Thursday, December 22, 2011

App updates to Modern Luxury apps highlight the sameness of many apps from the same publisher

There is nothing like a side-by-side comparison of newspapers and magazines inside the App Store to show that, like your corner 7-11, many publishing products today are cookie cutter replicas of each other. Such a comparison wouldn't have been possible in the past.

BlueToad today issued more updates to the Modern Luxury replica editions including Atlantan for iPad, Dallas for for iPad, DC for iPad, and Angeleno, as well as many more. Since these are free magazines that do not require a subscription to access, readers are generally fairly generous in their reviews as few want to complain about getting a something for nothing.
In the past, magazine readers would visit their local Borders (no more) and see a few city magazines on the newsstand – generally their local magazine plus some for exotic destinations like Paris or Hawaii.

But thanks to digital newsstands, we can see how similar magazines are from the same publisher, how the same formulas are at play, and how expensive photo shoots can be justified when the expense is spread out among a portfolio of magazines. (To their credit, the editors did not make the mistake of using the same shot for their covers.)

Of course, this is the Modern Luxury formula at work, and I am in no position to criticize the approach as I have not seen their P&Ls, nor am I the target audience for these publications, being older and without an inheritance to look forward to.

But it is worth checking out Apple's Newsstand today and to wonder whether it is really a good idea to release a wave of updates for similar magazines on the same day.

Likewise, I've written about similar looking newspaper apps and how replica or native designed apps sometimes make newspapers, that otherwise have distinct personalities, look the same – usually bland.

Is this important? Probably not, though I'd personally have to wonder how much a newspaper or magazine really reflects my own local community when I can see inside the App Store other publications that appear to be clones.