Friday, October 5, 2012

The news media gets particularly hard hit in Greece and Spain as imposed austerity effects advertising levels

The news today on this side of The Atlantic is all about the new job figures and their possible impact on the Presidential race. But day after day the situation in Europe continues to worsen, especially in depressed countries such as Spain and Greece.

Lost in the news, I fear, is the impact the depressed economies are having on the news media overseas. On my recent trip to Greece I met with a number of media people who wanted to only talk about their prospects of employment in the States. Getting out was priority number one.
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Several strikes have closed newspaper newsrooms lately. There was a 24-hour walk out late last month that shut down many newsrooms, and the Athens News has been hit twice by walk outs due to unpaid salaries.

Today came word of staff cuts at El País, the Madrid daily. Juan Luis Cebrian, the president of the parent company, said that falling advertising would necessitate the staff reductions.

"It's not a matter of wanting to improve profitability. The newspaper no longer can support its current cost structure," said Cebrian. "At a time when the Spanish democracy is under attack, El País must continue to play a key role."

"Either we change our model and periodic structure, or we can not keep publishing El País," said José Luis Sainz, director at the paper.

According to El País, the fall in advertising in the Spanish market is far more severe, 53 percent, than in other markets including the U.S.

For those involved in the new digital platforms, the hard hit economies are also depressing the growth of mobile and tablet projects. Several news veterans told me that it is extremely hard to convince media management to invest in new digital products at a time of declining advertising.

The talent pool in both Spain and Greece, not to mention other European countries such as Portugal, Italy and Ireland, is very deep – far deeper than many realize. Whether local news media companies will be able to hang on to its talent is an open question.

Update: Thanks to Roy Greenslade for pointing to the El País announcement. Greenslade also has another interesting news item:

The Brazilian newspaper Diário de Natal, which circulates in the state of Rio Grande do Norte, is ceasing to publish in print and will go online only.

The paper's owner, Diários Associados (Associated Newspapers), said the transition from print to screen was due to the paper's negative financial results over the last several years...

Garmin releases a new tablet magazine into the Apple Newsstand with five different language versions available

The GPS technology company Garmin today released a new tablet magazine into the Apple Newsstand. Five separate apps were released as the company is supporting different language versions of the same digital publication.

The English language version of the digital magazine is called In The Moment, which the other four editions are Cogli l'attimo, Im Augenblick, Le Moment Présent and En El Momento Justo.

The purpose of the digital magazine, of course, is to promote the Garmin brand – in this case to athletes. Because of its marketing mission, both the apps and the issues are free of charge. I would assume that the company's agency had something to do with the new apps, but the digital publications appears to lack credits (unless I missed them).

The app is very well optimized. The first digital issue available inside weighs in at only 208 MB, and while its content is not extensive, the stories do contain video and animations that would normally boost the size of the file. The production team here did a good job of keeping the file size down.

Because of all the video and animation it is probably better to see the app in a video than through screenshots. So here is a brief walk through the beginning of the first issue:

Thursday, October 4, 2012

EMI Records releases an interesting, if crippled, new iPad app for the Blue Note jazz label; app developed by Chicago start-up Groovebug

Prior to the introduction event for the iPhone 5, rumors swirled around that Apple was interested in launching a music streaming product, possibly similar to Pandora. One can understand why, both Pandora and competitive platform Spotify are tremendously popular, and in many people's minds, represent the future of music broadcasting.

But, of course, the key is inking those content deals with the record labels. No deals, no music.

Apple is already a big player in the music business, and no doubt the labels are a little leery in letting Apple get even more entrenched into their business.

That won't stop other players from developing new products, though – or stop the labels from experimenting themselves.

Today, an interesting and pretty exciting new app for the iPad was launched by EMI Records. Developed by Chicago start-up Groovebug*, the app offers a subscription music streaming service for the legendary jazz label Blue Note.

If you are a jazz fan you probably already know all about Blue Note. If not, though, this new app, Blue Note by Groovebug is an essential download.

For $1.99 a month, music lovers get access to a treasure trove of great jazz. Great artists such as Art Blakey, John Coltrane and Miles Davis are here.

The app itself is very well designed and comes with biographical information, LP notes and details, and news articles to read.

It is almost perfect. Well, almost.

In fact, one wonders if in the eyes of EMI Records if the app goes too far. It is exactly what a music lover would want. So what has to happen, of course, is the app has to be crippled in some way.
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The way this is done here is to make sure that random LPs from the artists are missing, and that not all the tracks can be accessed.

At first I thought that maybe this had something to do with what is available in Apple's iTunes. If you've ever gone shopping for music there you know that you can either buy individual tracks or the whole LP. So on the classic Freddie Hubbard LP Hub Cap, for instance, the longest track on the LP, Luana, is not available for purchase – you'll have to buy the whole LP.

But inside the new Blue Note by Groovebug app Luana is there – instead its Cry Me Not that is missing. It doesn't make any sense to me, and seems totally random.

Further, while three great LPs are available in the new app, six other Blue Note LPs that were released by Hubbard are missing.

One could certainly understand EMI's position: what to offer listeners for a modest subscription price? what is access to the whole catalog worth?

If the purpose of Blue Note by Groovebug is to acquaint listeners with the label, this app succeeds wonderfully. It is certainly worth $1.99 per month.

* The app also mentions that it is "powered by The Echo Nest."

Update: Jeremiah Seraphine, CEO and Co-Founder at Groovebug, posted a commented on the TNM YouTube channel that I think is worth posting here:

"There are LPs and songs missing from the app now, but more will be added as rights are cleared. There are now hundreds of hours of music available with new updates on the way."



Here is a walk through the newly released Blue Note by Groovebug iPad app. The nice thing about music apps, especially this one, is the audio.

Groovebug has also produced a very nice promotional video, as well. You will be able to find that after the jump.



Microsoft closes $300 million deal with Barnes & Noble to guarantee media for its Windows 8 platform; deal gives tech giant 17.6% stake in NOOK Media LLC start-up

Redmond-based Microsoft is not going to stake the future of Windows 8 on a "build it and they will come" strategy. Today the tech giant announced that it had completed a deal with book retailer Barnes & Noble to invest in a new subsidiary, NOOK Media LLC.

The price of admission was $300 million. For that amount Microsoft will get an equity stake of pproximately 17.6 percent. That creates a valuation of the new entity of around $1.7 billion.

What Microsoft really wanted, however, was content – in this case, a commitment that B&N books and an app will appear for the Windows 8 platform.
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"NOOK Media is a leader in developing the next generation of digital reading and we look forward to the company bringing one of the world’s largest digital libraries to Windows 8 devices via their upcoming Windows 8 app," said Andy Lees, President at Microsoft, in the official announcement.

"We look forward to working closely with our new partner Microsoft to add value to their innovative new platform by bringing great reading experiences and one of the world’s preeminent digital bookstores to millions of Windows 8 users," said William Lynch, CEO of Barnes & Noble.

Unlike Amazon and its Kindle line, which Microsoft no doubt sees as a competitor (as does B&N), Microsoft has no direct line to content. Apple was able to avoid this pitfall by being the first to launch a popular tablet. This forced all the major media retailers to fall in line.

The danger here for consumers is that as retailers line up with platforms there may be a siloing effect as alliances keep content from being available across platforms.

Starbucks issues update that supports Apple's Passbook, but developers forget to add in support for the iPhone 5

Oops. In the world of app development there are just so many damn details, aren't there? Apple, Google others always issuing updates, who can keep up?

Starbucks today finally got around to updating its mobile app for Apple's iPhone, adding in the Passbook feature. But somehow the developers forgot to include in their update support for the iPhone 5. Reviews inside the App Store are gently (and not so gently) reminding the company of what is missing in the update.
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Apple's new Passbook app, which gathers up all of a user's tickets, coupons and store cards, comes in the new iOS 6 update (which some wise iPhone users are avoiding because of Apple's poorly implemented Maps).

Starbucks was certainly one of those stores that iPhone owners were hoping would implement Passbook quickly. To be honest, the lack of iPhone 5 support is a very minor annoyance. The slightly longer screen size hardly matters that much in this case.

The only reason that I can see that the new update doesn't include support for the iPhone 5's new display is that the update has been in the works for a while.

That would mean that yet another update is probably to be expected again very soon.

Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia releases three new food iPad apps in partnership with Happy Studio

A series of new apps from Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia (MSLO) blur the lines between eBooks and interactive apps. The new iPad apps, all built in partnership with Happy Studio would, in the print world, all be books, but in the digital world can be seen as either an eBook, a special issue digital magazine, or a stand alone app. They are, in other words, their own kind of new media.

The three new apps are Martha Stewart Makes Cookies, Martha Stewart Makes Cocktails, and Smoothies from Whole Living. Each is built upon the same idea as a previously released app, also built in partnership with Happy Studio, called Martha Stewart CraftStudio.

Each of the three new tablet apps are built to be used in landscape, which is the way most iPad cover/stands will hold the tablet for viewing while cooking.

Each of the app descriptions say that the apps are free of charge for a limited time. Looking at the previously released CraftStudio app, the business model here may be to view the apps as starter apps that will allow MSLO to later add modules for sale to owners of the app. CraftStudio is currently a paid app ($4.99) that also has individual in-app purchases available for $1.99 a piece.

The older app has received very good reviews from users inside the App Store, so the model seems to be working.

The cookies app is a very large download, 555 MB, and the app description warns potential downloaders that they should be on a WiFi connection when downloading. Inside the app are two additional "books" that can be downloaded, as well. For now both new modules are also free of charge. The Sugar & Spice Cookies section is sponsored by McCormick's (a company, that I'm told, is investing heavily in digital media).


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One feature that I failed to capture in the video below is the built-in timer feature, which if you think about it is pretty cool (seen at left, click picture to enlarge).

The app is, as you will see, very well done. But what I think MSLO sees it that the concept can be repeated many times with different themes.

The issue for publishers is whether the idea of launching an app that is free upon launch will be a profitable business model, or whether apps such as these only serve marketing purposes – in this case, promoting the Martha Stewart brand.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

American Airlines updates its iOS to add support for Apple's new feature Passbook

Slowly but surely, developers are starting to incorporate Apple's new Passbook feature into their mobile apps.

This afternoon American Airlines released an update to its universal iOS app that incorporates support for Passbook.

The new feature allows iPhone owners to have all their tickets and discount coupons in one area. Unlike the Newsstand, the updated app does not move into the new area but stays as a stand-alone app.

From the American Airlines app description:
For Passbook users, you can add your mobile boarding pass to Passbook and it will automatically appear on your lock screen as you get closer to your departure time. You can find out additional details about your flight by selecting the information button on the front of your pass in Passbook. This information button will display your record locator, departure date, duration of the flight, and if wifi is available for your flight. The pass will automatically update with flight details if flight status is checked in our app.
The new Passbook feature was introduced with the launch of iOS 6 and was, along with the new Maps, the big app changes introduced with the OS update (the camera app also contains a new feature, Panorama).

Passbook, while part of iOS 6, is not included in the iPad version of the software.

University of Missouri survey finds that newspaper publishers are feeling 'a sense of urgency to embrace digital platforms' but remain optimistic about their industry

A survey conducted by the University of Missouri School of Journalism and Reynolds Journalism Institute at MU found that newspaper publishers are generally optimistic about their industry, though are feeling pressure to move forward with new digital platforms.

Michael Jenner, the Houston Harte Endowed Chair at the University of Missouri School of Journalism presented his findings at the annual conferences of the Pacific Northwest Newspaper Association and New England Newspaper and Press Association. The survey consisted of interviews with the newspaper executives from more than 450 daily newspapers in the U.S.
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Michael Jenner

According to the survey, only 4 percent of respondents were not optimistic about the future of the newspaper industry, either proving that they know something others don't, or that denial is the way newspaper execs make it through their day.

While recognizing that circulation and advertising declines were big threats to newspapers today, Jenner also pointed out reservations about recent cutbacks.

"More than 40 percent of publishers viewed declining resources as a serious threat to their publications," Jenner said. “With the poor economy, many newspapers have been forced to implement large cuts to their staffs in recent years. This makes it very difficult for papers to innovate and develop new revenue models, particularly in the digital sphere. If newspapers want to survive in their current form, they are going to have to find ways to maintain enough resources to find new forms of revenue."

According to the survey, newspaper publishers are expecting digital to provide needed revenue gains, with 90 percent expecting increases to be generated in the next year.

"Publishers are definitely feeling a sense of urgency to embrace digital platforms," Jenner said. "Even though most publishers see a future in printed newspapers, most know that digital platforms, such as websites and mobile applications, are where the potential for increased revenue exists."

Is there a strategy for B2Bs on tablets than makes good business sense? Publishers remain cautious as platform appears friendlier to consumer publishing model

It is the first question I ask any B2B publisher who has just launched a new iPad app: was there any discussion, prior to launch, about whether to charge for the digital issues, or require registering before being able to access the issues?

Many simply shrug and say that their first app was an experiment and over time these things will get worked out. Others say that they feel like the whole tablet platform is a bit of a mismatch for them, but that ignoring tablets didn't seem wise.

For consumer publishers, the talk around the talk is usually about Apple and its policy to take 30 percent of all subscription sales. Publishers aren't happy about it, but most grudgingly go along. Many talk about the sharing of reader information, but the fact is, which they will sometimes admit, they don't really know who buys their magazines on newsstands until they do the research, so if Apple (or the reader) won't share that information, well, that is simply business as usual.

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For B2B publishers, however, the situation is completely different.

In the B2B world, a publisher launching a magazine starts with a list of those in the industry. They then begin sending out magazines to those desired readers free of charge, and then begin to qualify them – the process of having a reader give them information that confirms that they are a desired reader. The big three questions asked of the reader to qualify them are "are you part of this industry?," "are you in a position of authority?" and "do you want to receive this magazine (which is free, by the way)?"

The process of qualifying readers is a major expense for many publishers. The old fashioned way of doing this was through the reader response card. Thousands of cards would be stitched into magazines or mailed out to readers.

Today, most B2Bs depend on telemarketing firms to do the job.

It is expensive and many publishers have decided to cut back on their qualification process. Many have dropped their BPA audits even though the cost of the actual audits is modest – it's the cost of qualifying readers that is the major expense.

B2B's need qualified readers in order to attract advertising. If a trade magazine has 70,000 readers they can then price their ads at a certain level and tell prospective advertisers that they will be reaching a desired audience. If the competition has less readers then chances are they will the first buy. If more, than the battle is over which magazine has more readers that are relevant to the advertiser, who has more qualified readers. If the B2B comes up short, they often receive a smaller ad schedule, if any schedule at all.

But the tablet platform doesn't fit well into this world of publishing. It too much resembles the consumer world.

Visit any physical newsstand with a good amount of magazines available. How many of these titles are B2B magazines? Generally few or none. The reason is that the newsstand model is too random. What are the chances that the owner of a pizza shop will stop by the newsstand and see Pizza Today? Slim. It is better if the publisher already knows who they want to read the magazine and sends the title directly to the desired reader.

Whittier Daily News gets its first tablet edition as Digital First Media rushes out similar apps across its titles

There are many reasons, I suppose, why media observers like to compare the newspaper industry to the Titanic. The image of "rearranging the chairs on the deck of the Titanic" is pretty apt when you see the moves many newspaper executives make.

For me, it's the image of the giant ship slowly but surely making its way towards that iceberg. You can see it, they can see it, but sounding the alarm can't seem to make the ship change course.

In the case of Digital First Media, what is added to the scene are the media consultants, a group of high profile media gurus who are so sure that building newsroom cafés and reshuffling the reporting staffs (while eliminating many of the actual positions) is somehow a creative solution to declining revenues and reader migration to digital platforms. The irony has always been that Digital First is easily the most digitally backward of the newspaper media properties out there.

Recently the company decided to move all of their newspaper properties onto the same tablet publishing solution. The move is similar to what one hears about AOL's Patch: a top down approach that makes all the properties look and act in a similar fashion at a time when experimentation across the portfolio is most needed.

In this case, the Digital First properties are adopting the same iPad strategy: an outsourced app that has no revenue model and that is simply a reformatted version of the newspaper's outdated looking websites.
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The apps, built by Spreed, mimic the Flipboard look, the very fashion forward way to arrange boxes on a tablet display.

The latest of these Spreed-built iPad apps was released late yesterday for the Whittier Daily News. As someone who used to live in Southern California, Whittier is famous for 1987 earthquake that was centered there.

This app won't shake up the publishing world. In fact, it is doubtful that many will even notice its release. But by releasing iPad apps for all of its newspaper properties quickly, and in such a casual and meaningless way, it may be that Digital First Media is attempting to positions their properties better for  sale. After all, it looks nice in a black book to be able to report that the properties being offered now all have recently released iPad editions, even if those iPad editions look like this (above-left).

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Magazine Group releases its first iPad edition under its own developer account for Associations Now Magazine

If you want to stay in the custom publishing business you better be able to do what the client wants – and what the client wants today is to be able to reach readers no matter what the platform, whether that is print, web or tablets. Because of this, the Washington DC-based custom publishing firm The Magazine Group is moving ahead with creating tablet editions for its magazine clients.
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Today the company launched the first tablet magazine to appear in Apple's Newsstand under its own developer account, listed as TMG Custom Media. The digital edition is for Associations Now Magazine, the magazine from the ASAE, The Center for Association Leadership. The association represents those who manage trade associations in the U.S. and worldwide.

"We're doing a print magazine for them, we're doing a responsive design website, a daily e-newsletter, and the app," Scott Bolgiano, the TMG's driving force behind the new iPad edition, told TNM this afternoon.

Bolgiano's LinkedIn page lists his position as Prepress Manager at TMG, but obviously that role is changing. Inside the newly launched iPad app he is listed credited with App Design & Production.

The first tablet edition of the print magazine uses a hybrid approach where the print ads are pretty much seen as they appeared in print, though with links, while the editorial pages are reformatted for the tablet.
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"We used Mag+," Bolgiano said. "This is actually the newest version of the software that came out the week before last, version 4.0., where they changed up quite a bit of it. And that all came out right when we were about to launch."

The September-October of the magazine available inside the app weighs in at 193.1 MB, a manageable size made modest by the fact that digital edition is meant to be read in portrait only and there is not any additional interactive content beyond links, scrolling text boxes and the like.

This was not the first iPad app built by The Magazine Group. The custom publisher also has released other apps that have appeared under their client's own Apple developer accounts, including one for Web MD.

The app and its content is free of charge to access, as is the app edition for Web MD. The decision of whether to charge or require a log-in is a difficult one for magazines that employ a qualified subscription method in print. So far at least, Apple and publishers have not yet come up with a solution for digital magazines that mimics print.

The Magazine Group now has the ability to create tablet editions for its clients and this new app for Associations Now will no doubt convince other potential clients that the custom publisher will be able to serve their needs.

Engadget's Distro, being a weekly, takes a different approach than TNW when creating its tablet magazine

With several thousand posts on TNM it is worth repeating one's self occasionally. So when TNM looked the newly updated app from The Next Web earlier today it is worth examining once again how another web property is handling its own digital tablet magazine.

Engadget, the AOL tech property also has its own digital magazine inside the Apple Newsstand. Engadget Distro, though, is a weekly publication, unlike TNW Magazine. Because of this the development team at AOL Mobile has taken a simpler approach to designing a tablet magazine.

The digital magazines found inside the app could almost be mistaken for a replica edition as the pages are static. No scrolling text boxes or other features of native tablet editions are in this weekly magazine. But the digital pages are, of course, designed specifically for the iPad's display, so the reading experience is natural and pleasant. The page layouts are attractive, no doubt the work of the art director at AOL Mobile, Greg Grabowy, and his team of designers, Eve Binder, Susana Soares and Troy Dunham.

The basic principals of tablet magazine navigation are used for Distro: scrolling to reach the second or third page of a story, swiping to reach the next story. Layouts are repeated to ease production and to create a uniform look (as you would in a print magazine, especially a weekly).
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But one can't get over just how low tech this digital magazine is. This approach would be great for magazine like Construction Equipment or Material Handling & Logistics magazines, but for a tech website this doesn't seem appropriate.

I would also question the idea of a weekly magazine for a website. But if the editorial team can handle the schedule, then more power to them – I certainly hope they got raises.

Both digital magazines, TNW Magazine and Engadget Distro are good examples of how a media property using one format, in this case the web, can branch out and create a native digital magazine for tablets. As more and more newspaper look to create their own tablet magazines for local sports and other topics, watching what some of the digital media properties are doing seems like a good idea.


Distimo finds that translating apps into native languages has only a small impact on downloads, though Japan shows largest improvement in downloads

Although this story has already appeared elsewhere on the web I thought it important enough to share...

Distimo, an app store analytics company headquartered in The Netherlands has released a study that looks at the effect of creating apps in native languages – as opposed to simply launching them in one such as English.

What the company found was that the impact of translating your apps into different languages may be minimal, though there are exceptions.
The introduction of the native languages has had a very small impact on download volumes or revenue on the iPad. These applications saw no significant growth in downloads during one week after the introduction. Furthermore, the native language boosted revenue with only five percent in this period for iPad applications. Here, Japan showed the largest improvement in downloads and applications in the French Apple App Store for iPad gained the most revenue after adding the home languages.
According to Distimo, apps were able to increase downloads by 128 percent during the week following the launch of a new app in a native language, but revenue increased only 26 percent. However, consumers in China, Japan and South Korea responded more enthusiastically to apps translated into their native languages.
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Of course, the study looked at apps, in general. Publishers would know that their digital publications are less likely reach an international audience if not in the language of the local country. English performs best worldwide for publishers, as it does all app makers, but publications that can offer built-in translations are kind of the holy grail for international publishers.

The study can be downloaded on the Distimo website, or a PDF can be downloaded here, as well.)

The NYT is the latest to experiment with a web app, as the company may be looking to keep a greater share of its digital subscription revenue

Whether the latest move by the New York Times towards an HTML5 web app is a shot across the bow of Apple, or a real strategic move away from native apps, we'll have to see over time. But today's launch of Web App for iPad will certainly get the attention of many in the newspaper industry.
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The web app requires iPad owners to have a digital subscription to the tablet edition of the NYT. A similar web app exists already for the Chrome browser.

For me the approach is a bit weird. After all, since the web app is browser based, one would think a reader could access the app via their web subscription. The Chrome web app, unlike the iPad web app, appears to be tied to one's web subscription. Like many print publishers, the NYT seems to be confusing the device for the product.

"Our subscribers have told us they are interested in trying new ways of reading The Times across a variety of platforms,” Denise Warren, senior vice president and chief advertising officer, said in the company's announcement this morning. "We are working constantly to develop new products that distribute our content in innovative ways, and this Web-based app is just one example of that."

The NYT is in a good position to make a break from Apple work. The reason, which I voiced here many times is that there are two kinds of publications that can succeed at paywalls (and by extension web apps): financial publications such as the WSJ and Financial Times, and national newspapers that are considered essential reading, such as the NYT.

Many media analysts have assumed that the success the Financial Times has experienced can be easily reproduced. I believe it can't, in that the FT is in a unique situation being a financial newspaper. Likewise, the NYT, if it wanted to, could make a break from the Apple App Store and go it alone. I think it would be terrible idea as it would put them on the outside, but the lure of taking a greater share of their digital subscription revenues may be too great.

For now, however, the NYT is taking a cautious approach. Readers who want to access the web app must be current subscribers to the NYT's iPad edition, so Apple has little to complain about.



I've always thought that the NYT's iPad edition was a mistake because it is based on the website rather than creating something more like print. A move to a web app, with a paid model, could open up the Times to creating a new tablet edition that would be more like the reading experience of print, but also more interactive.

The current NYT pay model makes readers choose between a subscription to the smartphone (with web access) and the tablet (with web access). I would assume few choose to subscribe to both.

To lure readers into buying the whole enchilada, the NYT would need to differentiate their products more – not just by design, but by content, as well. One way to do this is to make their tablet edition more of a leisure time read, concentrating on breaking news on their website, mobile phone and web app products.

The Next Web updates its digital magazine app, making TNW Magazine universal by adding iPhone support

The technology website The Next Web (TNW) updated its digital magazine, which previously was designed specifically for the iPad. Now TNW Magazine is a universal app that can now be used on the iPhone, and though they fail to mention it in the app description, the iPod touch, as well.

TNW Magazine is very good example of a web property launching a digital magazine using original content. This particular digital-only magazine uses the Mag+ platform to create its issues and the vendor has a blog post about the addition of iPhone support that features an interview with Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten, the founder and editor-in-chief of TNW. It reads a bit too much like PR and features a rather poor video, so I've decided to include my own walk-through the digital magazine as it appears on the iPhone 5 below.

The two versions of the digital magazine, iPhone and iPad, look very much the same, though they are not identical. The larger display of the iPad allows for somewhat more intricate layouts, while the iPhone demands simple scrolling pages.
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The latest issue produced by TNW is the only one available for the iPhone while TNW is already on issue number 9 on the iPad (my how time flies).

The iPhone version of the latest issue, titled DISCONNECTED, weighs in at 108.7 MB. It appears to have been designed for the iPhone 4 or earlier because of page sizes, though the navigation tools appear at the very top and bottom of the iPhone 5's screen.

By comparison, the iPad version of the digital issue weighs in at 201.9 MB on the new iPad. But version can be read in portrait and landscape, but the layouts are the same. On the iPad this really does give the reader an option to turn their tablet to the most comfortable orientation because the digital magazine has been designed for the device – meaning the fonts are sized appropriately as opposed to a replica edition where the fonts are sized for print.

On the iPhone, while both orientations are available, the logical way to read the magazine is in portrait.

TNW Magazine remains free to download and access, though the app does have a voluntary payment and subscription option in order to generate revenue from very generous readers.



A video is available on the Mag+ website of the newly updated TNW Magazine app, but I think this is a better walk-through as it isn't shot from outside the app:

Monday, October 1, 2012

Advance Publications releases three branded apps for its newspapers in Alabama, all replicating the app for AL.com

On Sunday, the Times-Picayune published its last "daily" newspaper. From today forward, the Advance Publications newspaper will be appearing in print only three days a week.

But while the fate of the New Orleans newspaper reading community has gotten lots of attention, the fact is that Advance is implementing the same three day a week printing schedule at other papers owned by the chain, including its Alabama group.
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Late last week the chain released three new iPad apps for its newspapers in Birmingham, Mobile and Huntsville. The paper already operates a single website under the AL.com URL, and earlier the chain released an iPad app called AL.com for iPad.

But you can see the wheels churning in the heads of the old media titans: how does an app for AL.com help the three local newspapers?

It doesn't, so today the same app has been re-released three more times under the names of the local papers: AL.com: Birmingham for iPad, AL.com: Mobile for iPad, AL.com: Huntsville for iPad.

All the apps that use the content from AL.com are universal (meaning they will work on the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad).

The new apps, like the old one which is still available in the App Store, follows the same model. Each app mirrors the content of the AL.com website and really serves no purpose other than to reach those readers who feel like they would prefer an app to the browser on the iPad.

If you look really hard you can see that the content is slightly different in each app, but barely.
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Since the AL.com website renders just fine on the iPad's Safari browser (see right) it is hard to see what the advantage of these apps might be. None of the apps require a subscription, and the advertising is pretty limited (though it does exist).

It looks like the digital team over at Advance hasn't been keeping up with the research coming out of sources such as the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence. If they had they might have concluded that an app such as this is really a waste of valuable time and resources.

Update: the original AL.com app was updated, as well. The early reviews by users are not good. "This is perhaps he (sic) worst news app for iPad in existence," writes one user. "Crashes every time I open it," writes another.

Update: Orange Coast gets the replica edition treatment from its publisher, Emmis Communications

This is an update of the story that appeared last week on the release of five new tablet editions by Emmis Communications for its city/regional magazines. Today the company, as predicted, released a first tablet edition for Orange Coast.

Like the other five magazine apps, Orange Coast Magazine is a plain vanilla replica edition, even retaining the left-right page folios of the print magazine.

Monthly subscriptions are available for $1.99, annual subscriptions are $14.99. Individual issues are available at $4.99. And like the other Emmis app editions, print subscribers will have to make a choice between print and digital because they will have to pay again if they want access to the issues inside the app.

They should do themselves a favor and stick to the print editions – they are easier to read than these replicas.

Also like the other Emmis apps, a free issue (September) is available to preview, while the October issue requires a purchase of some kind.

Pew study on news habits of mobile readers show the growth of a multi-platform news consumer; lower priced tablets lure new readers to platform

Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism (PEJ) has released a new study that looks at the reading habits of mobile and tablet news consumers. The study involved 9,513 adults – of those adults, 2,013 owned a tablet (21.2 percent) and 3,947 owned a smartphone (41.5 percent).*

The PEJ study shows a huge increase in the market share of Android tablets, including the Kindle Fire, but also found that iPad owners are still using their tablets for more things than Android owners, while Android tablets are found to be used more for using social networks and to follow the news.

The authors of the new study claim that two types of news consumers are emerging on tablets:
Nearly a fifth of mobile news users, 19%, have paid for a digital news subscription of some kind in the last year, and a third of tablet news users with digital subscriptions have added new subscriptions since they acquired the device. But even more mobile news users, 31%, have print-only subscriptions, and three quarters of these have no plans to give them up. These print subscribers also prefer their app-based news to be more like a traditional reading experience rather than to have high-tech features. For the news organizations, this brings both the potential for new audiences as well as the challenge of accommodating the differing styles and approaches of these distinct audiences.
Already some media observers are interpreting the study to say that tablet owners are choosing the browser on tablets over native apps.

"More and more, tablet computer users are choosing browsers over apps for their digital news delivery, says Pew’s report," according to Jeff Bercovici of Forbes.

The problem with this interpretation is that it fails to account for the growth of tablets overall, and repeats the often mistaken view that apps were ever seen as preferable to browsers (accept by some media observers).
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The fact is that the web has been the preferred way most consumers get the news for a while, and that tablet apps, especially because they often mimic print, have been seen by readers as more a leisure-time reading activity. In other words, if the browser on a computer is preferred to all other platforms, why would this be different on a tablet or smartphone?

The problem may lie in the fact that many media observers throw all news products into the same bin, rather than breaking out daily news from analytical news – in other words, the news found on most newspaper web home pages from that found in a news magazine. Studies have consistently found that breaking news is a web product while eReaders and print are preferred for longer form content.

The PEJ study has encouraging news for publishers concerning digital subscribers: the study found that 33 percent of digital news subscribers were new since getting a tablet, while 27 percent were replacing print. Even those who are replacing print with digital may be good for publishers because of production cost considerations.

News consumption, according to the study, ranks number two behind email as the most common activity of tablet owners, while it ranks behind both email and social networking on smartphones. 64 percent of those surveyed, who own a tablet, said they consumer news on their tablets, but only 37 percent said they did so on a daily basis. This leads me to conclude that many tablet owners are still using their tablets mostly during off hours. I would be curious to know if there is a difference, as I'd suspect, between iPad owners and Android owners here. After all, if many Android tablet owners are replacing their older eReaders with tablets, they would be prone to using their tablets for media consumption less often than iPad owners.
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I think it continues to be important to not lump all smartphone and all tablet owners into the same basket. Many consumers are replacing their feature cell phones with smartphones while continuing to use those devices as they had previously. For these consumers, the ability to consumer news, read periodicals remains a very minor activity. The same may hold true for many of the new tablet owners who are replacing their eBook reading devices for tablets that offer more features.

Because of this, publishers not only need to have a multiplatform digital strategy, but one that accounts for different reading patterns, as well.

* Comscore recently reported that it found that smartphone penetration in the U.S. had reached 47 percent, so this Pew study is showing lower numbers than previous studies.

The Austrian daily newspaper Der Standard launches its first tablet edition that is 'almost as good as paper'

I think it is fair to say that there appears to be two kinds of newspaper publishers launching tablet editions today: those that believe that the role of the tablet is to reproduce the experience of print, and those that believe the tablet experience is somehow a different reading experience.

Those that produce natively designed tablet editions obviously fall into the latter category. But those that are launching replica editions don't automatically believe print is superior - for them, the choice of launching a "page flipper" often comes down to ease of publishing and the lower cost of production.
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But some publishers actually seem to believe that print is still king and want their tablet editions to be as close to print as is possible.

The publisher of Der Standard, the Vienna, Austria daily newspaper, probably fall into the pro-print camp. Their new tablet edition, Der Standard, launched this morning into the App Store and into the Apple Newsstand, proudly proclaims their app to be "Fast so gut wie Papier." Almost as good as paper.

Many would say this is setting the bar pretty low.

The app succeeds in duplicating print, though without the ink rubbing off on your hands, and greatly reduced in size.

The paper's e-edition duplicates the paper exactly through PDFs that weigh in anywhere between 10 and 30 MB, depending on the size of the paper. The app description talks about added content such as video, though the issue I saw did not contain any added material.

The app assists reading by having text version of the story available when the reader taps a story. Otherwise, the reader sees the newspaper exactly as it would appear in print, though reduced in size to fit the tablet's display.

I would think that while Apple would prefer that all publisher develop native solutions for their tablet editions, that the company understands the urge to reproduce print digitally. Skeuomorphism is the term many use to describe this way of designing and you can see it in many Apple apps such as Calendar or Contacts. There, the screen is designed to look like a physical printed calendar. Steve Jobs is said to love this way of designing products.

The problem with producing print is that the metaphor begins to break down when the reader is more used to digital than print. That is to say, as soon as the reader has little or no experience with a print newspaper than the idea of a reproduced print page makes little sense to them. Why is everything so small and hard to read, they may well think.

My own position is that since every platform is different, converting one platform's design to another is not the way to go. But for those that can't conceive of the newspaper looking any different than it does in print, these PDF driven newspaper apps are the cat's meow.
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Apple releases update for Verizon iPhone 5 users that fixes cellualr data usage issues, leaves same problem on AT&T unaddressed

Users of the iPhone 5 have discovered enough problems with their new handsets to wonder what they ever saw in the iPhone to begin with. From maps that can't figure out Central America from South Carolina to data leaks that burn up a users data limits within the first week of use.

While a solution to Apple's Maps problem won't come for quite a long time, possibly years, today the company tried to solve the data issue. The problem, though, is that the solution will only help Verizon users.

The data issue is this: the iPhone 5 will use cellular data to get email and other activities even when connected to a WiFi network.

While the issue has gotten attention concerning this behavior on the Verizon network, for some reason very little attention seems to have been paid to the fact that the same thing happens on the AT&T network.

I discovered this issue myself while sending out a text message that contained a picture. The text didn't seem to want to go through despite having a strong WiFi signal. Several attempts failed until I decided to see if it would go through with cell data turned off. That did the trick.

A few minutes later I discovered that in the first week of use I had already burned through more than half my data limit despite not using cellular data for anything other than getting email while away from a WiFi signal.

Verizon users have lucked out, however. They have been issued an update to address the problem. iPhone 5 users who are on the Verizon network need to go into Settings, then General, and then finally About. A message will appear telling the user to wait for an install. Then the user must restart their device.

It is possible that the issue on AT&T is not with the use of cellular data so much as a WiFi issue. If the WiFi signal drops cellular data will take over. All this is done automatically so the user doesn't know they are using data.