Monday, July 30, 2012

St. Louis Post-Dispatch releases its second outsourced iPad edition, this one from NewspaperDirect

It is sometimes hard to keep track of what Lee Enterprises is doing when it comes to the mobile and tablet platforms. Some of its apps have been released under the Lee Enterprises name, though most must be searched for under the name of the newspaper.

A search for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch will find that there are two main news tablet editions inside the App Store for the newspaper. The first one was outsourced to Verve Wireless, St. Louis Post-Dispatch for iPad.
This weekend a new app has now appeared, PD e-Edition. This one was developed by NewspaperDirect. Neither app is built to take advantage of Apple's Newsstand, and one assumes the earlier app will be eventually pulled from the App Store (recent reviews say the app has stopped working).

The new app is built along the same lines as many other NewspaperDirect apps where the newspaper inside looks like a replica of the print edition, but tapping the headline pulls up a text copy of the news story for easier reading. (The Boston Globe ePaper tablet edition uses the same system.)

The replica/native hybrid is not a bad compromise, though one has to wonder about the business model being employed here. For one thing, there are no subscription options available through the app (individual issues can be bought for $0.99), and by avoiding the Newsstand, the reader is forced to download new issues themselves.

Print subscribers can log into their accounts through the settings found in the app, though this is not mentioned at all in the app description. In fact, there is no mention of single issue pricing at all, which is strange since I would have thought Apple would require this.

(I would be remiss not to mention that around the time the new app appeared the paper announced that it way laying off 23 staffers from the newsroom, advertising and production departments. This came two days after the company had announced a $500,000 bonus for its CEO, Mary Junck. One guesses the two actions are no doubt related.)

The Post-Dispatch is not the only Lee Enterprises newspaper that has multiple iPad apps in the App Store. The Arizona Daily Star, out of Tucson, has two apps, as well: one is a replica edition from Technavia, the other is a tablet edition that mirrors the paper's website.

It doesn't appear that Lee Enterprises has put a corporate priority on its mobile and tablet platform strategy, leaving it up to individual publishers to work out their own solutions.