Monday, March 12, 2012

The Omaha World-Herald releases a new iPad app, and I guarantee you, Warren Buffett is not going to like it

A couple of weeks ago Warren Buffett, when asked about his investment in the Omaha World-Herald told CNBC's Squawk Box that one problem newspapers have, that they can overcome, is that they have been giving away their products for free.
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"Newspapers have been giving away their product at the same time they’re selling it, and that is not a great business model. So when they put papers up on the internet and you get it free, you’re competing with yourself," Buffett was quoted as saying in the Forbes follow-up story.

That story, written by the talented Jeff Bercovici, then asked whether Buffett was really referring to the Washington Post because Bercovici concludes that "very time the Post has taken a public stance on the question of free vs. paid, it has always reiterated its commitment to the former, even as its profits continue to plummet."

Well, maybe he got wind of this new iPad app from the World-Herald and was really referring to that fact that his is another giveaway.

The new app, Omaha.com, is (as the name implies) really about the paper's website. For some reason many newspapers seem to believe that they need an iPad app that duplicates the content of their website. But the Omaha.com website looks just fine on the iPad's Safari browser, so why the app?
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Certainly the website works far better than this app, anyways – as you can see from the above screenshot from the app. There is some cleaning up to do, either with the app, or the RSS feeds, before this will be a usable tablet edition.

But Buffett won't like that the app is free, and accessing the content doesn't require a subscription either.

What motivated the launch of this app may be that the newspaper also has a replica edition app courtesy of Technavia. That app, Omaha World-Herald ePaper, is also free, and based on the App Store reviews a bit buggy. Writes on Jags12us: "This think is buggier than a 3 day old raccoon."

That app, too, contains an Omaha.com interface, as well as access to a replica of that days paper. But the key thing is that neither app seems to want to charge for its content (and neither app are placed inside Apple's Newsstand).

Maybe the paper is saving that option for when the paper launches a more workable, native designed iPad app.

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