Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Tablet-only newspaper, The Daily, releases a 'special edition' for the iPad: The Daily's Pro Football Guide 2011

One of the points I've tried to stress, when discussing tablet editions for newspapers, is the ability of the paper to produce special sections once they have gotten the hang of the whole app development process. A perfect example of this is The Daily's new NFL preview app, released a couple of weeks into the season (yes, it's late).
The free app, The Daily's Pro Football Guide 2011, is an interesting experiment in its own right. First of all, to repeat, it's free – that means that there is no app revenue model here. Further, it is advertising free, a head scratcher if there ever was one – not even a single sponsor.

The app is meant to be used in portrait mode, though it does work in landscape. I assume the developer designed the app this way to cut down on the size of the app itself. What the app has in portrait is the animations: the extra content that pops up when you tap on a button, and the animated charts and graphs. It all works fairly well, and since it is free the rather sparse video content will be perfectly acceptable to most readers (the app has gotten good reviews so far in the App Store.

In the end, the two biggest problems with this app are that 1) it should have been released a couple of weeks ago (it's possible that the NFL lock-out messed with the scheduling here); and 2) there is no viable business model that I can see for an app like this one.

The whole purpose of a special section like a Football Preview section is, of course, to drive advertising. So if an app comes out that is both free and without advertising one starts to search for other reasons (besides experimentation) to produce the app. Is the publisher trying to drive their fantasy business, for instance? Nope. Are they trying to get customer names? Nope, no registration process here that I can see.

Beyond that little detail (business plan) this is still miles ahead of where other newspapers are right now as far as producing special sections for a tablet. Then again, you'd expect that from the first tablet newspaper produced, right?

Left: the second page which serves as a TOC; Middle: the third page contains a lead-in video which can be viewed in landscape, but can not be streamed via AirPlay; Right: the 49ers page, my team, which will most likely blow their chances to draft Andrew Luck next year by winning more than one game.