Wednesday, December 19, 2012

12 Apps of Christmas: February was all about politics

The Twelve Days of Christmas runs from Christmas Day to the evening of January 5th, or Twelfth Night. But TNM's 12 Apps of Christmas, which began yesterday, looks at significant media apps released this year – one per month. We look at February today, continuing the series through New Year's Eve.

Posts written in February were all about politics, all the time. No wonder web traffic was not what it should have been! But that is the freedom one has when you are publishing your own website – you write what interests you and no one, other than Google Analytics, is there to suggest that it is time to stop.

The news was dominated by the Greek euro crisis and the presidential primaries. With new elections coming up in April, Greek political parties were jockeying for position. But the election proved indecisive and new elections eventually took place in June.

In the U.S., the primaries were heating up, with Super Tuesday in 2012 falling into early March. But politics was all that seemed to concern the country. While there were a few interesting new tablet editions launched in February, such as Smithsonian Magazine, it was the app was released late in the month by the Washington Post that proved the most important.

First written about here, the WaPo's tablet edition seemed at first like a weak response to the mobile app NYTimes Election 2012 released in December. That passed its first test in January with its use during the Iowa Caucuses.
WP Politics, then, seemed like an afterthought. But since its original release, the team at the Post has done an excellent job updating the app, adding new features on a regular basis.

A well-timed update in October got the app ready for election day, but it was the update in December that signaled that the app may have legs and survive the end of the election cycle.

The weakness of the app is the fact that the WaPo has no current paid content strategy. With the NYT, the app fell into its digital bag of products. To gain full access to the app's features on needed to be a digital subscriber.

The WaPo, on the other hand, did not, and still does not have a metered paywall for its website. The launch of WP Politics was a golden opportunity to test out a paid digital content strategy.

It would have been interesting, in retrospect, if the WaPo kept its website open – like The Guardian – but tested out a paid approach with WP Politics. But now that the election season is over one would assume that the app will stay open to readers at least until the paper rolls out its expected metered paywall some time in 2013.