Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Tennessean releases its first tablet edition; app will need an update to improve performance, and a business model to make it worth the effort

The Gannett owned The Tennessean has released its first iPad app for its Nashville newspaper, but the app crashed several times on my first generation iPad and initially failed to load the articles.
One would expect that an app update may be around the corner for this one.

The Tennessean is a free app that also does not charge for access to the content. The app has a very small and insufficient app description does not mention anything about charging in the future, so I really am confused by this one.

Another thing that confused me is that this app says it was released by The News-Press Media Group, and that the seller is Multimedia Holding Company – Gannett's name can only be found in the legalese found under Information.
The app itself was created by centresource interactive agency out of Nashville. It is possible that this app wasn't tested on a first generation iPad, or other development errors.

Or... it could be that my iPad is misbehaving (it's possible, I have the new beta version of iTunes on my computer right now, though I do not have iOS 5 on the iPad (I do on my iPhone).

So let's skip the performance issues for a second and just look at the app. The Tennessean iPad app gives you both portrait and landscape modes.

In portrait it looks a bit like a newspaper, though there is no variation in headline font sizes immediately gives away the fact that the content is coming in via RSS feeds.
In landscape the left column is taken up by the sections, a terrible waste of real estate. In addition to Top Headlines there is News, Sports, Business, Entertainment, Life, Opinion and Communities, which itself breaks off into sections for local news. There is also Photo Galleries.

What is missing, of course, are those sections devoted to advertising like classified, automotive, real estate. So, no subscription or single copy purchase required, no advertising sections, and no advertising – I guess The Tennessean is doing so well they can give it all away.