Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Charleston, South Carolina's The Post and Courier launches a new free iPad app outside of the Newsstand

Evening Post Publishing Co. owned The Post and Courier launched a new iPad app edition two days ago. The app, Post & Courier, is a stand alone app for the iPad, the first under the publisher's name. The newspaper, which has a circulation of around 86,000 daily and 95,000 on Sunday, also has a mobile app in the App Store than appears under the developer's name, Verve Wireless.
The new tablet app mirrors the newspaper's website content and so is free of charge both to download and to access the content.

The app is logically laid out and the navigation is nice. There are a few bugs in the app that may will have to be worked out, but nothing major. The fonts are supposed to be adjustable, which will help reading, but I found that tapping the fonts did nothing at all. There are also obviously supposed to be full display ads that are to be mixed into the news pages a reader would encounter when swiping from story to story. For now, at least at the time I tested the app, blank pages appear that will no doubt confuse the reader. One can swipe the screen to move on, but ads need to be served in these spots and probably will as soon as they are either sold or are properly served.

Two years ago an app like this would have been pretty neat (sorry, the only word I could think of). But today one wonders what the business model is for an app such as this.

The Post and Courier website renders just fine using the iPad's Safari browser, though I noticed that the leaderboard ad did not detect that I was on a non-Flash enabled device – as a result, the gun ad (yep, a gun ad) did not display. This can be overcome through coding, so I was very surprised to see that empty space at the top of the web page. While I consider apps that mirror the website pretty redundant, I suppose it could be argued that the app creates new advertising real estate for the ad team to sell.

Since the app does not reside inside the Apple Newsstand, and is not an attempt at a digital version of the print newspaper, the app can not begin to drive digital paid subscriptions – but the launch of this app does not prevent the newspaper from deciding to launch a digital edition which would require a paid subscription for. For now, though, both this new app, as well as the paper's website, are without paywalls.