Tuesday, December 25, 2012

12 Apps of Christmas: Next Issue Media's digital newsstand comes to the iPad & finally takes off, while Mag+'s native iPhone magazine solution gets showcased

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 last week, will look at significant media apps (or trends) released in 2012.

Today, Christmas Day, we look at July, with the series continuing through New Year's Eve. This will be the only post here today at TNM, have a Merry Christmas.

July saw several new, important media apps released, but the summer was also a time of continuing difficulties in Europe as the Euro crisis continued on. During the month, the reporters for The Athens News, one of two English language news organizations in Greece, went out on strike due to unpaid back wages. Sadly the situation has not improved and the paper's website has remained without an update since mid-November.

Also in July, the founder of paidContent, Rafat Ali, launched a new travel website called Skift.com. Skift used the WordPress CMS to launch its 'travel intelligence' website, another take on online B2B publishing, and the first major move in this area since the demise of VerticalNet.

Late in the month Apple launched Mountain Lion and updated its own Mac apps. The launch of the new Mac OS went fairly smoothly, especially in comparison to the release later in the year of iOS 6.
The most significant app releases in the month came from two very different sources, using two very different approaches.

The iPhone edition of the British Journal of Photography was an all-new app that used the Mag+ platform. Rather than simply making a universal replica app, the British magazine had launched a well-received tablet edition using the Mag+ platform. In July the magazine launched a new iPhone edition using the same, but now updated platform.

The results were wonderful: a fully native take on the mobile format.

Another app release in July may, in the end, be even more significant. Next Issue Media had been established back before the original iPad was launched. A digital alliance between major publishers Condé Nast, Hearst, Meredith, News Corporation and Time Inc., the new venture was, as expected, very slow to take off.

At first the new company launched a digital newsstand for the Samsung Galaxy Tab, then later an Android app was launched. This was an effort by media giants that was going nowhere, at at a slow pace.

Finally, in July, Next Issue Media launched its iPad app and finally the new venture gained some traction.

The business model is a break from the old subscription model: for one monthly fee a reader can access a whole catalog of magazine titles. Obviously the reason for Next Issue Media is to retain control with the publishers and avoid Apple's fees and control.

It is rather ironic, though, that while Next Issue Media is looking out for the interests of big publishers, Apple has made changes to its App Store that favor the big publishers, as well. For now, at least, no one seems to be looking out for small, independent publishers. What is now needed is an easy to navigate and search digital newsstand that creates an even playing field for digital start-ups.