Thursday, November 17, 2011

More media apps: The Daily releases 2nd 'special section' in time for the holiday shopping season; Blue Toad moves mag apps such as 'San Francisco' into Newsstand

Let's do a mind experiment: imagine that it is 2006 and you are a ferocious consumer of magazines or other types periodicals. If you want to find out what's new out there you'd have to talk a trip to your nearest newsstand. If you were a publisher you know the headaches involved in launches, right?

But today getting an app into the App Store or the Android Market, while not without some challenges, can be accomplished relatively easily and quickly. I only mention this simply as a reminder of how different the world is looking for publishing, and how fast we've moved into this new world, one that didn't exist, really, before mid-2008.

Back in my newspaper days the special section calendar was always jammed with seasonal sections. Thanksgiving meant the first of a series of gift giving guides. No matter what we might say about the editorial value of these sections, we really knew that these special sections were our one opportunity to pry a few ad dollars out of local retailers who otherwise were hesitant to do any form of newspaper advertising.

The Daily, News Corp.'s tablet-only news product, has released its second "special section". The first involved the new pro football season. Their second is called Gadget Guide, and is essentially a seasonal gift guide, though that features some pretty expensive items.
From the Technology Editors of The Daily comes The Gift and Gadget Guide, a meticulously curated collection of the finest consumer electronics, apps, games, and high-tech toys to be released in 2011. With a nod to retro futurism, The Gift and Gadget Guide showcases 200 products with stunning photography, gorgeous design, and snappy writing. Every item and product can be purchased directly from the app or shared with friends. And we guarantee there’s something in here for everyone’s wish list from a $20 flash drive to a $186,000 sports car. From gadgets you never knew existed to other toys you just can’t live without, The Daily’s Gift and Gadget Guide is your one stop shop for this holiday season and beyond. – App Description
Like the NYT, which this week released a fashion app called NYT The Collection, this app is doing what newspaper publishers have been doing for years, producing special themed products to capture incremental ad dollars or to serve a reader niche.

The lesson is crystal clear: if you are capable of producing apps in-house you can produce these specialty products; if can not, or have farmed out this task, you are not in the game.

Yesterday I mentioned in a post that Apple's Newsstand had punched it way through the 500 mark, thanks mostly to a bunch of replica editions released by the vendor community.

One day later the number of publications inside of the U.S. version of Newsstand is at 546.

BlueToad, a developer of replica edition apps, has released five new apps that readers will be able to find inside Newsstand for their client Modern Luxury. These include San Francisco Magazine, Manhattan, CS (which stands for Chicago Style), Atlantan, and Angeleno.

The apps and their content are free, and all can be found under the name of the developer, BlueToad, not the name of the publisher. Readers are immediately invited to subscribe for free inside the app when they first open them up.

The apps include text versions of the stories found inside the replica editions – sort of like printing a magazine using 4 pt type, then including a magnifying glass to help people read them. The problem of readability could be solved by simply creating an app with fonts appropriate to the medium to begin with, but I guess I'm beating a dead horse on this issue, right?