Thursday, October 18, 2012

Morning Brief: Hearst updates Esquire iPad edition, breaks app; Slingbox, the little device that could, but couldn't'; more thoughts on latest comScore research

Please stand by. I remember when that term was used all the time by television networks experiencing 'technical difficulties'. It's rare today. But that it basically what Hearst Communications is saying the app description for the updated app for Esquire – please stand by.

Actually, this is what their app description says this morning:
NOTICE: Please return to upgrade at a later time as we are currently experiencing some technical difficulties, and we want to make sure you have the best reading experience possible. We'll remove this notice as soon as we've resolved the issues. Thank you!
I don't know exactly what the bug is, but I know what it is doing: the new app update is crashing for users. Update the app and you break it.
Things like this are actually pretty rare in the App Store, Usually an app update that introduces a bug is quickly replaced with another.

But magazine and newspaper apps are used daily by thousands of users and the introduction of a bug in the app can quickly dampen a readers enthusiasm for the publication.

Esquire is a popular magazine so I suspect readers will hang in there. More troubling, however, is the Hearst digital team's continuing habit of writing nonsense, uninformative app descriptions. The "What's New" section never states what is actually new in a Hearst magazine app, but instead always leads with "Thanks to all of the xxx readers who have shared feedback..." – which I find highly annoying. (It is to be remembered that the Hearst apps are among the lowest rated in the App Store because of the company's policy of forcing print subscribers to buy another subscription to access the digital issues.)

Wired's website this morning has a review up on the new Slingbox. The review states that the new device is nice, but "it's still living in the past."

I used to wonder why the Slingbox wasn't a big hit. Other than its price, which is admittedly too high to attract a lot of consumers, the idea of being able to watch television anywhere seemed to have merit.

But as Rick Broida's review points out, most consumers aren't really interested in "slinging" live television so much as watching programs when they want, as well as where they want.

Without the element of time shifting built in the box loses a bit of value.

But the Slingbox will go down with the Commodore computer as an important early, if ultimately unsuccessful, streaming video product. Most cable and satellite providers are moving towards some sort of remote streaming solution, as are the networks themselves. The reason is that consumers don't want to be tied to the family room when watching content.

TNM must be the only website that did not look at the latest comScore tablet research and use the Kindle Fire as the lead.

Tech site after tech site is saying that the big news coming out of the research is that Kindle Fire owners are more likely to read newspapers and magazines on their tablets than are iPad owners.

While the research does claim this, the fact is that the numbers are pretty much the same across the board, and as anyone who does surveying knows, margin of error is important.

But, to me, it would have been far bigger news if owners of the Kindle Fire were not reading periodicals at a higher rate. When you think Kindle what do you think? Gaming? Of course not, it's reading.

Since a large number of Kindle Fire owners are owners of previous Kindle models, one would assume that they would continue to use their new tablets for reading first, other activities second.

Had comScore's research included book reading, one would expect that again Kindle Fire owners would be using their tablets more than iPad owners to read books. Then it would be pretty clear to those tech writers who only look at the lede on the press release what was going on here.