Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Regional airline Flybe goes replica for its iPad edition; comparison to new Air France tablet edition is dramatic

Yesterday TNM looked at the new tablet edition from Air France (see below this post). That app was created by their outside publishing team and went out of its way to show off what a tablet magazine is capable of.
In contrast, today Flybe, the UK low-cost regional airline, has its seen its own in flight magazine released into Apple's Newsstand by its vendor Tri Active Media. The contrast in approaches could not be more stark.

Like other apps released by Tri Active Media, the new app for Flybe is sold not under the carrier's name but under Tri Active Media's name. Upon opening the app the reader is immediately told they should register with the company so that they can access the magazine across platforms.

The reader, though, can bypass this and move on to downloading the latest issue.

Unlike many of the apps from Tri Active Media, this one, Flybe Business Uncovered Magazine (quite a mouthful), is free of charge, as are the issues inside.

Many of the apps from Tri Active Media require you to pay for the app, then pay for the issues found inside. Needless to say that readers have expressed their displeasure at this business model.

Many reviews of Tri Active Media apps also complain of bugs and crashes. I found the Flybe app to be fine in that regard. The navigation is fairly smooth, and the download times were not bad, though it should be noted that any replica edition that contains little or no interactive material should be a quick download.

A comparison between the new Air France tablet edition and the Flybe replica edition might be considered unfair. One app is attempting to create something new, while the other app is just trying to give their passengers with an iPad something to read.

But I would say that these two products are so different that they are completely different genres, despite both being in flight magazines. Like the free alternative weekly that can be found at the coffee shop, the reader's expectations of the freebie are pretty darned low – just give me something to read. For Flybe, this approach may be fine. But for the publisher actually trying to sell subscriptions, I think readers expect more – and if you charge them, will demand more.