Friday, March 16, 2012

B2B publisher GIE Media releases universal iOS app for its horticulture division

The first third party mobile apps began appearing in 2008 when Apple introduced its second general iPhone and updated its mobile operating system. Publishers have been playing catch up ever since, with some segments quickly making the transition (consumer magazines), others struggling (newspapers) and still others practically ignoring the entire platform (B2B magazines).

One B2B that has begun to launch apps is GIE Media. The company released two iPad apps earlier this year and have now launched an app for its horticultural division. (Disclosure: a few years ago I was the group publisher of a competing group of magazines.)

GIE Media Horticulture is free new app that gathers up the RSS feeds coming from the publisher's magazine in the group: Lawn & Landscape, Greenhouse Management, Nursery Management and Golf Course Industry.
(I understand that GIE will be relaunching is landscape dealer magazine soon.)

The app works well on mobile platforms where reading news on the Safari browser can be less than ideal. On the iPad the app's main advantage is gathering up all the news feeds from the different industry websites. Both the mobile and tablet sides of the app appear to be single-sponsored by Dow AgroSciences, and the all GIE Media apps appear under their own name rather than that of a vendor (yeah).

The app is definitely web-oriented as the print magazines are not presented in either a replica or native design form. This is probably just as well as the app does not have a qualification mechanism in it – something important to control circulation B2B magazines.

We're still not seeing very many B2B publishers in the App Store, in any form – Cygnus Business Media being somewhat of an exception. The reason may simply be that so many of the B2Bs are owned now by private equity firms. The big players, who would have led the charge on mobile and tablets, such as Primedia, Reed Business Information or McGraw-Hill either don't exist anymore, have slimmed down to practically nothing, or have simply stopped investing in their B2B divisions.

What the U.S. B2B industry may need is a purely digital start-up that will apply the same pressure to build apps as VerticalNet did to pressure B2Bs to first launch websites.