Friday, May 4, 2012

Cambridgeshire publisher of photography magazines, Bright Publishing Ltd., goes the replica route – and makes their print subscribers pay once again for the digital edition

Most iPad owners have long ago noticed that their tablets are tailor made for viewing photographs. Now, with the introduction of the new iPad, with its higher resolution display, photography pops off "the page" even more dramatically.

One of the first apps produced for the iPad from a major publisher was The Guardian Eyewitness, a photojournalism app that predates the British newspaper's own tablet edition of the newspaper by over a year. Recently The Guardian updated the app to make to compliant with the new iPad's 'retina' display.
Because of the way the iPad is photo friendly, you would think that the publishers of photographic magazines would be eager to take advantage of the iPad by building native tablet editions. Bonnier's Tech Group, for instance, used the Mag+ platform to create its two photography tablet editions, American Photo+ and Popular Photography+.

Another British publisher has gone in the other direction. Bright Publishing Ltd. has recently launched three new iPad editions for its titles Digital SLR Magazine, Photo Professional Magazine and Advanced Photographer Magazine.

These replica editions are very typical of all replica editions in that they are pretty much exact copies of the print edition, though like all digital replicas, there is an opportunity to add video and audio, hot links, etc. But despite the absence of additional production work needed to create a native tablet edition, these replicas generally cost more to the reader, often because the publisher enters into a revenue share situation with the vendor – in this case, PixelMags.

In this case, the magazines cost $5.99 a piece, with subscriptions available for 6 months at $30.99, or an annual subscription at $59.99. (Digital SLR is priced at a lower level.)

Both the Bonnier and Bright Publishing apps stick it to print subscribers, which is by far the biggest complaint readers seem to have with Bonnier's native apps. I think this leaves the door wide open for a more digitally savvy publisher (or start-up) to enter the field with a native app that takes advantage of the new tablet platform.

DoApp redesigns the interface of its Mobile Local News platform; sameness of apps remains a branding issue

The Minneapolis local news app company DoApp has redesigned the user interface of its Mobile Local News platform. The company, which was originally profiled on TNM in February of 2010, has over 200 apps for the iPhone inside the App Store, and over 50 for the iPad (many of the apps are universal).
The apps for such media properties as the Journal-Advocate from Sterling, Colorado, and the St. Paul Pioneer Press continue to share an identical look, different only in the property's logo on the opening page.

These media apps are free and do not reside inside Apple's Newsstand. They are, in essence, substitutes for the media property's website. Even apps such as Justin Bieber - My World - Belieber photos pics news (what a name) look identical to the Pioneer Press app. In fact, the sameness goes all the way down to the screenshots used for the app descriptions.

The new interface, especially once one moves off the opening page, with its box design (see above) is pretty attractive, and in many ways superior to many websites as seen on the iPad. But once off the home page, the branding disappears – and, as you can see below, distinguishing one media property from another becomes virtually impossible.

“Our main focus for the redesign was making the interface even more intuitive for the reader,” Jim Kozlowski, Mobile Local News app designer, is quoted in the company's press release for the redesign. “We have taken the great features in the previous design and made them even better: more photos, ability to enlarge text and photos, swiping between articles, as well as many app performance upgrades so stories load quicker.”

DoApp has sold their app solution to broadcast outlets, as well as newspapers. The big lure, I would think, is that DoApp has its own ad network, Adagogo, a self-serve ad solution which allows advertiser to pick the applications they would like to use, and the locations they would like to target.

In the end, it is up to the publisher or station manager whether this one-size-fits-all is appropriate. For me, the draw of mobile and tablet publishing is that it by creating new digital products one can go after new subscribers and are creating new real estate for local sales teams. App solutions don't do either of these things don't interest me. But not all publishers feel that way, clearly.

Note: Somehow a paragraph of this post got dropped. In it, I remind readers that DoApp originally produced mobile apps (as noted in that 2010 post). Not surprisingly, these universal apps work quite well on the iPhone and Android platforms – though they are also designed in a cookie-cutter fashion.

U.S. media's disinterest in all things foreign provide opening for International news outlets

It is almost a cliché about the American news media: it just isn't interested in International news unless it involves celebrities or drug cartels. This week, in particular, is proving the cliché to be based in fact as the major U.S. almost completely ignore the incredibly important, and in many ways dramatic, election races being held in many European countries.

Last night U.K. citizens voted in local elections that have turned upside down the balance of power. The Labour Party, which took a beating just a few years ago, reversed itself and reclaimed many local government councils. "Labour have now won so many seats," The Guardian's live blog reported this morning, "that the number (1,404, since you ask) is having trouble fitting into its box in our graphic."

UK election results can in
so late last night that few papers
could lead with the results.

Partially this can be blamed on the U.S.'s own Presidential campaigns – but those are proving to be without much drama as the nominees are already known.

But this Sunday (or maybe it should read "Monday") will prove to be especially a challenge as both France and Greece go to the polls. In France François Hollande, the Socialist, is widely expected to defeat the sitting president, Nicolas Sarkozy in the runoff election. Even the expected result is news worthy, the unexpected result would be a head scratcher. One seriously doubts the U.S. media would be able to make much sense of that.

But the Greek election is where the media will be most tested. There, no party is expected to get more than, say, 25 percent of the vote. But Greece's strange election laws, which award 50 seats to the party that gets the most votes no matter how poor their performance, will only add more complexity to an already complicated story. Will the news center on the performance of the major parties, the rise of the far right, or the combine opposition to austerity measures? Even the Greek media, if judged by news websites, are having difficulty sorting it all out.

Gannett's USA Today website is totally oblivious to news abroad. It combines national and world news into one category (I find it hard to even type that without breaking out in laughter).

The New York Times, meanwhile, can take its eyes off of the picture of future Hall of Fame closer Mariano Rivera writhing in pain – I suppose that can be excused. It is leading with the jobs numbers, which weren't good. Far down the home page is a headline about last night's UK election results.

And so an opening is created for those news organizations that can see beyond their noses. The Guardian's U.S. news site, for instance, has a piece on Sunday's French election – not leading, as it probably shouldn't, but right there in plain view. Not surprisingly, Al Jazeera English, which is always about world news, has plenty on events outside the U.S.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Judge at Google-Oracle trial reveals that Google's Android platform lost money every quarter in 2010

The judge in the litigation between Oracle and Google today revealed in court that Google's Android mobile platform had been a money loser for the company in every quarter of 2010, according to a report from Reuters.

The jury in the case being argued in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, is currently deliberating. But in a hearing outside of the presence of the jury, U.S. District Judge William Alsup revealed that Google had lost money in all four quarters of 2010, but did not disclose a figure for the losses, but Reuters quotes Alsup as saying that it "adds up to a big loss for the whole year."

Because Google does not break out its Android platform financial performance in its earnings statements, it is a glimpse at how the mobile operating system platform is performing for the company.

Research firm IDC says Android tablets had a disappointing quarter of sales; Apple remains dominant; Amazon sales tablet surpassed by Samsung

The market intelligence firm International Data Corporation (IDC) has released its Q1 report for 2012 and it shows that Android tablet sales fell more than the firm expected. IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Media Tablet and eReader Tracker reported 17.4 million units sold for the quarter, nearly 68 percent of all tablets sold, though, were Apple iPads.

Apple reported that it sold 11.8 million iPads in the first quarter of 2012, the company's Q2. It also reported record earnings, as well.

"Apple reasserted its dominance in the market this quarter, driving huge shipment totals at a time when all but a few Android vendors saw their numbers drop precipitously after posting big gains during the holiday buying season," Tom Mainelli, research director, Mobile Connected Devices at IDC said in the company's announcement. "Apple's move to position the iPad as an all-purpose tablet, instead of just a content consumption device, is resonating with consumers as well as educational and commercial buyers. And its decision to keep a lower-priced iPad 2 in the market after it launched the new iPad in March seems to be paying off as well."

According to IDC, Amazon's tablet sales fell in the quarter, allowing Samsung to rise to the number two position among tablet sellers.

"We expect a new, larger-screened device from Amazon at a typically aggressive price point, and Google will enter the market with an inexpensive, co-branded ASUS tablet designed to compete directly on price with Amazon's Kindle Fire. The search giant's new tablet will run a pure version of Android, whereas the Fire runs Amazon's own forked version of the OS that cuts Google out of the picture," Mainelli said.

Retweet: BikeBiz talks to Cycling News HD publisher Richard Schofield about their new tablet edition

Future Publishing has released a very nice new tablet edition for its title CyclingNews. The app edition for the weekly publication is a bright new take on the tablet platform that its iPad owning readers will no doubt brag about.

New iPad hi-res image here.
The new app comes with the rather long name of Cycling News HD - the weekly road racing magazine, which, I suppose, leaves plenty of options should the publisher decide to launch a new version of the app down the road.

Jonathon Harker of BikeBiz, a British B2B magazine that has its own replica edition iPad app through YUDU Media, conducted an interview with Richard Schofield, Group Publishing Director - Sport and Automotive at Future, for the launch of the new app. That interview, which you can read in full here, talks about the new app and its pricing. I've reproduced an excerpt from the interview below, though I would definitely encourage reading it in full (it's not that long, go ahead).

The Future app re-imagines the publication in tablet form, and so the new natively designed tablet edition is to be read in landscape – which, when you think about it, makes perfect sense for a cycling publication (I suppose a title about unicycles could be read in portrait!).

The app features a sample issue for readers to use to judge the app. Single issues can be purchased for $1.99 (£1.49), while a weekly subscription will cost $0.99 (£0.69) or an annual subscription will cost $42.99 (£29.99).

Below is a short run through the sample issue:

Here is an excerpt from the BikeBiz interview:
Is the iPad format something that has been used in other sectors in Future's portfolio?

Yes and no – we've done lots of page turner replica versions of our magazines that you can download on the Apple Newsstand, but this is the first time in sports that we've done a bespoke magazine for Newsstand.

We've done a couple of others in other sectors, including Guitarist Deluxe which is most of Guitarist magazine but with lots of bespoke content on it – so it's got lots of video content and enhanced graphics and navigation – and we've also done a mag called Tap! which is a magazine about Apps and a bespoke tablet version. But this is the first time we've created something completely from scratch, without a print brand to rely on. And the weekly format is a first for Future as well...

A weekly title is quite an intensive product to produce – will Future be providing extra man power for it?

We've recruited Paul Robson as the editor for the title. He is a huge cycling enthusiast but has always worked at Future on a guitar magazine – Guitar Deluxe in fact, so he has that blend of cycling knowledge and experience of iPad products as well. Some of the columnists and opinion pieces will be written by the and Pro Cycling team member and freelancers you'll recognise, but we've also hired a team to produce Cycling News HD...

So there will be bespoke material in the title, it won't just be pooled content?

Definitely not, we've been asked this question lots by the trade – how much of it is new and how much of it is bespoke? It's hard to put a percentage on it but I think it's fair to say that the majority of it is brand new. A lot of the factual stuff will be pulled from Cyclingnews, so race results and reports will come from there, but the opinion, comment and analysis is all new to this product. And a lot of the features and news stories will be produced specifically for this.

Do you see future publishing opportunities mainly being online now? Does online give you something extra that you can't really get from print?

The exciting thing about Apple Newsstand is that it is borderless publishing. You can produce something like this and you don't need to worry about getting a distributor in the US or Australia or wherever. It's available there almost without much effort. And our research shows it's not cannibalising from the people who buy magazines. It's a new market.

There will be more iPad or tablet products from Future. There's nothing we can tell you about at the moment, but we definitely see it as a big opportunity to launch new products quickly and as an opportunity to reach new markets quite quickly.
Thank you again to Jonathon Harker and BikeBiz for allowing TNM to reproduce a portion of the interview above.

Digital newsstand company Magzter releases branded Columbia Journalism Review app into Apple's Newsstand

The India-based digital newsstand company Magzter released a branded app for Columbia Journalism Review today into Apple's Newsstand. The app, like the Kindle and NOOK apps, serves only as a reader app, users must sign into the app to gain access to the magazines that have been purchased through the Magzter store.

Magzter uses a revenue share model to entice publishers to use the service. The replica editions can then be read on mobile devices such as the iPhone and iPad, as well as online.

While the publisher does not have to pay for the service, the launch of the branded app means that the CJR is now sold through the Magzter name, and any new app the CJR would wish to create on its own would have to be named something other than "Columbia Journalism Review," making one wonder about the wisdom to such an app solution – after all, the CJR issues are just as easily available through the Magzter app itself. (No doubt CJR would ask Magzter to withdraw the branded app if the publication decided to launch its own natively designed tablet edition.)

CJR is priced at $19.95 for an annual subscription, which Magzter fails to mention is actually six issues. CJR is also available through the Zinio digital newsstand, where readers can buy the magazine directly through the app. CJR also has a Kindle Edition available, as well. So one can see that the publication is trying to become available through as many channels as possible.

Text heavy magazines such as CJR are especially hard to read using a replica edition solution, of course, as the user must pinch-to-zoom in order to get the text back to its original size for reading.

Virgin Media is the first ISP to comply with U.J. judge order to block The Pirate Bay, users circumvent blockage

Users in the U.K. of the file sharing website The Pirate Bay quickly found ways around the blocking of the site by Virgin Media after that Internet service provider was the first to comply with a U.K. judge's order to block the Swedish company.

The graphic currently being displayed
on The Pirate Bay website
The order by Justice Arnold last week required that major ISPs such as Virgin Media, Sky, O2 cut off access to the popular website. The Pirate Bay, which does not house files, is used to search for BitTorrent links where users can share files together. While the website gets no revenue directly from its users, the site is reportedly earning up to $3 million a year in advertising.

In a statement released last week by the head of the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), Geoff Taylor praised last week's ruling. "The High Court has confirmed that The Pirate Bay infringes copyright on a massive scale. Its operators line their pockets by commercially exploiting music and other creative works without paying a penny to the people who created them. This is wrong - musicians, sound engineers and video editors deserve to be paid for their work just like everyone else,” Taylor said.

Jim Killock, executive director of the Open Rights Group, criticized the ruling saying that "blocking the Pirate Bay is pointless and dangerous. It will fuel calls for further, wider and even more drastic calls for internet censorship of many kinds, from pornography to extremis."

But users, commenting on British websites, said they are having little difficulty in circumventing the website's blockage by ISPs, some stating that a simply web search has come up with solutions.

Commercial ISPs and other been quick to comply with requests, both formal and through back channels, to block services. Last year both Amazon and PayPal agreed to stop providing server and payment processing for WikiLeaks after that web entity released documents.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Update: The Kobo Newsstand remains not ready for prime time on the iPad; despite glitches, former Borders partner continues to push subscriptions

Almnost three weeks ago I responded to the emailing of a press release from Kobo, the eBook seller formerly associated with Borders. On that day I wrote a post about the McClatchy Kobo editions and how bad they looked. I speculated that something had gone array, surely they couldn't have been designed to look like what I was seeing on my iPad.

Three weeks later the situation has not changed much. The Kobo eBook store's newsstand still looks like a half completed project, and the Kobo editions still do not work on my iPad.

I retested the Miami Herald Kobo edition and it does look different, if not much better. The individual stories are improved in look, but they are essentially like a Kindle Edition in that stories are forced to share the same look and layout.
But the "front page" remains the issue: the text is often cut out and the all that a reader can see are rows of headlines.

Wondering if this was unique to the McClatchy papers I tested out the Boston Globe and International Herald Tribune Kobo editions. Amazingly, the situation was far worse. That blank page you see above at left is the front page of the Globe's Kobo edition. Or was that the IHT's front page, it is hard to tell, obviously.

Programmers know the horrors of apps gone bad, but few end up launching those apps before they are debugged. Kobo apparently is not one of those companies.

Vixely and Rebel: Two new tablet editions look at the issue of digital publishing in similar ways as they produce consumer magazines from their own perspectives

During the past two weeks two new tablet magazines apps have launched that have some similarities in approach to digital publishing for tablets, even as they approach their audiences from very different perspectives.

Rebel Magazine for iPad is the iPad edition of a print magazine that, nonetheless, approaches the tablet as its own platform. Vixely is a tablet-only magazine that is not burdened by the print legacy and so can create native tablet design without the albatross of previous layouts.

Both magazines, however, are created by people without backgrounds in publishing (according to the publisher biographies) and are produced to further their publisher's perspective and to speak to their very different audiences.
I suppose I should state right up front that neither magazine speaks to me at all – though this is probably OK as I am way outside the target audiences.

Vixely is, let's be honest, about wealthy, white, single, women who, if the magazine is any guide, have little concern about employment issues, the economy, or politics. Superficiality is the name of the game in a world where "vixen" is an acceptable term for a woman, and men are known as "dudes" and women are expected to "swoon."

Rebel, on the other hand, is deadly serious and tries to take a different approach to the traditional men's magazine. In an interview with Samir Husni, Rebel Media's CEO Rick Cabral stated the purpose of Rebel this way: "Rebel is a very unique publication – certainly a dramatic departure from traditional men’s magazines – which have been more focused on external issues such as fitness, grooming or say, fashion. We are not opposed to that per say, but we thought men today are facing a variety of personal and professional challenges in our modern world, and we tried to create a publication that more accurately reflected that."

Reading Rebel, for me, is like going to a therapist who is positive I have issues but hasn't found them yet, but is determined to force me to sit and talk with him for hours in order to discover what they are. But if Rebel is trying to break out of the traditional model of what a men's magazine is supposed to be about, Vixely is trying to out do all those men's magazines, but for women.

Both Vixely and Rebel are interesting and worthwhile reads, though, for the publishing professional that wants to see how those that approach creating tablet editions visualize the platform – and both succeed.

Vixely, because it does not have the burden of converting a print title, can look at the tablet magazine from a fresh perspective. It chooses to offer its magazine in landscape only. The debut issue available weighs in at 377 MB, and both the app and the content are free.

But Vixely's design is somewhat limited. Each tablet page fits on the screen and is a separate entity. The reader scrolls or swipes to reach the next page or story, but the art direction is amateurish in comparison to Rebel. Fonts change from story to story, the video content is, well, TNM quality (and that's not good).
The emphasis here is on pictures of the staff and inserting the word "sex" into as many stories as possible, shopping being the second area of focus.

Rebel's goal here is completely different. While Vixely is in the Apple Newsstand and offers its issues free of charge, Rebel is there to sell single copies and subscriptions. The March/April issue is being sold for $2.99 and an annual subscription is priced at $15.99. It's not a well thought out pricing strategy as there is no incentive to subscribe based on the current price, though the publisher is free to experiment with the pricing now that the app has launched.

The rise of the disposable app: developers target meetings, conventions, trade shows for mobile apps; Gather Digital launches a series of new apps for meetings

The way most publishers think about app development is that it takes time to create a great app, and once created it has to be built to last. But sometimes what one needs is a mobile or tablet app to serve as a guide to a trade show or meeting, or for a special occasion such as a reunion. These are, in essence, disposable apps: apps that will be perfectly useful for a limited time and then may be deleted from the device (or updated at a later time).

Recently TNN posted a look at the show daily produced for the NAB Show created by New Bay Media. But the use of mobile apps created for trade shows goes back much farther. In 2010 TNM talked about the mobile apps built by Core-Apps for the FMI show, sponsored Penton Media's Supermarket News.
Yesterday several new app appeared in the News category in the App Store from the North Carolina company Gather Digital. These apps are for a number of clients and for a variety of purposes.

I found at least three new apps, but there may be more as they are hard to locate because they are appearing under the client's name rather than the developers. This is the way to do it, though it does complicate find the apps inside the App Store if you are more interested in the developer than if you are the apps themselves.

Columbia University, for instance, has issued an app for Commencement Week 2012 which starts on May 13.

Drager Medical has a new app, as well, for a sales training conference it will hold soon: IACSDots2012.

And finally, I found a new app for an upcoming event in San Francisco: the PharmaSUG 2012 Annual Conference Program APP will allow downloaders to view abstracts for nearly 200 papers and workshops associated with the annual conference.

B2B media companies with their own trade show divisions can either use their event divisions as an excuse to create their own app development teams, or else outsource this to companies such as Gather Digital or Core-Apps. More and more, the App Store is being filled with these temporary or disposable apps that are becoming a more common way for events to distribute information, and soon attendees will be expecting that they will be able to register and get information on these events through their mobile and tablet devices.

One obstacle to these apps, of course, is distribution: the App Store is a pretty crazy place, and I know Apple is working hard to address this. One program Apple has created is the Volume Purchasing Program for business. I have no experience with the program but it may prove a helpful way to get these apps to their intended users.

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.


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Motorola Mobility, recently bought by Google, posts $86 million quarterly loss; revenue up slightly to $3.1 billion

Motorola Mobility announced its Q1 2012 earnings this afternoon after the bell. The company, recently acquired by Google, posted a non-GAAP operating loss on the quarter of $86 million, a GAAP operating loss of $121 million.

The company shipped and sold $2.2 billion worth of mobile devices in the quarter, up 3 percent from a year ago.

Motorola did not announce sales for its tablets according to those who listened in to the conference call, though the company did say that it had shipped 8.9 million devices, and of those 5.1 million were smartphones.

"The introduction of RAZR MAXX marked another successful addition to the Motorola product family and contributed to our growth in smartphones," Motorola's chief executive said in the earnings statement. "Our Home business delivered another solid quarter highlighted by improvement in year-over-year profitability. We continue to work closely with Google to complete the proposed merger during the first half of the year."

RIM previews its BlackBerry 10 software; PixelMags is part of presentation, promises to launch an app

When Apple first premiered the iPad at its event at the end of January of 2010, Steve Jobs not only wanted to show off the new tablet's capabilities, but he very specifically chose those that would take the stage with him. Jobs demoed the Safari browser using the New York Times's website, but then started in on apps.

This is what I wrote a little over two years ago on the day of the iPad introduction:

When the time came to show off how apps work on the iPad, Martin Nisenholtz from the Times took the stage to show off the New York Times app for the iPad. The Times was one of the first to launch a media app for the iPhone, and clearly Apple wanted the Times to be ready for the introduction.
That app, of course, launched with the iPad and was a showcase of sorts for other developers.

I mention this because today's presentation previewing Research In Motion's (RIM) delayed BlackBerry 10 software also was an opportunity to showcase what would be unique in the new mobile operating system. As Slashgear reports, new RIM CEO Thorsten Heins chose digital publishing vendor PixelMags, the maker of replica editions, to share the stage with him.

It was an interesting choice, and one that really shows the lack of imagination and vision currently guiding RIM. If the company truly wants to get developers interested in the platform RIM will have to do two things: it will have to develop interesting solutions itself, and it will have to partner with innovative developers.

One has to remember that Apple is one of its own platform's best developers, launching innovative iOS apps for GarageBand, the iWork suite, etc. – not to mention an authoring tool for eBooks, iBooks Author.

RIM could really boost its own platform by launching its own set of innovative apps, as well as authoring tools for publishers that would not only allow the easy creation of apps and tablet editions, but would facilitate really good, exciting apps. You want to get publishers interested in developing for RIM's platform? Do something that neither Apple nor Google has done so far.

As for the developer community RIM needs to seek out innovators, not simply look for me-too apps. I dropped my old Samsung phone for the iPhone in 2007 because I could do new things with my smartphone. Samsung now offers those same features, but that is simply an even trade. If RIM (or Samsung) wants me to buy something else, I need to know that I get something available no place else (even if that is for only a short while).

But RIM has to pick wisely because it will be hard to convince the developer community as a whole without leadership. The NYT's Bits blog, for instance, quotes a series of skeptical developers. One of them, Phill Ryu, chief executive of Impending, expressed the obvious: “If this is a horse race, RIM is two laps behind and has a lame leg. Why would I bet my time and money on them?”

As for BlackBerry 10, RIM says it will launch in the fall. One might be tempted to post about all the product demonstrations of hardware and software set to launch some time far into the future. I would guess that RIM won't be one of those companies that never delivers – BlackBerry 10 will most likely launch.

But remember, between now and then will be the launch of a new iPhone and the newest version of iOS. The preview of BlackBerry 10 can be compared to both iOS and Android versions currently in circulation. By the time Blackberry 10 launches we won't be comparing it to iOS 5, but to iOS 6.

Digging deeper into the new ABC FAS-FAX numbers: digital replica editions versus non-replica editions

The ABC's definition of replica versus non-replica impacts how a newspaper will report its digital circulation. There is plenty of wiggle room in the definitions that two newspapers could, in theory report their circulation in different areas.

Here are the basic definitions as set down by the November 2011 revision:

Replica: A digital replica, according to the ABC rules must contain the same editorial and photojournalism content as the print edition – but, and this is important, it can be reformatted "to accommodate the delivery device being used, provided the editorial content is presented in a fashion that is similar and consistent with the print publication." Further, if the replica edition is enhanced using video, audio or other multimedia elements, this would not prevent the edition from being called a replica edition.

This is different from how replica editions are defined by developers, where the basic look and feel of the digital edition matches that of the print edition.

Non-Replica: Non-replicas are defined as having the same branding as the print edition, as well as the same content. But a non-replica, according to the ABC, can have different content (that is, additional content). A non-replica, in real life, would really be a digital product built off of the website content (so long as it is not the free access website itself, of course).

Because of these definitions, and the way they are interpreted, you will see wide variation in the way certain newspapers and newspaper companies report their digital editions. McClatchy and Gannett, for instance, tend to have a majority of their digital circulation appearing under digital replica, while both the New York Times Company and News Corp. are reporting their digital circulation under non-replica – most likely due to their new digital products and paywalled websites (which offer access across a number of digital products in exchange for a paid subscription).

In any case, as you will see below, when the numbers are added up from the Top 25 newspapers with digital editions non-replica digital circulation ends up being about twice as large as that of replica editions – but, and this is the point, the non-replica digital circulation from the top two newspapers, the NYT and the WSJ, account for the entire difference.


Some newspapers near tipping point as digital circulation now reaches 14.2% of total circulation, according to ABC

Newspapers are reaching a tipping point where they can now claim larger digital circulation than print, thanks to new digital media platforms and changes to the rules used by the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) for measuring circulation.

According to the new FAS-FAX report issued this morning by the ABC, digital circulation now accounts for 14.2 percent of total circulation, up from 8.66 percent in the report from last year (March 2011).

The ABC changed the way it measured circulation in response to the needs of publishers experimenting with new digital products. The first report to reflect those changes appeared last years, so the March 2012 report is the fits to appear that can be directly compared to the prior year.

Because of this, the report shows huge gains for The New York Times, with total average circulation climbing to 1,817,446, a 73.05 percent increase over the March 2011 report. The NYT now is reporting more total digital circulation (807,026) on its daily report than print (779,731).

Some papers were able to report large increases thanks to the "Total Branded Editions" category. Branded editions are defined as "editions of the newspaper that are published at least weekly, have a different name than the member newspaper, but are labeled to include the word edition.”
ABC also recognizes digital editions as both replica and nonreplica. Initially, there was an attempt to limit digital to replica editions, causing some publishers to believe that only exact replicas of their print editions would be recognized.

The New York Times, for instance, is shown on the new report with 30,329 digital replica circulation, but with 776,697 digital nonreplica circulation. Missing from the Top 25 newspapers in the digital editions category is the Chicago Tribune, while the Washington Post also continues to under perform major newspapers in digital circulation.

Update: The Boston Globe has issued a press release stating that the paper has recorded its first increase in circulation since 2004 with daily circulation up 2.9 percent to 225,482 (this puts them just out of the Top 25 as seen above), and 365,512 on Sunday, up 2.5 percent. The New York Times Company owned paper reported that it had 18,000 digital subscribers to its e-reader and replica edition products such as its The Boston Globe ePaper app.

You can read the TNM interview with the Globe's head of digital products, Jeff Moriarty, conducted last week.

House of Commons report on News International phone hacking scandal calls Rupert Murdoch unfit to lead the media company; Tory committee members stay loyal to Murdoch, voting against report and "unfit' label

The House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee issued a report this morning on the phone hacking scandal involving News International. The main finding that is being focused on by the media is that the committee calls Rupert Murdoch "not a fit person to exercise the stewardship of a major international company."

On the basis of the facts and evidence before the Committee, we conclude that, if at all relevant times Rupert Murdoch did not take steps to become fully informed about phone-hacking, he turned a blind eye and exhibited wilful blindness to what was going on in his companies and publications. This culture, we consider, permeated from the top throughout the organisation and speaks volumes about the lack of effective corporate governance at News Corporation and News International. We conclude, therefore, that Rupert Murdoch is not a fit person to exercise the stewardship of a major international company.
The report's conclusions list the witnesses that it said misled the committee including Les Hinton, a News Corp. journalist who was named CEO of the Wall Street Journal in 2007 but resigned that post last summer due to the scandal, Tom Crone, a British lawyer who worked for News International as Legal Affairs manager, as well as News International, in general.

In the end, however, the conservative U.K. government representatives on the committee lined up in support of Rupert Murdoch and on softening the report. The four Tory members, Dr Thérèse Coffey, Damian Collins, Philip Davies, Louise Mensch consistently voted against language that toughened the committee's report.

Tory MP Louise Mensch said this morning that none of the conservative members of the committee could support that report and "that will mean that it will be correctly seen as a partisan report". Mensch pointed to the inclusion in the report of the line that said Murdoch as unfit to lead News Corp.

All five Labour Party members, plus the one Liberal Democrat on the committee, Adrian Sanders, voted in favor of the final report and the wording concerning Rupert Murdoch.

The entire report is online and can be found here.

Blogsy & GQ update their iPad apps: not all app updates relate to 'retina' support as developers continue to refine their user interfaces

We like to track the latest media updates here at TNM, and based on traffic numbers it turns out our readers like the information. For the past two months most media updates have centered around getting apps upgraded to support the higher resolution new iPad. But developers often have other issues to resolve, and some are just constantly improving their apps.

One of these apps is Blogsy, which has updated its app just over a week ago, but today issued a rather extensive update.

I have yet to use Blogsy for mobile publishing, but users have consistently given it good marks inside the App Store. But today the developer, Fomola, issued an update that fixes a whole slate of issues including one that would have seriously bothered me.

Blogsy's newest update promises to fix a problem in Blogger where the "p" tags get lost if you edit a post created in Blogsy through Blogger. It is a bug that really is the fault of Google which continues to do a lousy job of supporting the platform (for instance, the scheduler now appears broken thanks to a Google update of the interface).

The app costs $4.99, and for those who do a lot of mobile blogging, appears well worth the investment.

Condé Nast has issued a new update for its GQ app.

This app had previously been updated to add 'retina' support, now this update changes the library/store interface.

What caught my attention, though, was the cover of the latest issue – see at left. That's Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls that is featured. Well, Rose tore his ACL in the very first game of the playoffs and will be out for the rest of the season. That makes the story more than a little out-of-date already, one of those bad breaks for both Rose and the editors of GQ.

The small number of reviews inside the App Store are also complaining about issues revolving around issue size and slowness of downloads. For me, I've always felt that the actual size of the issues is not the real problem, but the download speed. If an issue of going to weigh in a half a gig it there servers better be fast. For publishers looking for a new vendor this is one of those things they would be wise to test by downloading issues from other publishing customers.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Tribune Interactive launches a series of tablet magazines into the Apple Newsstand for the sports coverage of the Chicago Bulls and the Orlando Magic

Tribune Interactive today launched two new iPad apps for brand new digital magazines that take the sports coverage from the Chicago Tribune and the Orlando Sentinel and creates new tablet "magazines".
The two new iPad apps, The Bulletin, which covers the Chicago Bulls, and Blueprint for iPad, which covers the Orlando Magic, are great ideas – at least in theory.

Both digital products are a modern take on the tried-and-true newspaper special section, and so are exactly what modern newspaper publishers should be doing.

Once a newspaper (or any publisher) has created the ability to launch tablet editions (and mobile apps) they should be using this new skill to build products that can create new real estate for advertising, or alternatively, new products that the public will pay for. Because of this, I sincerely applaud the idea, if not the execution.

The problem at Tribune Interactive, though, is that their design sense is truly lacking, as believe are reflected in their new web products and the iPad apps that have launched.

The new digital magazines feel like they were thrown together at the last minute. A good example of this are the stats found inside the Orlando Magic app – they show the flag of the Chicago Tribune (oops). Also, the app launched today, at least a half a week too late – the playoffs have already started and so the digital magazines already feel out-of-date (the Bulls, by the way, lost their best player this weekend).

I can't help but feeling, however, that the experience in launching these new apps will be very useful in the long run. Rather than try and launch a special section styled tablet app in a hurry, though, I would have recommended launching apps for the Cubs, White Sox, etc. The lead time would have been greater, and the apps could have been targeted for a few days before Opening Day, with a few days built into the schedule in case something goes wrong.

Besides, a baseball app for the entire season will have, as they say, shelf life. While an app for the NBA playoffs could be obsolete in a moment's notice.

** An anonymous commenter pointed out that The Bulletin launched at the beginning of the season, which would be consistent with my recommended approach to launching sports apps. Blueprint for iPad, though, launched a couple of days after the beginning of the playoffs.

Incisive Media launches a natively designed iPad app for Investment Week; the tablet edition also serves to bring the latest news from the publication's website

The U.K. publisher Incisive Media released their first app for the iPad just after Labor Day of last year. That app, British Journal of Photography, was built using the Mag+ platform, has been highly praised.

This weekend saw the release of the publisher's tenth app, the new one for Investment Week. According to the staff page inside the app, the same app design team of App design team composed of Mick Moore, Tom Royal and Nicky Brown were responsible for this new app.
But unlike the photography magazine, Investment Week's tablet edition is free of charge.

The reason for this may be that the publication's website is open to web readers. But the one category that publishers know will support a pay model is financial publications. This explains why the WSJ, Financial Times and The Economist have made the smoothest transition to digital.**

The app is well worth downloading. Once the reader subscribes to the publication (for free) they can download their first issue. That issue weighed in at 138 MB (and did take a while to download). Once loaded, the issue can be read in both portrait and landscape. One can also gain access to the latest financial news by clicking a link that brings in news from the website.

In addition to the two publications previously mentioned, Incisive Media also has a strange mix of apps such as the replica edition of Computing Magazine produced by PixelMags. The company would be smart to stick to native designed apps based on both the British Journal of Photography and Investment Week.

**I've been told by Rebecca Wilson, Head of Digital Operations at Incisive Media, that the periodical is a free trade publication. I guess I was confused about this as a search online shows that one can pay for a subscription. Obviously I was not familiar with Investment Week before the launch of the app – one of the best reasons to launch such an app, right?


The Bark premieres inside Apple's Newsstand with a replica edition iPad app from BlueToad

Quite a number of years ago I worked for an online video start-up in Chicago. The company wanted to break into the online video world by producing video content in a number of categories. When I was there my own vision was to partner with for great magazine and retail brands – brands that were somewhat behind in their digital media strategies and could use the video content, but whose brands would be a big plus for us.

In the food category I contacted several New York-based magazines and eventually found what I thought was the perfect title: one that was fantastic in print, but pretty far behind the competition online.

New iPad hi-res image
When told by the CEO that the video company wanted to work in the pet category I immediately started searching for a great pet magazine to work with. The usual suspects, frankly, are not very well run, and editorially not very exciting. But The Bark, a Berkeley, California magazine, seemed perfect, however. Here was a magazine with personality.

The Bark is run by the team of Claudia Kawczynska and Cameron Woo. Together they have created a magazine for the category that is so unique that it easily stands out from the crowd when you see the title at a PetsMart or other locations. For the publishing team at The Bark, the magazine is not about breeds and dog shows, but as their new app's description says, the magazine is "devoted to exploring the bond between people and their dog."

Unfortunately, that online video company never worked with The Bark, or any other magazine, for that matter. The first dog video that the production company produced was all about dog grooming and was so the opposite of what The Bark is about that I never showed them the finished product. A few weeks later the company and I agreed that we were not a good fit. No kidding. All the magazine partners remain publishing while that video company remains a non-player.

This morning The Bark made its initial appearance inside Apple's Newsstand. The Bark, the dog culture magazine HD is a free app that offers app versions of the digital flipbooks the magazine has produced by BlueToad.

There is not much to say about these replica editions, of course. They are hard to read and are not designed for the iPad but for print. For a smallish magazine like The Bark, I suppose going the replica route is logical, if disappointing.

The issue I looked at did feature embedded video, ironically. Though rather crudely produced, the video is far more appropriate for The Bark than what was created by that Chicago company I mentioned above. The video, though, is not unique to the iPad edition, as it is also embedded into the Flash flipbook version created by BlueToad and found on the magazine's website. The same few pages that can be viewed for free online (before you are required to purchase) make up the preview inside the iPad app.

For those readers who can not access the print edition at a local newsstand, this might prove to be a good way to become acquainted with the title. For loyal readers, however, it would be a far better reading experience to stick to the print edition.

Here is a short walk through the latest issue of The Bark as seen on the iPad.

Magazine publishers continuing issuing updates to their tablet apps to take into account the new iPad's 'retina' display; The New Republic and Installation the latest

Slowly but surely magazine publishers are issuing updates to their tablet apps that make an adjustment for the new iPad's higher resolution display. Two of the latest to issue updates are The New Republic for iPad and the independent title Installation Magazine, an art magazine.

The New Republic recently got a new majority owner, Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes. Three weeks later the magazine dropped its paywall. While this move might have been done at the urging of the new owner, most likely we won't see major changes to the editorial direction of the magazine for another month or two due to the dynamics of the publishing schedule.

The New Republic's digital edition is available for $3.99 per month or $39.99 for an annual subscription. The app gives you access to both the print edition and the web edition, and states that the app is free for the first 14 days. We'll see if they change this model soon

Installation Magazine, which launched inside Newsstand in mid-March, has also issued an update to its iPad app in order to take advantage of the higher resolution display of the new iPad. The magazine centers on the art community in Los Angeles, so higher resolution graphics make perfect sense for this title.

Zillow launches rental housing application for Android

The real estate information company, Zillow, Inc., has launched a dedicated mobile app for the rentals market, and it has done so first on the Android platform.
Zillow Rentals - Houses & Apts is the company's first app dedicated solely to rentals, though the company's iOS and standard Android app also have rental housing information.

"Renters shop differently from buyers and look at many homes quickly, in specific locations, in a short amount of time," said Jeremy Wacksman, vice president of consumer marketing and mobile at Zillow. "The Zillow Rentals for Android App was created specifically to address their needs by organizing listings in an easily-accessible way and allowing them to shop for the right home on location, in the neighborhood where they want to live."

While most developers launch first for the iOS platform, it is, of course, not unheard of that apps for Android appear first. Zillow has two apps in Apple's App Store: a universal app, Zillow Real Estate, and their mortgage calculator app, Mortgage Calculator & Mortgage Rates.

All the Zillow apps are free to download and use.