Thursday, March 1, 2012

A lesson in outsourcing: Boating World Magazine comes to the iPad, though it probably wishes it hadn't

Two stories that go back to the earliest days of Talking New Media joined together in a strange, and pretty entertaining way this morning.

Although TNM likes to state that its launch date was January 4, 2010, in reality the site was live and working about a month earlier than that – kind of a test period to see if I really wanted to do this.

One of the first stories I posted was about Nielsen's decision to shutter Editor & Publisher. The December 10 story followed the sad news that the venerable trade title would be no more thanks to the systematic closing or selling off of titles at the B2B publisher.

One month later TNM reported on the rise again of E&P after the title's assets were purchased by California boating publisher Duncan McIntosh Co. Inc. It was an unlikely marriage that resulted in most of the old publishing team being let go. In the end, it's worked out far better for some of the former staffers than it has for Duncan McIntosh: the editor, Greg Mitchell, is now over at The Nation, while Joe Strupp is at MediaMatters, for instance.

Another story that appeared in the early days of TNM concerned the digital appearance of the Pottery Barn catalog on the iPad. On April 19, 2010, this site wrote about the new Pottery Barn app released by replica maker PixelMags. This was, to me, big news, as there were very few media or advertising apps at that time – the original iPad having been released only the week prior.

Let's just say that it was an inauspicious debut on the iPad for the Williams-Sonoma owned retailer. The app was a glitchy mess and I see that it is no longer in the App Store. The vendor was not exactly happy about my story but, in the end, never spoke directly to me – probably because I was right.

Today the two stories merged with predictable results: PixelMags has launched an app for one of Duncan McIntosh's properties – no, its not E&P, but instead Boating World Magazine.

The horrors of tablet publishing: sometimes you find the name of your company has changed overnight.

The app features an icon that looks like a bad scan of the magazine cover, and is the typical replica edition app.

But unlike some vendors, PixelMags appears to create developer accounts for their customers so that the apps appear under their name rather than the developers. This is, in theory, a good thing. Every time I see a new magazine app, like this Blue Toad app for Ala Moana which appears under the Blue Toad name rather than the name of the publisher (Modern Luxury) it drives me crazy. That it doesn't drive the publishers crazy tells you something about the state of the publishing industry today.

But there is Boating World Magazine, under the name of the publisher, Ducan McIntosh Company Inc.

Really, you just can't make this stuff up.

I guess these two companies are a match made in heaven. I can't wait for the Editor & Publisher iPad app, it should be something to see.

One can't be sure who is at fault here, but whoever created the Apple developer account surely would want to pony up an extra $99 and create a new one under the right name. But the new app, Boating World Magazine, will forever be linked to Ducan McIntosh, so they better get started thinking of new app names.