Friday, September 28, 2012

America's Test Kitchen shows that a simple approach to tablet editions can work with its release of an iPad edition for 'Cook's Country Magazine'

Going native – that is, native iOS app – does not mean having to go crazy. A simple approach to tablet edition design can work even better sometimes than throwing in all the bells and whistles into an app.

One of the newest additions to the Apple Newsstand, released last night, is from America's Test Kitchen. Cook's Country Magazine is the second tablet edition from the company – the first being Cook's Illustrated Magazine.

The app follows some basic principals of tablet design that go all the way back to 2009, before the iPad was announced: scroll for pages within a story, swipe to progress to the next story.

Recipes are reached through a link found in the story.

The first issue found inside the new app is for the October/November issue and weighs in at 583 MB. The download is fairly swift, though one wouldn't want to download any digital magazine larger than 100 or 200 MB while waiting at an airport.

Despite the fact that the parent company has loads of video one won't find video in this tablet edition, something many cooking magazines are missing (and therefore creating a good opportunity for digital start-ups).

But this app's approach to navigation is perfect for cooking. Most stories contain three layers of content: the first is the story, the second is the recipe, and the third is what the magazine calls "cooking mode". As a cook myself I love the way this is designed.
I have three issues with the app, though.

The first, of course, is the lack of video. With the issue already at 583 MB one can see that adding video would be probably make the app unacceptable large (it is probably as big as it is due to support for retina displays). So let's move on to the other objections.

The second is that there is no support for landscape. Again, because the app editions are already so large one could dismiss this objection. But most iPad cases/stands, including Apple's own products, support landscape only. Most cooks, therefore, would want to use a cooking app or magazine in landscape.

The third objection, though, is the one that will generate the most complaints inside the App Store: print subscribers must pay again to access the issues.

The publisher explains their reason for charging for digital magazines on the company's website:
At this time, there is no discount for the app for iPad subscription for current print subscribers. Unlike most publishers, which are mostly concerned about selling advertisements, Cook's Illustrated does not accept any advertising or promotional revenue. We are 100% ADVERTISING FREE, and rely on the revenue from our magazine subscriptions and single issue sales to support our product. Considering the costs involved in creating, maintaining and updating our magazine on the iPad, we have no choice but to charge for subscriptions.
This sounds reasonable, though I'm sure that if I were a print subscriber I'd still feel a bit ripped off. But it certainly is nice to see the publisher explaining their position clearly.

Readers want to subscribe to Cook's Country Magazine inside the Newsstand supported app will pay $1.99 per month or $19.99 per year. How this exactly works for a bi-monthly though is a little unclear to me. (Does this mean that issues actually cost the reader $3.98 per issue?) Individual issues can also be purchase at $4.99 per digital edition.

The app offers a free trial, as well, which will allow you to download the latest issue and check it out yourself.

A rare admission of failure from Apple

Apple's CEO Tim Cook took the rare step of apologizing to the company's customers concerning the launch of the new Apple Maps via a letter posted on the Apple website.

Apple replaced the original maps application within its iOS devices with the launch of iOS 6 – many wise users have chosen not to upgrade their devices because of this. Customers that have updated have complained about the poor mapping app that replaced the original Google-driven app, and the media has beaten up Apple for its rare misstep. (Yes, the new maps are that bad.)

What you may find interesting about the note below is Cook's recommendation that users consider downloading other navigation software or placing an icon on their screens derived from web solutions such as Google Maps. My interpretation of this would be that Cook understands that it may take Apple a long time before its own Maps are an acceptable product. (I have chosen to create an icon for Google Maps, an easy thing to do – simply launch Safari, navigate to Google Maps, then using the arrow below the web page choose "Add To Home Screen".)

Here is Tim Cook's online letter in full:
To our customers,

At Apple, we strive to make world-class products that deliver the best experience possible to our customers. With the launch of our new Maps last week, we fell short on this commitment. We are extremely sorry for the frustration this has caused our customers and we are doing everything we can to make Maps better.

We launched Maps initially with the first version of iOS. As time progressed, we wanted to provide our customers with even better Maps including features such as turn-by-turn directions, voice integration, Flyover and vector-based maps. In order to do this, we had to create a new version of Maps from the ground up.

There are already more than 100 million iOS devices using the new Apple Maps, with more and more joining us every day. In just over a week, iOS users with the new Maps have already searched for nearly half a billion locations. The more our customers use our Maps the better it will get and we greatly appreciate all of the feedback we have received from you.

While we’re improving Maps, you can try alternatives by downloading map apps from the App Store like Bing, MapQuest and Waze, or use Google or Nokia maps by going to their websites and creating an icon on your home screen to their web app.

Everything we do at Apple is aimed at making our products the best in the world. We know that you expect that from us, and we will keep working non-stop until Maps lives up to the same incredibly high standard.

Tim Cook
Apple’s CEO

Future PLC reports that it has sold £5m through the Apple Newsstand since its launch one year ago; with print sales falling, new revenue stream is vital to company's fate

A number of trade media outlets reported on the short Trading Update the publisher Future PLC issued yesterday that mentioned its Newsstand sales. The news was definitely good, though it would pay to put it in perspective.

The Future PLC team, led by chief executive Mark Wood, issued a Trading Update that announced good progress in digital magazine sales. "Our progress towards a predominantly digital business continues. Sales of digital editions on Apple devices have passed £5m in the period since the Apple Newsstand was launched in October 2011," the update reported.

The UK publisher has been very aggressive in its digital publishing efforts with 110 iPad apps in Apple's App Store as of this morning, 67 of which can be found in the Newsstand. £5 million, when broken out by all the publications, is certainly looks like a smaller amount, but one must remember that many of Future's titles are niche publications such as Crochet Today! and Prog Magazine – most are simple replica editions that offer little interactivity, and many can barely be read due to the reduction in page size. (Few are like Cycling News HD, reformatted for the tablet platform).
Since 2007, the beginning of the economic crisis, Future has seen its revenue (or Turnover) reduced from £165.7M to £141.7M in 2011, and operating profits go from £12.1M to a loss of £16.5M (though EBITDA fell at a more modest level from £16.1 to £7.8 from 2007 to 2011).

From a business perspective, it would be hard for Future to sell off some of its titles to improve its bottom line as many of them are probably of little value, so keeping costs under control and making sure titles are not bleeding cash is of utmost importance.

Future PLC also reported in its Trading Update that it sees improvement in the U.S., stating that the company continues "to make strong progress and are close to returning to profitability, fulfilling a commitment we made a year ago to be profitable in the US in FY 2013."

Compared to many other publishing companies, Future PLC's revenue losses since 2007 look modest, though I am sure it doesn't feel that way within the company itself.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Emmis Communications releases five new iPad editions for its city/regional magazines titles in Los Angeles, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Atlanta and Texas

Emmis Communications, which operates radio stations and publishes city/regional magazines, today released five new tablet editions inside the Apple Newsstand.

Launched today were Los Angeles Magazine, Indianapolis Monthly Magazine, Cincinnati Magazine, Atlanta Magazine and Texas Monthly.

The only magazines that are part of the Emmis portfolio that did not see an app get launched were Country Sampler and Orange Coast. Since all the apps are identical, one can assume apps for those titles should appear soon.

Emmis has a digital division, but judging by these new apps I would have to doubt whether these unimaginative app editions came out of that division (did they?).

Each of the apps, other than their support for Apple's Newsstand, look as if they could have come out back in 2010. Each only give the reader digital replicas of the print edition with only a few links thrown in to assist navigation.

While the digital editions can be read in both portrait and landscape, no reformatting is done to accomodate the tablet platform. Two-page ads look OK in landscape but are unreadable, while the ads make little sense in portrait.

Likewise the editorial pages are as you'd see them in print, including the left-right page folios at the bottom of each page.

The reader can use pinch-to-zoom to assist them and the digital editions did load and navigate smoothly, but otherwise these are pretty backwards looking replicas. As a publisher I would prefer that these were housed in a digital newsstand like Zinio rather than launched as branded apps.

Each of the apps offer monthly subscriptions at $1.99 per month, while the annual subscription price varies based on the number of issues each magazine publishes (for instance, Indianapolis Monthly is monthly but also offers two guides for 14 issues total).

The iPad editions do not offer print subscribers access to the digital editions, so look for plenty of angry reviews beginning to appear inside the App Store.
Left: the library page where issues can be purchased or a subscription bought; Middle: the subscription pop-up; Right: since these are replica editions, no reformatting for the tablet platform was produced.

It is certainly a bigg challenge to produce natively designed tablet editions at a city/regional magazine than at a large national brand. Ad page prices are typically low (compared to national magazines) and staffs are often lean.

But if the goal is incremental revenue gains, other digital newsstands are available, one needn't use the Apple newsstand for such a minor project as the launch of a replica edition.

At a chain such as Emmis Communications, with seven city/regional titles, one would think that a more imaginative and profitable solution would be to pursue both national and local advertising targeted specifically for the digital editions. Alternatively, incorporating iAds or some other network is another option.

But Emmis, whose stock is currently trading at below $2, is probably not in a position to invest in digital publishing solutions - which is sad, because very few regional publishers have a large enough portfolio of titles to justify new digital publishing platforms for their production staffs.

French digital newsstand vendor lekiosk updates its universal iOS app to fix bugs related to iOS 6

The French digital newsstand vendor lekiosk, a sort of mix of Zinio and Next Issue, has updated its iOS app in order to fix bugs and make their app iOS 6 compliant.

lekiosk has a gimmick: it is designed to look like a physical newsstand which, I suppose, makes some sense in Europe where the old fashioned newsstands can still be found.

Recently lekiosk was able to ad more than 90 U.K. titles to its digital newsstand, breaking out its offerings into two different stores, though within one app.

lekiosk is trying to break through and today got a review of its service in the U.K. daily The Telegraph. The review was mixed, and not surprisingly focused on the "cute" user interface.

What makes lekiosk unique isn't really the UI but the ability, like Next Issue, to buy a subscription package that includes more than one magazine. In the case of lekiosk, the digital newsstand will let you buy a 10 magazine package for $13.99 per month - a slight discount off the same price one would pay via monthly subscriptions inside the Apple Newsstand.

The weakness of lekiosk, besides its cute interface, is that inside the digital newsstand what you are presented with are simple replica editions. This is the problem with just about every digital newsstand (with exception of Next Issue): the digital magazines don't feature native designed magazines.

TNM has written about lekiosk in the past, but if you are unfamiliar with the 3D newsstand in the platform here is a walk-through the newly updated app:

American Express Publishing updates its iPad apps for Travel + Leisure and Food & Wine magazines, readers will be forced to re-download issues

American Express Publishing has updated the two magazine apps that are in the Apple Newsstand, Travel + Leisure and Food & Wine. The app descriptions do not give readers a clue as to why the apps are being updated – there are no mentions of bug fixes or making the apps iOS 6 compliant, for instance.

But one could probably assume that the updates concern the newly updated Apple mobile OS since neither app is universal so no accommodation for the new iPhone 5's screen would be necessary.
The big message to readers, though, is that when they update the app they will have to re-download whatever issues they previously accessed.

It looks like previous updates forced readers to do the same thing as the most recent reviews inside the App Store complain about lost issues and wasted time re-downloading previous bought digital issues.

AmEx's pricing policies for their tablet editions is reasonable: monthly subscriptions cost $1.99 and an annual subscription is $19.99. Print subscribers can access the digital issues by signing in through the app. Individual issues can be bought for $3.99.

Update: Because of a change of file formats, the app will be delivering the issues in a different file format, which is why readers with older issues will be forced to redownload them. This is no big deal in my mind. In fact, I see no reason why publishers shouldn't go ahead and tell their readers this right in the app description. In any case, the important thing here is letting readers know that this will have to be done, and AmEx did that (though I'm sure some will still complain inside the App Store).

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Journal Register and MediaNews Group continue to outsource their app launches despite claims of being 'digital first'; series of new apps come from Spreed

The two newspaper companies which are being operated under the umbrella company Digital First Media, Journal Register Company and MediaNews Group, today have launched a series of new stand-alone iPad apps through the app developer Spreed.

New apps for the Journal Register Company are The Oakland Press for iPad, The Saratogian for iPad and Daily Freeman for iPad. A fourth app, Macomb Daily for iPad, had launch earlier.

Meanwhile, MediaNews Group launched new apps for several newspapers, while updating several others. Launched were Eureka Times-Standard for iPad and Inland Valley Daily Bulletin for iPad.

Recently Journal Register Company filed for bankruptcy protection for the second time in three years. Looking at these new tablet apps, which do not require a paid subscription, and contain no advertising, it is hard to see how these apps will help the company's bottom line. The outsourcing of app development adds costs but offers little upside when you ask nothing back from either readers or advertisers.

Looking at the direction the newspapers operating as Digital First Media are heading it is easy to be completely cynical about the future of the newspaper industry. But many journalism sites still have a soft spot for the company and continue to sing sad songs whenever they hear of more layoffs or another financial setback.

But a look inside the App Store shows zero apps that have a sustainable business model, something that might be useful if the company truly is serious about surviving. Being committed to digital media does not mean not having respect for the bottom line - really.
Left: The Oakland Press is leading with the death of Andy Williams, but is having a bit of a headline issue; Right: The Saratogian app is similar to all the other new apps: simple text layouts, no ads and no subscriptions required.

Infographics, live Internet radio and TV: the new gadgets, projects and play things may point the way

Sometimes I get serious blowback concerning my obvious distain for replica editions. I try not to be dogmatic about it, understanding that sometimes a replica may be the way to go.

The problem, though, is that the replica should be exception to the rule, not the rule. The reason is simply that digital media is evolving quickly and to think of digital platforms as only ways to extend the reach of print is to miss the forest for the trees.

New Media is more than simply another series of platforms. Publishers should understand that the new platforms are opening up new ways to tell stories, new product possibilities, new ways to communicate, to advertise – and ultimately, to make profits. Few publishers are pursuing all these possibilites (most are missing the profit part, of course). But many are doing outstanding work.

Even the work that is less than stellar can be interesting. I find, for instance, the WSJ's efforts at live broadcasting pretty laughable. But I still applaud the effort. The Boston Globe's move into Internet radio may have originated in a very unique opportunity, but it is still great to see.

This infographic from The Guardian and Real Clear Politics, with its own URL is a wonderful example of the trend towards new ways to convey sometimes complicated information. The infographic, which can also be seen below in the video, is just another way to chart out information. But by communicating the information in an interactive graphic, the message becomes both informative and fun.

When thinking about The Guardian's tablet edition, the inclusion and emphasis on features such as this is what should have guided the creators of the paper's iPad edition – not a new way to present the old information. The app that has resulted, the app that is now called The Guardian and Observer iPad edition, can certainly evolve into something new and exciting. A replica edition, though, can not.

Magzter floods Apple's Newsstand with replica editions as publisher get lured by cheap, easy digital publishing

The New York and India based digital publishing platform Magzter this morning released eight new digital magazines into Apple's Newsstand (and one yesterday, as well), as publishers continue to be lured by the promise of easy digital publishing and potential supplemental revenue.

Each of the digital magazines are sold under the Magzter name rather the name of the publisher.

The new magazines appearing inside the Newsstand are Secret Magazine, art4d, Real Parenting Magazine, Sudsapda, room Magazine, High On Passion, My Home Magazine, WE Magazine and lemonade Magazine.

There are now 190 different titles appearing under the Magzter name inside the Apple App Store. Most of the titles are from India or Southeast Asia as the company's origins are from the area. Few U.S. titles can be found in the catalog of magazines sold under the Magzter name. Whether this reflects the desire of U.S. and European publishers to produce digital editions more native to tablets, or just the focus of Magzter is hard to say.

The Magzter business proposition is simple: publishers sign up for the service and upload PDFs of their print magazine to the Magzter servers where they are converted into digital replicas for various platforms without cost to the publisher. An app is launched and the publisher splits the resulting revenue with Magzter 50-50 (minus the commissions paid to Apple, Google, etc.).
The apps appear under the Magzter name unless the publisher pays for the creation of an app under their own name. This service costs $1999 and does not eliminate the revenue split.

The Magzter system does allow for some enhancements to the strictly replica editions produced. Links and embedded media can be added, though most publishers eschew adding additional content as the lure of the system is that the system is fairly painless from a production stand point and without upfront cost to the publisher.

The fact that the resulting digital editions are practically unreadable on either smartphones or tablets does not seem to be a consideration for many print publishers.

News Corp. to allow Google to display first sentences of articles in its search results, easing solid paywall policy

You can't live them, you can't live without them. That is what News Corp. seems to be acknowledging with its decision to reverse course and allow Google to display a preview of articles in its search results.

For Rupert Murdoch it must be a somewhat humiliating admission that in today's media world it is impossible to pretend that newspapers don't need companies like Google in order to attract new readers.

"We live in such an interconnected world that the amplifier effect of the modern media is such that no good story, no interesting piece of commentary is going to be lost – in fact quite the opposite," Times editor James Harding is quoted as saying in The Guardian this morning.

With the change web readers will be able to see the first few sentences of Times and Sunday Times articles, but will still see a notice that they will have to subscribe to read the entire piece.

The paper charges £4 per week for a digital subscription, while offering the first three months at £2 a week.

While most newspaper have chosen to employ a metered paywall approach, where readers can access content through links and search engine results, at least up to a certain level of read articles, News Corp. has put up a solid paywall, forcing all non-subscribers to pay immediately.

The new policy is a crack in the system but the question is whether this move is enough of a compromise to improve the performance of the company's websites.

Barnes & Noble introduces two new tablet models that focus on media consumption

While Amazon tries to battle all comers with its new Kindle Fires, Barnes & Noble appears content to go after a middle area – consumers who want an eReader that has the capacity for multimedia consumption, as well.

The book retailer today introduced two new models of its NOOK, a 7-inch NOOK HD with prices starting at $199, and a 9-inch NOOK HD+ with prices starting at $269.

The 7-inch model comes in colors B&N calls Snow and Smoke with two storage capacities, 6 GB and 16 GB, priced at $199 and $229 respectively. The 9-inch model NOOK HD+ comes in 16 GB and 32 GB configurations, with the larger storage model priced at $299.

The new models are available for preorder now with shipping scheduled for November 1.

Prices for the original NOOK Tablet have been reduced to $179 for the 8 GB model and $199 for the 16 GB model.

The new 7-inch NOOK HD sports an improved display with a resolution of 1440 x 900, with 243 pixels per inch, while the the NOOK HD+ has a resolution of 1920 x 1280 at 2645 pixels per inch..

B&N is concentrating its sales efforts on consumers interested mostly in media consumption, emphasizing its book and movies. The new NOOKs, however, will come with an new email app that supports Microsoft Exchange Active Sync.

Missing, though, is both connectivity other than WiFi and a camera. The absence of both no doubt allows B&N to keep its costs down and offer its new tablets at such low prices.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Condé Nast releases new iPad app, Best of Parade

One of the properties Condé Nast owns that until today did not have its own tablet edition is its Sunday magazine Parade. But can the company release a digital version of the magazine, or does its contracts with its newspaper partners preclude this?

The new app from Condé Nast Digital avoids this question. Best of Parade is not a digital reproduction of the magazine you find in the Sunday edition of your local paper but is instead more of a special section.

The app offers readers a chance to subscribe free of charge, but what readers will get for signing up is an open question.

The first issue available inside the app is Fall Entertainment - 2012. The issue weighs in at a bit over 300 MB and is to be read in portrait orientation. The digital issue contains plenty of video, as you'd expect from a special section that is looking at the fall television line-up. Much of the video links to content being hosted online, off the app. But some of the video is embedded, as well.

Because this is not your Sunday magazine, the special section needed a different approach to advertising. In this case, the publisher logically went with a single sponsor (Bose).

Where the editors want to go with this app will be interesting to see. The app description gives really no clue to its direction. The development team did a good job with the digital edition, but a pretty poor job of writing an app description.

Here is a walk-through the beginning of the issue found inside Best of Parade:

Citizen publishers launch their own digital magazines, but the lack of a low cost digital publishing platform leads to some amateurish looking efforts

I normally wouldn't write about a new app such as Install Magazine, but thought it would be a good idea to once again call on Apple to create a program like iBooks Author but for magazine publishers.

Install Magazine is a bit like the nightmares I have concerning creating my own tablet magazine. As a former newspaper and magazine publisher I have basic InDesign and Quark skills. I can create a page layout, in other words, but you wouldn't want to see it print (or on the iPad).

Install is one of those digital magazines that reflects the joy of app creation, and the agony of launching.

The digital magazine is a series of single pages without any interactivity other than an embedded YouTube video and a few links. The magazine is supposed to be about mobile apps, and supposedly comes from someone who claims to be a developer, but really...

But let's not make fun of the effort here. Good job, well done, and all that.

The issue is that we're going to get many more of these amateurish looking digital publications until Apple gives us a solution as good as iBooks Author.

While Install Magazine is a freebee, another new digital magazine called MyPad Magazine wants to charge $6.99 per issue. It says the digital magazine covers such topics as "blogging from you iPad (sic)". The magazine looks like an informercial and really makes you wonder if Apple's CEO Tim Cook has instructed the app review team to let anything into the App Store so long as it has the potential to add another dollar to the company's bottom line.
At this late date, two and a half years after the launch of the original iPad, I am rather shocked that Apple hasn't done anything in the way of creating their own digital publishing platform for the iPad. Apple, you see, has this huge iAds issue. If the company were Google, it would see that in order to create inventory craving ads it should encourage more citizen publishing. Conversely, Google has the mobile ad platform but has such a fragmented tablet platform that it can't gain any traction.

Compounding the situation for citizen publishers seeking an inexpensive publishing solution is Apple's decision to default the sorting its apps by sales not release date. This makes it hard for new publishers to have their digital publishing efforts found inside the App Store. For now, maybe that is a good thing.

Morning Brief: Mag+ updates review app to add iPhone 5 support; NYT updates its iPad app; Atlantic Media's responsive design website is really designed for mobile and tablets, a possible miss on the desktop

The flood of app updates following the release of both the new iPhone 5 and iOS 6 has been reduced to a trickle, but several important updates were issued overnight.

Mag+ updated its reviewer app once again. Version 4.0.1 comes only days following the previous update which made the app universal.

The new update to Mag+ Reviewer adds support for the new iPhone 5 which sports a 4-inch display rather than the older model's 3.5-inch.
Reviewer apps are used, of course, in the creation of tablet and mobile apps to render the design so the production staff can see their work as if it were live. The production person builds their Mag+ platform app in InDesign then with the push of a button the work is exported to the Reviewer app.

The New York Times has updated its iPad edition, NYTimes for iPad. The update makes the iPad app iOS 6 compliant.

One thing one notices right away in iTunes is that the NYT app continues to say that the latest issue is November 23, 2011. This is the fault of Apple's system which gives developers an area called "What's New In This Issue" where they can add information about their app. The area is a leftover from days when magazine publishers would update their apps every issue – something done by some publishers before Apple created Newsstand. Newspaper app developers have no reason to use the area, but once used it shows up in iTunes until the text is eliminated or updated.
Atlantic Media launched Quartz, a new business news site. The site has gathered some press attention, mainly for its use of responsive design.

The new site looks great on the iPad and on smartphones, but like many responsive designed sites, Quartz looks rather silly on the desktop.

In an age of smaller laptops and tablets, many web designers have fallen in love with responsive design and the design-once approach. Like the box look for Flipboard, sites like Quartz have many art directors excited.

For me, someone who works with two large displays, reading Quartz on my computer is like sitting in the front row at an IMAX movie.

Reporting yesterday on the new website, AllThingsD's Peter Kafka brought up the fact that Quartz has launched without an app and will have to compete against other financial news sites, especially the Financial Times with one hand tied behind their back (my words, not his).

I think Kafka is very much right about the problems of having to depend solely on ad revenue, but TNM readers might be surprised to know that I am not all that concerned about the app part.

While I think it is wise for any New Media venture to launch immediately with apps, it is not essential if the focus on first on the web.

The problem I have with Quartz, at least given my first impressions, it that the team seems to have a lack of understanding of the reading habits of digital media consumers. Quartz appears to feature long form journalism, yet is web oriented and without an app.

Reading studies conducted of digital media readers show that the web is best for short bites, while tablets best for leisurely reading. A web app that mimics tablet formats doesn't change the reading habits of consumers.

In other words, Quartz looks like a mismatch of design. But let's give it a few weeks and months to see how things go. In general, I like what I am seeing out of The Atlantic, so maybe Quartz is on the right track.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Analysts miss Apple iPhone sales forecasts, media places blame not on the analysts but Apple (bang head on desk)

It happens every quarter, every time there is a product launch: some foolish analyst predicts earnings or sales and gets it wrong. But many in the tech media world then write that it was the company "missed", not the analyst. Sorry, but if I say the Dodgers are going to win the West and the Giants do it, I'm the one wrong - after all, it wasn't the Dodgers that made the prediction.

As you probably have read already, Apple has reported that the iPhone 5 launch has gone peachy, with sales exceeding 5 million units, 1 million more than a year ago with the launch of the iPhone 4S. (There probably would have been even more sales but many FedEx drivers updated their iPhones to iOS 6 and couldn't locate the Apple Store using Maps _ OK, I made that part up.)

So what is the real story? If you are a tech site there shouldn't be one – tech sites are supposed to cover technology not forecasts. But you'd be hard pressed to find a tech site that isn't obsessed with earnings and market share stories. (Maybe they should concentrate on spreading false Facebook rumors. Oh, they are. Never mind.)

The financial news sites certainly should care about earnings and sales. But they are not all honest reporters of the news. BusinessInsider, for instance, has been steadily beating the short-Apple drum for quite some time, and appear very disappointed that the company's stock has not cratered.

As for news sources such as Bloomberg, they reported that some analyst at Topeka Capital Markets had estimated sales to hit 6 million. He was wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. He predicted one thing and was off. It is, apparently, his business to be able to make sales predictions, but he clearly isn't very good at it.

So what should the story be? That some analysts are idiots and shouldn't be listened to. Like the folks who claimed WMD in Iraq, they were wrong, why are they still appearing on my TV screens? If Bloomberg had a story at all it was that this guy at Topeka Capital Markets remains employed even though he gives his clients bad information. Maybe there should be an investigation.

The reason we don't get stories that take this angle, I figure, is that the reporter wouldn't have anyone to talk to if they started admitting that their sources are faulty. But analysts are guys who couldn't make it as career criminals and so practice their trade at financial companies. They're charlatans, just ignore them and report the news. Please.

Groupon buys Savored, a restaurant discount and reservation start-up

The leading daily deals website Groupon has acquired the restaurant discount and reservations start-up Savored, according to a blog post by Savored co-founder and CEO Ben McKean.

"Together, Groupon and Savored will be able to deliver even more exceptional dining experiences to consumers while continuing to focus on restaurant profitability," McKean wrote. "The Savored product will remain sophisticated and elegant, enabling diners to make reservations at the very best restaurants and receive discounts of up to 40% seamlessly taken off their bill."

The deal is being presented first and foremost as a technology deal, though most Savored users will see this as a deal between two daily deals sites.

Savored works by having users pre-pay $10 for a reservation which then grants them a discount on their restaurant bill. The business model assumes some will not use the reservation, or then the discount. For restaurants, the lure of Savored is that seats that normally would not be filled can be sold, even if they are discounted.

Launched originally as VillageVines, Savored works in ten cities: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Washington DC.

The irony of the deal is that Savored has agreed to be acquired, while Groupon rejected its acquisition opportunity, choosing to go public instead. On the news Groupon stock sank trading at $5.14 a share, down over 2.5 percent.

Time Inc. launches a newly updated iPad app for Fortune, which still contains its hybrid tablet edition

Time Inc. has today updated its iPad app for Fortune. The app now contains what the publisher calls a "soup-to-nuts in a dashboard" – basically an in-app website containing daily news, analysis and commentary.

Also inside the app, FORTUNE Magazine, is the actual digital magazine, of course. So now the newly updated app is a hybrid, of sorts – part website, part magazine, part free, part paid.

Current print subscribers will continue to be able to access the digital editions of the magazine free of additional charge, while new readers can buy individual issues for $4.99, or subscribe for $2.99 per month or $19.99 for a year.

The newest issue of Fortune inside the updated app is for the issue dated October 8 and features their article "The 50 Most Powerful Women" inside.

The tablet edition weighs in at 243.3 MB and can be read in both portrait and landscape. It, too, is a hybrid of sorts. The ads are pretty much as you would see them in print while the editorial is reformatted for the tablet platform.

The hybrid approach to both tablet editions and apps is gaining some traction. The hybrid approach to building tablet editions makes sense for many publications that want the print advertisers to gain the extra readership, while the reformatted editorial improves readability and navigation. The hybrid approach to the app, where there is instant news upfront, works to make the app more vital to daily readers while also driving them to subscribe to the digital magazine.

There is currently no equivalent app for Android inside Google Play. If you own an Android tablet you would need to access Fortune through the Next Issue Android app.
Top-Left: the new Dashboard; Top-Right: the subscription page; Bottom-Left: a print ad seen in landscape in the tablet edition; Bottom-Right: a reformatted editorial page in the tablet edition.

Time Inc. has produced its own promotional video for the newly updated app for Fortune, saving me the trouble of producing a video walk-through:

Apple's new iPhone 5 begins to fragment the OS for developers as they are forced to adjust their apps for the larger display; BBC History Magazine is updated, but does not include support for the new iPhone

Many long time Apple observers had their doubts that the tech giant would introduce a new iPhone with a larger display for reasons that are slowly beginning to be become apparent – few thought that Apple would intentional fragment its line of devices the way Android is fragmented. By introducing a larger (actually just longer) iPhone, suddenly developers have a bit of a headache as they will need to update their apps if they want them to look as intended.

Many tech sites downplayed the effect of introducing a new display size saying simply that old apps would have a black band along the top and bottom of their apps.
That's true, but the effect is a bit jarring and not at all attractive.

One media app updated today, the magazine BBC History Magazine Digital, must have been in the works for a while, for while it now is universal, it does not seem to have been issued to bring the app to compliance for iOS 6 or to adjust the app for the new iPhone 5.

As seen at left, the app does not take advantage of the iPhone 5's longer display. The effect of having a top and bottom black band added is not too bad on a black iPhone, but on a white phone the app looks like a mistake.

It is odd that the publisher, Immediate Media Company Bristol, which purchased many of the BBC titles last year, would issue an app update and not include support for the new iPhone 5. But then again this app is not very good in any case.

The app for BBC History Magazine is a bare bones replica edition that really is pretty bad on the iPad, but now is positively silly on the iPhone. The few reviews inside the U.S. App Store, written prior to the app update, were brutal. This new update won't give prospective readers any reason to change their minds about the digital editions.

SportsTap updates its universal app and appears to have fixed major bugs, adds support for iPhone 5

Although a flood of app updates were issued last week as developers rushed to make sure their apps were iOS 6 and iPhone 5 compliant, most apps continued to function just fine before their updated. One app that has been pretty much dead, however has been SportsTap, the sports score application.

For weeks now users have been complaining that the app does not update scores any longer, which probably means that the problem was not related to anything Apple had issued. But I found that the app was useless to me once I had upgraded my device to iOS 6.
This morning, however, SportsTap has gotten the expected update, fixing bugs and adding support for the iPhone 5's longer display (as seen at left).

The early reviews inside the App Store still say that the app has problems. My own tests show the app to be slow to update, but working. It's possible that by fixing some bugs and making the app work properly on the new iPhone that the developer has introduced new problems.

Users, of course, have many choices for sports score apps. ESPN has its own mobile app, and baseball fans can always use the MLB At Bat app as a free mode to get scores. But SportsTap has been a popular app for its easy navigation.