Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Introduction of Newsstand leads to two million app downloads for Future Publishing; the number of newspapers inside Newsstand remains small

Future Publishing waited until the introduction of Apple's latest mobile operating system update to launch tablets apps for its portfolio of magazines. But when iOS 5 hit the street so did over 50 magazine titles, all inside Newsstand, Apple new app for magazines and newspapers that use its subscription services.

The results, Future Publishing says, have been incredible: over two million downloads of this magazine apps in just under a week.

“Future had sold more digital editions in the past four days through Apple’s Newsstand than in a normal month," Future UK CEO Mark Wood said. "It’s clear that Newsstand creates an amazing opportunity for publishers – and I’m committed to continue driving our brands through this great new distribution channel."

Newsstand requires that you use Apple's in-app subscription services, though the subscription price can be set to Free, especially useful if you are a controlled circulation B2B title. But Newsstand also allows for publishers to include several pages of sample content to entice buyers, a feature a lot of publishers and developers have so far failed to take advantage of.

“We plan to include more sampler issues in every magazine container in coming weeks, as well as uploading high price-point bookazines and premium one-shot titles,” Wood promised.

As of today there are 280 periodicals to be found in Newsstand, but surprisingly very few newspapers are currently available. The Guardian launched its first tablet edition on the day iOS 5 launched, and the New York Times updated both its iPhone and iPad apps in order to appear inside Newsstand.

Hearst's San Francisco Chronicle also issued an update to make its app Newsstand compliant, and The Oklahoman also jumped on the Newsstand bandwagon.

But as of this afternoon I counted only 13 or 14 newspaper apps that are Newsstand compliant (I'm sure I missed a couple), and many of those come from Exact Editions whose replica editions were made eligible for Newsstand by the vendor.

Only France Soir is from France, The Guardian from the U.K., and there are several German language newspapers who have issued new apps or updates to appear in Newsstand including the Berlin paper Der Tagesspiel and WirtschaftsBlatt from Austria.

Part of the reason for this is that in the U.S. many newspapers have launched free apps that mirror their websites more than their print editions, and in Europe several newspaper groups have publicly claimed that they would avoid dealing with Apple when it comes to sharing revenue from subscriptions (how's that working out for them so far?).