablet design plus a PDF version of the newspaper appears to have negative reviews more for bugs that for the app itself, but reviewers definitely say they prefer the native tablet layouts over the replica edition.

But it is hard to say definitely what readers like when they have so many complaints about the programming – crashes, log-in problems, etc.
But the number one free news app remains a newsstand app called Le Kiosque. The app sports one of the more bizarre icons, possibly reflecting the fun attitude of the people behind the app.

Le Kiosque is similar to the Zinio app in the U.S. in that is a digital newsstand of newspapers and magazines. The periodicals are replica editions and can be read online, or using this iPad app (there is no iPhone version).

Le Kiosque was founded in 2008 by Ari Assuied, Robin Sabban, Michael Philippe, Nathaniel Philippe (left to right in the picture) after Philippe searched for a French magazine in New York can could not find it. They realized then that there was a need for a French digital newsstand.

The new update of the app brings in social networking tools and push notifications.

One of the newest French newspaper iPad apps is for Ouest-France, the regional daily newspaper that comes in 47 regional editions, making it the largest French language paper in the world.

Founded in 1944, it was launched following the closing of Ouest-Éclair, which was banned following the liberation for collaborating with the German occupation forces. (As the name would suggest, Ouest-France serves western France, specifically, the Brittany region.)

The original iPad app was released on August 10 and updated a couple of days ago. While the app is free, the individual editions cost 0,79 €.

Unfortunately, this app, too, is getting hammered in the App Store by iPad owners. The problem here, however, seems to be that print subscribers are being forced to pay for the tablet edition as the publisher has left out any log-in mechanism for current customers.

It's pretty hard to draw many conclusions about reader preferences looking at a glance at the French App Store. Just like in the U.S., apps such as Instapaper and Read It Later are doing very well.

Missing, however, from the top ten lists are such apps as Flipboard or Zite, even though they are available in the French App Store (Flipboard has very good reviews inside the French store, so maybe it has simply dropped off the top ten lists recently. There are no reviews, however, for Zite.)

FYI: in the U.S., the number one paid app is Michael Jackson Doctor Trial, followed by the New York Post.