Monday, December 12, 2011

Publishers need to match print content if they want to charge for their tablet editions: German publisher updates Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger iPad app, moves it into Newsstand

This morning I noticed a number of new newspaper and magazine apps inside Newsstand as the number of publications available on the iPad version of Newsstand is close to reaching the 1,000 mark. One of those new additions is the Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger.
The publisher, M. DuMont Schauberg, has updated the app for the Kölner Stadt-Anzeige while its sister app for the Frankfurter Rundschau awaits the addition of Newsstand support.

As both apps appear to be native in design, rather than PDF replicas of the print paper, I was struck by the fact that readers are rather divided in their opinions of the apps. The iPad app for the Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger, for instance, has quite a number of five-star reviews, but an equal number of one-star reviews. What are readers complaining about?

Two things stand out in the negative reviews, and publishers would be wise to take the complaints seriously. First, many readers complain about the limited content to be found versus the print edition.

Die App hatte Potential wenn - und das ist ein großes, alles entscheidendes wenn - sie tatsachlich den gesamten Print Inhalt hatte (tut sie nicht) und einen ordentlichen, evtl. regional anpassbaren Lokalteil hatte (tut sie nicht). Beides ist eigentlich unverzeihlich.

The app had potential if - and this is a big, crucial if - they actually had the entire print content (it does not) and a proper, possibly regionally customizable local section had (it does not). Both are really inexcusable.
This complaint probably wouldn't be voiced if this were a paid app. But the expectation for any app requiring a subscription is, of course, that the digital product deliver the same (or more) content than the print version.

The second complaint, which most publishers are probably used to, is cost – that is, the price is too high – or, at least, too high based on the amount of content delivered.
Als Abonnent der Papierausgabe sind die Kosten für das Abo deutlich zu hoch. Die Grenze liegt bei mir bei 5 euros. Zu dem aktuellen Preis wird die App. ein Gimmick bleiben, dass man allenfalls nutzt, wenn im Ausland keine Papierausgabe greifbar ist.

As a subscriber to the paper edition, the cost of the subscription is clearly too high. My limit is 5 euros. At the current price of the app, this remains a gimmick that you use mostly, if are abroad and the Paper edition is not available.
One way many publishers overcome the price issue is to give the digital version away free to print subscribers – those that charge their print customers for digital usually face a torrent of criticism. Those that force the customer to choose often discount the digital slightly to encourage digital delivery. But if they don't they had better make sure they are delivering all the sections of the paper or else readers will shy away.