Thursday, January 26, 2012

Baltimore Magazine gets updated tablet edition, but no icon; app requires that the reader register to subscribe

One wonders how some apps make it through Apple's approval process. While apps have been unfairly rejected, others get in without app icons, and with a subscription process that stretches the App Store rules.
Baltimore Magazine, published by Rosebud Entertainment, has had their iPad updated this morning. You can find it pretty easily in the App Store, it is the app without an icon.

The app is listed under Thumb Media Group, a company currently owned by National Publisher Services, Inc. and Fry Communications, Inc., and not the publisher. This is probably just as well as I wouldn't want my name on this app either.

The free app opens to the library page where readers can buy individual issues, log into their print accounts, or sign up for a subscription. The problem is that the subscription price is not listed – instead a registration form appears that one has to fill out before you can buy a subscription. Some might be led to believe that all one needs to do is register and they will be a subscriber. No, upon completing the form one is then told a subscription is $9.99 for a year (the annual subscription price is clearly explained in the app description, though).

If one chooses not to subscribe there is no way to get back that registration information, of course – one feels like they have just had their pockets picked.

Oops, something is missing on your app, like an icon?

The issues download fairly quickly, but takes a long time to be processed, for some reason. Once you have your issue what you get is a typical replica edition – a PDF-like duplicate of the magazine that is not very enjoyable to read.

The app does have a text feature: if you tap a story up pops a text-only version of the article, making the app more like a Kindle Edition (sans any graphics) rather than a true tablet edition.

It is hard to understand why the publisher would have signed up for this. Their January issue looks pretty damn successful with tons of ads at the front of the magazine – so many that the Publisher's Note doesn't appear until page 28. So why let some vendor do this to your magazine?

But things get worse. Start reading the issue and a banner ad pops up on every page: Medical Malpractice Attorney! The ad even appears on top of full page ads! Yes, and even the cover! Lovely.

There is a button that allows you to close the ad, but it reappears after a few pages.

I've always said that publishers were the easiest people to sell to, they are as gullible as they come. This certainly proves it.
Left: the subscription page makes you register, before presenting you with the annual subscription price; Middle: a banner ad on top of a full-page ad; Right: replica editions remain difficult to read, being designed for print not tablets.