Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Media app updates: The Independent moves into Apple's Newsstand; Condé Nast and Bonnier begin issuing app updates to their stable of magazines

Publishers are getting used to the idea that their media apps are never a finished product, that they require frequent updates – not only to fix bugs, but to add new features as Apple and Google change their mobile and tablet operating systems.
The UK daily newspaper, The Independent, updated its iPad app and moved it into Apple's Newsstand. The Independent, the app, that is, remains free to download and the content remains free for new readers for a limited time.

If you are a US readers you'll find that the app is not offering subscriptions. The app description clearly states that the subscription price is £9.99 per month, but the user is not prompted to buy a subscription, and the app description does not contain any information on in-app purchases (found on the lower left side of the app description).

But the UK app description is different – there you see that the newspaper will be charging £9.99 per month for a digital subscription within the app.

I don't know if this means that The Independent will be using a dual strategy – paid in the UK, free in the U.S. – or whether the app will again update and US readers will begin being charged for accessing the content.

The app copies the look and feel of the NYT's iPad app, but the content is pretty limited (something that is not a problem when the product is free, but one that might generate complaints once a subscription is required).

Condé Nast issued app updates for both The New Yorker and Vanity Fair. The updates, at least as I can see, are fairly minor.

Bonnier has started to issue updates to its magazine apps, as well. Saveur, Field & Stream, American Photo+, Garden Design Mag, and possibly others have been updated in the past few days.

It's easy to see which magazine apps to download from Bonnier. The magazines that add a "+" to the back of their names – American Photo+ or Popular Science+ or Popular Photography+ – are the ones that are using the Mag+ digital publishing solution to produce the tablet editions. The other magazines are simple replica editions.

Most readers have more to complain about than just disappointing PDF versions of the print editions. The publisher continues to not offer their print subscribers free access to the digital editions, forcing them to pay twice to subscribe. The move appears to generating quite a bit of resentment among their customers, but the policy remains in place.