Friday, October 19, 2012

The Chicago Tribune sends out email promotion for its new metered paywall, spells out in further detail what subscribers will get for their new digital subscription

My two biggest criticisms of the new way the Chicago Tribune announced to readers its new metered paywall were that it appeared to insult their own readers, and it did not attempt to sell the paywall by telling readers what would be in it for them.

This afternoon the paper sent out an email promotion to its current subscribers who are not buying the seven day a week print edition.

"As a valued print subscriber, we want you to be among the first to know about the exciting enhancements coming to chicagotribune.com," the promotion reads.

For $.49 per week, the offer continues on will get the following:
  • Full and unlimited access...
    to chicagotribune.com including exclusive Tribune storytelling and insider sports coverage
  • Premium Content...
    from trusted sources like Forbes, The Economist, Variety and others
  • Unlimited Tribune e-book downloads
  • Digital replica of the daily newspaper
  • Free access to Tribune apps
  • And more...
This is pretty good, certainly a move in the right direction.

The Trib's new metered paywall allows readers to access content on the paper's website, but upon reading five "premium" online stories kicks in. The big variable is what the paper decides to label "premium". The promotion piece, and its previous online story about the new paywall, emphasizes content coming from other sources such as The Economist, though investigative stories were mentioned, as well, in the original online announcement.

Retweet: French newspapers, too, want to be paid; Google tells them to beat it, the French up the ante

Below this post you'll find a post about efforts from the association representing newspapers in Brazil to try and get Google to pay them for access to their headlines. Google did not respond.

Ars Technica this afternoon posted a story about similar efforts on the part of the French. A proposed new law would require Google to share some of the revenue it generates through news search results.

Google, in this case, has responded to the French proposal. You can pretty imagine what their response would be.

According to France24, Google has threatened to stop linking to French media sites. In response the new French government has said Google should not "threaten democratic governments."

The French have shot back and said that such a move to remove French media links would require the government to ban Google from referencing French sites, in general.

And to think, the French have the bomb. Let's hope they don't plan on negotiating this way with other countries.

In any case, it's all sounds like a lot of bluster to me. Google has no intention of sharing revenue with newspapers, and the French government's balance sheet looks much weaker than Google's, so their leverage is not very great. Of course, the French could up the ante and start talking about nationalizing Google in France, but I wouldn't count on it. But if they do, pass the popcorn, this could be entertaining.

Newspapers in Brazil want Google to pay them for the right to list their headlines; Google refuses, so association recommends members opt out of search results

There is a scene in Ken Burn's documentary The Civil War when the author Shelby Foote recounts a battle scene. A general has just foolishly led his troops into a bad position and another general, seeing the folly, says "watch, he'll come falling back" (or something to that effect).

That scene came to mind when I read of the recommendation by the National Association of Newspapers in Brazil to have its members pull out of Google – withdrawing their headlines from the search engine over their demand that Google pay the newspapers for the right to their content. They will see their folly and come falling back, too.

The newspapers believe, rightly, that Google is competition. Newspapers see the giant search engine as profiting from their work.

“Google News benefits commercially from that quality content and is unwilling to discuss a remuneration model for the production of these materials,” said ANJ president Carlos Fernando Lindenberg Neto told the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas in justifying the recommendation.

Yes, that is true. But believing that Google will pay newspapers for the privilege of including their material in its search results is truly naive. Their argument is that displaying their headlines in search results "reduces the chances that they will look at the entire story in our web sites.”

Google has wisely decided to not respond to the story that the papers will boycott their services. Let them, there are plenty of other sources of news so we can expect the papers to fall back once the artillery barrage begins.

If newspapers wanted to demand compensation from Google the time to do so would have been when the search engine started up. But newspapers were thrilled to see their content displayed in the upstart's results.

Last year's revenue at Google was $73.9 billion, with margins exceed 25 percent. When the print media business starts producing results like that then Google will listen. Until then all they will hear is silence.



This is how The Telegraph described a recent move by Rupert Murdoch concerning withdrawing headlines from Google:
Rupert Murdoch has been forced to back down in his war with Google, amid fears that his newspapers are losing their influence because they do not appear in the search engine’s rankings.
'Nuff said.

A personal story: Black Monday, the day one daily newspaper editor got their first lesson in New Media

Today is the 25th anniversary of Black Monday, the day the stock market crashed, with the Dow fell over 500 points. For many investors, Black Monday was their first experience with an actual stock panic.

But, for me, that day taught me a lot about news editors – at least as they worked then – and why newsrooms need to change in a dramatic way.

On October 19, 1987 I was working at the Copley newspaper in Santa Monica, California. The Santa Monica Evening Outlook, as it was known then, was one of those rare bird, an afternoon paper in an era of morning deliver. Soon Copley would change delivery to mornings and the paper would be called simply the Outlook.

If you don't recall those days in 1987, let me briefly set the scene: Ronald Reagan had been reelected in 1984 thanks to a recovering economy. The economy continued to recover, though by 1986 things were slowing down – a "soft landing" as economists like to say. But the stock market was booming and, of course, a correction was due.
Photobucket
On August 25, 1987, the market hit an all-time high. But on October 14, the Dow dropped 95.46 points, at that time the biggest drop ever, in terms of points. That Friday the Down fell again. Traders entered the new week leery.

California is, of course, on Pacific time. So by the time I arrived at work at the Evening Outlook that morning the stock market had already opened. Asian markets were down big, partly due to news that the U.S. had bombed some Iranian oil platforms int he Persian Gulf as retaliation for a previous missile attack on a U.S. flagged ship – some things never change, I guess.

Before leaving my car I got an update on the market, things look bleak, with stocks down sharply. But sharply, in those days, meant 10, 20, 30 points. No one was prepared for what would follow.

I entered the newspaper where I was classified sales manager and immediately walked across the floor of the newspaper to the editor's office. The editor was in an informal meeting and noticed me, assuming I would simply say hello. Us ad types simply didn't talk too much to the editors. But this morning I said something, that at first probably sound cryptic: "you're in for a big news day today, I see. Have you been checking the markets?" I left without waiting for a response.

But I am absolutely sure I know what his response was because I later asked some of the news staff: he turned to the reporter in his office and said "what the hell was that about" and returned to his conversation.

Lufthansa, United Airlines update their mobile iOS apps to add support for Passbook, fix features related to iOS 6

Some new mobile features from Apple, Google or whoever, are implemented at launch. Apps like the new Panorama camera feature inside iOS 6, for instance, work the minute the user updates their iPhone or iPod touch. (Unfortunately, this was true of the new Maps, as well.)

But some need developers to come on board. Passbook is like this. For days and weeks following the launch of iOS 6 Passbook sat on many iPhone owners devices empty and useless. Slowing, though, developers have started to roll out updates to their mobile apps that incorporate the e-commerce system.

This morning, both Lufthansa and United Airlines have issued updates to their mobile iOS apps that add in Passbook.
Photobucket
Lufthansa's update, in addition to adding in Passbook support, also fixes a bug that effected push notifications – in fact, they could not be activated in the last update, apparently. Travelers use these notifications, of course, to be informed of important flight information like delays, gate changes, etc.

The app also includes a push notification for travel deals, though this feature only works for residents of Germany.

United Airlines has also updated its mobile iOS app to add in Passbook support. The update also mentions support for the new iPhone 5's larger display. As a result, and as you can see here at left, the screenshots inside the app description have been changed to reflect the taller screen.

The United app update also makes sure the app is working properly with Calendar - again an important feature for travelers.

One last thing is mentioned in the United app that, while obvious, I bet a lot of travelers miss. To make Passbook work, the traveler must check-in using the mobile app. The app will then ask the traveler if they want to add their boarding pass directly to Passbook. It may seem obvious, but I bet more than a few travelers will think thee things will work on their own.

Flunking Marketing 101: how newspapers blow the launch of their metered paywalls by emphasizing what is lost

If newspaper executives were students, most would probably be held back a year for failing Marketing 101. Determined to launch paywalls to gain digital subscription revenue, most newspapers go about the launch in typical newspaper fashion – without any marketing savvy whatsoever.

Many, like The Globe and Mail, vaguely promise better journalism, though without any details. Others, like The Chicago Tribune, simply say that it is about time they started charging, and besides, you bums, you've been getting something for nothing, so pay up.

If there is on class newspaper executives will get an "A" in, it's in Insulting the Customer.



Today's announcement by The Tribune followed all the now clichéd ways a paper announces its new paywall. The report mentioned the New York Times, of course. But it also mentioned other area newspapers, as well. If they are doing it, we'll do it. As if leadership in news is, in fact, following others.

So how should a newspaper announce a paywall?

Well, forget about trying to convince readers that they have been freeloaders and now it is time to pay up. It is pretty self evident that this is not a great strategy (who the hell edited that Trib story?).

Newspapers have every right to charge for their content. Instead of sheepishly insulting their current readers, they need to do the one thing they have not been good at for a while: selling.
At no place in the company's announcement did the story mention any new benefits that a paid subscriber would have. The Trib is taking, but it isn't giving.

Giving the reader things is easy. The Trib, for instance, recently launched a new tablet magazine for their Bears coverage. The digital magazine requires a paid subscription – include it in their digital subscription package.

The Trib also has a digital magazine for the Bulls, but that one is free. Oops, caught not planning ahead. This should have had a price tag on it if launching a paywall was in the works.

Many newspapers announce paywalls and promise vague additions sometime down the road. Today would have been a good time to launch a new mobile or tablet app, new websites, blogs and other digital products – things that will show the customer that paying for a subscription has real and new benefits.



The Tribune has been declining in importance in the Chicago area for a while. Like many other regional newspapers, it is seen as less necessary for local readers who can get news and advertising online and through local products.

The Tribune, which politically has been Arizona Red for decades, is in a very Blue city, in a somewhat Blue state. It is, almost by definition, out of step with its surroundings. But in the past this didin't matter, newspapers dominated in ways they simply can't today.

But the Trib, as the publisher, not the paper, can still build and launch products that readers will want. Give them more of this. Then sell them on the idea that their paid subscription has real value, that it isn't simply the attempts of some corporate suit to raise revenue and reverse a previous bad decision (of launching their website free).

Newspapers are products just like laundry detergent: they, too need to be sold, to be differentiated from the competition. Many brands hide price increases by slightly increasing the size of their box and contents – you may be getting more, but you're paying for it, too.

But at least there is an effort to deliver more. The Globe and Mail and the Tribune are taking away content for their readers and failing to deliver more. It's bad marketing.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Chicago Tribune sets access to their website at $14.99 per month; metered paywall reached at five 'premium' stories per month

The egos at the Tribune Company appear to be a bit out of control. Today the paper announced that it would be charging $14.99 per month for access to "premium" content on the newspaper's website, about the same rate as the New York Times. The metered paywall goes up November 1.

Once again, in an announcement for the new paywall, the company referenced other newspapers (specifically, the NYT) in its announcement. "The free ride is over for online users of the Chicago Tribune," read the paper's own report. (Nice, its readers are considered freeloaders.)

Print subscribers will continue to be access the website for free, but those receiving the paper less than seven days a week will have to pay $2 more per month for digital access.

"After launching the new chicagotribune.com in June, we spent the ensuing weeks studying the digital habits of our consumers through their free online registration and direct feedback," Bill Adee, vice president for digital development and operations at the Chicago Tribune, said a memo announcing the paywall. "Based on that data, along with price testing, we have put together what we call the digitalPLUS package."

This paywall, unlike most others, will nto be very porous unless editors limit the number of stories consider "premium": users will run up against the paywall after only clicking on five premium stories per month.

It's the end of the line for Newsweek's print edition

She finally killed it off. Tina Brown, who in recent weeks has published diatribes from Niall Ferguson to 'Muslim Rage' in an effort to boost newsstand sales, said this morning that she is killing off the print edition of Newsweek come the end of the year. Why Brown thinks readers would want her version of a news magazine in any form is a bit hard to understand, but rumors of the demise of the print edition have been circulating for a while.

The way this is all going down, one might think that Brown intentionally soiled the Newsweek brand so that shutting down the print edition would go down easier. But Brown promises (threatens?) to expand the news weekly's tablet and online editions.

"Newsweek Global, as the all-digital publication will be named, will be a single, worldwide edition targeted for a highly mobile, opinion-leading audience who want to learn about world events in a sophisticated context," Brown wrote this morning. "Newsweek Global will be supported by paid subscription and will be available through e-readers for both tablet and the Web, with select content available on The Daily Beast."

Brown explains the decision to shutter the print edition by blaming the ad environment, and the desire to get on the tablet bandwagon. The problem with this line of thinking, however, is that if the editors of Newsweek are turning off readers in print, the same content shouldn't, in theory, be any more popular in digital form.

"We are transitioning Newsweek, not saying goodbye to it," Brown writes. "We remain committed to Newsweek and to the journalism that it represents. This decision is not about the quality of the brand or the journalism—that is as powerful as ever. It is about the challenging economics of print publishing and distribution."

Great, more Niall Ferguson, I can't wait.



The Washington Post Company, which for years published Newsweek, sold off the title to Sidney Harmon in mid-2010. The WaPo had previously sold off its other magazine titles, as well - the PostNewsweek Tech Media group - and as any magazine publishing executive will tell you, it is easier to maintain profits with a group of publications than with one stand-alone title.

The reality is probably that Newsweek really is dead now. What will exist will most likely be simply the digital edition of The Daily Beast, but under the Newsweek name.

Morning Brief: Hearst updates Esquire iPad edition, breaks app; Slingbox, the little device that could, but couldn't'; more thoughts on latest comScore research

Please stand by. I remember when that term was used all the time by television networks experiencing 'technical difficulties'. It's rare today. But that it basically what Hearst Communications is saying the app description for the updated app for Esquire – please stand by.

Actually, this is what their app description says this morning:
NOTICE: Please return to upgrade at a later time as we are currently experiencing some technical difficulties, and we want to make sure you have the best reading experience possible. We'll remove this notice as soon as we've resolved the issues. Thank you!
I don't know exactly what the bug is, but I know what it is doing: the new app update is crashing for users. Update the app and you break it.
Photobucket
Things like this are actually pretty rare in the App Store, Usually an app update that introduces a bug is quickly replaced with another.

But magazine and newspaper apps are used daily by thousands of users and the introduction of a bug in the app can quickly dampen a readers enthusiasm for the publication.

Esquire is a popular magazine so I suspect readers will hang in there. More troubling, however, is the Hearst digital team's continuing habit of writing nonsense, uninformative app descriptions. The "What's New" section never states what is actually new in a Hearst magazine app, but instead always leads with "Thanks to all of the xxx readers who have shared feedback..." – which I find highly annoying. (It is to be remembered that the Hearst apps are among the lowest rated in the App Store because of the company's policy of forcing print subscribers to buy another subscription to access the digital issues.)



Wired's website this morning has a review up on the new Slingbox. The review states that the new device is nice, but "it's still living in the past."

I used to wonder why the Slingbox wasn't a big hit. Other than its price, which is admittedly too high to attract a lot of consumers, the idea of being able to watch television anywhere seemed to have merit.

But as Rick Broida's review points out, most consumers aren't really interested in "slinging" live television so much as watching programs when they want, as well as where they want.

Without the element of time shifting built in the box loses a bit of value.

But the Slingbox will go down with the Commodore computer as an important early, if ultimately unsuccessful, streaming video product. Most cable and satellite providers are moving towards some sort of remote streaming solution, as are the networks themselves. The reason is that consumers don't want to be tied to the family room when watching content.



TNM must be the only website that did not look at the latest comScore tablet research and use the Kindle Fire as the lead.

Tech site after tech site is saying that the big news coming out of the research is that Kindle Fire owners are more likely to read newspapers and magazines on their tablets than are iPad owners.

While the research does claim this, the fact is that the numbers are pretty much the same across the board, and as anyone who does surveying knows, margin of error is important.

But, to me, it would have been far bigger news if owners of the Kindle Fire were not reading periodicals at a higher rate. When you think Kindle what do you think? Gaming? Of course not, it's reading.

Since a large number of Kindle Fire owners are owners of previous Kindle models, one would assume that they would continue to use their new tablets for reading first, other activities second.

Had comScore's research included book reading, one would expect that again Kindle Fire owners would be using their tablets more than iPad owners to read books. Then it would be pretty clear to those tech writers who only look at the lede on the press release what was going on here.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Destination: Florida Keys uses MAZ Digital to launch digital-only magazine into the Apple Newsstand

There are not one, but several kinds of publishers who use DIY replica editions services: those publisher with print magazine who are eager to make their brands available on tablets, and those newbie publishers who see this solution as the quickest, easiest and cheapest way to produce a digital magazine.

The problem, though, is with the end result. Are all these magazines really 'digital magazines'? Or are they something else? If I scanned this month's copy of Wired, made a PDF, loaded it on my iPad, have I made a digital magazine?

Travel Savvy has launched a new app into the Apple Newsstand called Destination: Florida Keys. The publisher used MAZ Digital to makes its magazine, and those there is only minimal branding for the vendor here – a logo smartly placed on the Editor's Letter and staff box page – the app itself is sold in the App Store under the vendor's name, not publisher's.

The publisher's corporate name is 495 Communications and it is clear that the company has been searching for digital publishing vendor because in its own press release back in February of 2010 (just after the iPad introduction event, but two months before its actual launch) it said it had chose Nxtbook Media as its technology partner. Nxtbook is known for its flipbook products, so that gives you an idea of what they were thinking.

I personally wouldn't call a flipbook a 'digital magazine', it is a digital reproduction of a magazine, and that is what you will get here. It is an understandable solution, just not one that I find attractive, or what I see the future of magazines on tablets as.

Here is a brief walk-through the new app. Pay attention to how the actual issue opens up. It is strange that it would open up so small, requiring the reader to tap the issue. It might confuse a few readers, thinking that it is actually designed to be read at that size.

comScore releases readership study that reinforces notion that tablet owners are reading newspapers and magazine on their devices, though less than a majority are doing so

A new study released today by comScore shows that 37.1 percent of tablet owners are reading newspapers on their tablets at least once a month, while 39.6 percent are reading magazines.

Kindle Fire owners are slightly more likely to be reading periodicals on the their tablets – 39.2 read newspapers, 43.9 percent are reading magazines – that iPad owners. But this should not be a surprise as the Kindle Fire is the tablet sister of the Kindle eBook reader and many owners of older Kindles have migrated to the Kindle Fire. In any case, the two rates are close, with 38.2 percent of iPad owners reading a newspaper at least once during the month, and 40.3 percent reading a magazine.

"Tablets are fundamentally redefining how people consume news and information, with the format more conducive to reading longer form content than PCs or smartphones," Mark Donovan, comScore SVP of Mobile, said in the companies own announcement of the study.

"In the case of online newspapers, tablets are now driving 7 percent of total page views, an impressive figure considering the relative infancy of the tablet space. Publishers that understand how these devices are shifting consumption dynamics will be best positioned to leverage this platform to not only drive incremental engagement among current subscribers but also attract new readers," Donovan said.

The bar is set pretty low here, however. A skeptic could say that less than half of tablet owners are using their devices for newspaper and magazine reading. The study, though, is of tablet owners 13 years or older, not exactly the target audience of most publishers.
Photobucket
Daily use of the tablet to read across the survey was around 12 percent with no real difference reported between tablets – iPad, Android, Kindle Fire and NOOK.

NOOK owners appear to use their tablets slightly more for reading periodicals, but again, this may be a reflection of the nature of the device – a tablet marketed as a reading device as opposed to an all purpose tablet like the iPad.

For those interested in promoting advertising inside tablet magazines, the study has some good news. The sweet spot for tablet reading appears to be the 25-34 age group, when it comes to newspaper and magazine reading. But the study does not break out whether this group is using their devices more for this activity – that is, what is the frequency of reading versus others.

Continuing studies need to look also at the nature of the publications being read. One can assume, one would think, that more replica editions are being read on tablets other than the iPad due to the number of replicas available. While iPad owners are more likely to have native tablet editions available to them, will studies find that these are preferred and read more frequently than replicas?

Additionally, how does one define a newspaper on a tablet? Is the New York Times for iPad a newspaper? Its content derives from the paper's website, after all. While other newspaper apps mimic the look and feel of the print edition.

Newsrooms heat up in countries where 'new austerity measures' is the number one news item

Tomorrow will be a day without print newspapers in Greece as journalists throughout the country protest continued austerity measures.

A 24-hour walkout of newsrooms has meant that TV and radio news programs are missing today, and papers that would be produced today for publication tomorrow can not be created.

Obviously the news blackout is not complete, otherwise how would be hear about it. ekathimerini.com, for instance, today has a news item on its website about the news blackout.

Journalists are not the only professionals protesting austerity measures, ferry operators and other public transportation authorities are also seeing work stoppages.

The issue, of course, is the continued austerity measures being implemented by the Greek government of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, the leader of New Democracy, the center-right party in control of the government.

The international community is demanding future austerity measures to reduce the deficit, despite the fact that austerity is suppressing consumer spending and leading to a deepening recession. Last week the government reported that unemployment in July had risen to 25.1 percent, up from 24.8 percent in June. As you can see, the unemployment numbers are released a bit later than in the U.S., who knows what the number is for September as we will have to wait two more months to find out.

The employment situation is not much better in Spain. In fact, the latest report also puts unemployment there at 25.1 percent. The financial crisis has different origins than the situation in Greece: the national debt was nonexistent prior to the financial crisis, though exploding now, fueled by the high cost of government burrowing. But the cure, as it is being pushed by both the international community and the government is the same: austerity.

Newsroom unrest is also hitting Spanish media outlets. Roy Greenslade of The Guardian today is reporting that the journalists' union representing reporters at the daily newspaper El País is unhappy with recent layoffs at a time when the paper is reporting profits – though those profits have fallen off a cliff lately.

Journalists at the Spanish daily recent withdrew their bylines in protest of the layoffs which reduced staffing levels by one third.

The reductions in staff, and the poor economic conditions, in general, are leading many digital media professionals to seek emigration – despite the fact that few media companies worldwide are expanding their staffs.

Are there still smartphone and tablet newbies out there? You bet there are, and media app developers would be wise to take them into account

It is an open secret that the publisher of TNM (that would be me) would like to launch his own digital magazine company. A few million dollars would get it done if you have some spare change. In the meantime, I hope to launch a series of eBooks into the iBookstore, though I'm certainly taking my time about it.

But when dealing with writers one of the things that constantly amazes me is how few actually own a tablet. It shouldn't come as a surprise, the market penetration of tablets is only now just reaching half of the country.

Source: jobsformainstreet.com
Because of this, I have found myself on more than one occasion having to explain very simple concepts of the iPad – where are books found, what Settings are for, etc.

Even the basics of touch controls are sometimes something that has to be explained. If one sees a photograph on the screen of a tablet there is, of course, the possibility that tapping it will make it go fullscreen. But how would you know this if you don't own a touch device yourself.

The lesson, of course, is that developers should not assume anything. Equally important is to not insult the intelligence of the audience – a tough balance to achieve.

This is one of the reasons that simplified digital products are often praised. Marco Arment's new digital magazine, for instance, has gotten boat loads of positive press for its stripped down approach. I, too, am impressed. But unlike other media observers, I do not believe that this approach is the future of digital publishing. In fact, I strongly believe it is not. It is simply one approach. Other publications will need to use all the bells and whistles available if they are to produce effective digital magazines. (Many magazines would benefit from animation and videos that show the reader how to cook, build, operate or fix something. Why return to plain text when the tools are there to better communicate with the reader?)

But we are not yet at the stage where the majority of potential readers out there will be guaranteed to be comfortable with apps on smartphones and tablets. Understanding this will help guide the choices made by both editors and art directors alike.

Al Jazeera updates its app for its digital magazine, adding iPhone support, fixing bugs and improving graphics

Last month Al Jazeera Network launched a digital magazine inside the Apple Newsstand. That app for the iPad has sat on my own tablet for awhile now waiting a post but, well, things have been busy.

Today Al Jazeera updated its app to add in support for the iPhone so now is as good a time as any to take a look at the new tablet-only publication.

The update for AJE Magazine adds iPhone support to the previously iPad-only magazine. But, as you can see below-right, while the app update has made it through Apple's system, the actual issues have not yet been released by the developer. Oops.
Photobucket
OK, no big deal, I'm sure they will be there by the end of the day. So let's take this opportunity to look at the digital magazine as it currently exists on the iPad.

Update: It is now late afternoon and I see that the issue is now showing up on my iPhone. It is very much the same as the iPad edition, but the TOC is omitted as it really wouldn't make much sense on the smaller screen.

"I think the inspiration for it really is one, we have a huge amount of content, which can marry very well into the magazine format, because we have an enormous amount of depth and analysis and features, and video content and infographics etc.,” Will Thorne, acting head of online told Journalism.co.uk's Rachel McAthy last month when the original app was released.

"But also there’s, I think, just a way things have gone with the iPad. It’s such a good platform for digital magazines, it works so well in that format, it just seemed like an obvious thing to do, to dive into that market and see what we could produce."

"I think that will move over time to be honest. I think as we get up ahead of steam and learn from the first edition and hopefully build the editorial team, I think we'll probably try to get more original content in and reversion a little less from the web," Thorne said. "But I think for the magazine to stand out and be something people want to go to I think it's got to retain a fairly high level of original content."
Photobucket
The digital magazine takes advantage of the network's video content, but limits the size of the issues inside the app by limiting the layouts to portrait, and by not embedding the video. Instead, tapping the video icon opens up a new window where the video exists online.

While this saves space on the reader's iPad, and limits the amount of streaming and server storage needed from the publisher, it does mean that the fully enjoy the issue on will need to be connected to the Internet. You won't be reading this digital magazine on a flight (and knowing the craziness of some Americans, I'm sorry to say that you probably wouldn't want to be caught reading AJE on a flight anyways, such is life in the U.S. today).

In the future, when WiFi is ubiquitous this wouldn't be a problem, but should they take this route today? If there is a lot of video content I would probably say that this is the right way to go.

The app update also fixes some bugs and some scrolling issues that apparently existed in the original release. It also improves the resolution of the graphics and text, according to the app description.

Here is a brief walk-through the latest issue as it appears on the iPad. I will be curious to see what the design looks like on the iPhone:


The Washington Post updates its WP Politics iPad app to add in comments and user issue positions

The Washington Post's election app, WP Politics, just kees getting better and better – which is more than can be said for the paper itself. While columnists like Jennifer Rubin have become Internet memes (never a good thing), the iPad app shows what can be done when a very good developer is employed.

In this case, the developer is Bottle Rocket, the developer of plenty of very good apps inside the App Store.

Today the app was updated to add in the ability to read and post comments, a feature that honestly should have been there all along. The update also adds some important customization tools, including the ability to map your own positions so that you can compare them to the candidates.

Another new feature is one I have my doubts about: "Founding Fathers" uses the work of historian Jake Rakove to map the positions of people long dead – whatever.

The app description also notes that while users can share their election predictions using Twitter and email, it apologizes for the fact that you can't use Facebook. Presumably this will be added later.

The app is a really good one, and one that is solely supported by advertising. If the same app was from the NYT one would guess that they would want it to be accessible only to those with some level of paid digital subscription. Here, of course, it is free.

Apps like this one, though, can definitely be used to justify a paid subscription – even if that subscription is nominal. Here is where I turn into a paywall advocate: offer your readers lots of features and continuously new applications and readers can justify paying. Continue to deliver content that has them laughing in the aisles and you'll have a tough time justifying building a wall.
PhotobucketPhotobucket

U.K. publishing trade journal InPublishing uses the 'reader' approach to its tablet edition; readers must be registered in order to access the digital editions inside the iPad app

There are several ways B2B publishers can approach the problem of being a qualified readership magazine when launching a tablet edition. One solution is to give the issues away to everyone; another is to charge new readers while allowing current print readers to access the issues by signing in (though this may run afoul of Apple rules); and finally the last way is to launch a 'reader' app which only allows current readers to access the digital edition.

That last way to handling digital readership is rarely used by publishers who are very concerned about getting people to download and use their new apps.
Photobucket
One publisher, though, that is trying this approach is the U.K. trade journal InPublishing. The app description for InPublishing Magazine makes it very clear that the app ONLY (their caps) works if you are already registered with the publisher. Registration is free, but the new reader must complete the qualification questions to get in their system.

The reason this kind of app is called a 'reader' app is to differentiate it from a subscription app where the reader can sign up directly through the app. Apple doesn't allow for registrations directly through an app, one must either sell a subscription or else create a reader app.

Many other media apps have tried the reader approach such as Netflix, but eventually most decide to change their apps to allow for in-app purchases. The reason for this, or course, is that the goal is new paid users.

But many B2B publishers aren't after paid subscribers, they want qualified readers. So a 'reader app' approach has merits.

In the case of InPublishing, once the reader has signed into their accounts they can then access all the available issues free of charge – the magazine is a six-time a year publication.

Sadly, the digital issues here are replicas of the print edition – another example of the publishing trade being a behind the industry instead of leading it. But at least they have an app, something that can't be said for their U.S. counterparts.

(The magazine is also available for reading on the magazine's website through Flash flipbooks built by Yudu Media. No doubt Yudu is also responsible for the iPad app, as well – though I could find no vendor branding on the app itself.)

PhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucket

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Update: Circa News works outs some of its app problems, new iPhone news app now functioning for most users

The much hyped new news app, Circa News, appears to be functioning now, so those interesting in taking a look may want to do so before the app begins crashing again.

Both the WSJ and TechCrunch hyped the app yesterday before its launch, a sign that the well funded start-up is pretty damn good at selling itself. Unfortunately, the app was a crashing mess when launched, but that may had less to do with the app and more to do with the back end servers.
Photobucket
Because today the app is now functioning as it was envisioned without the need for an app update.

The basic idea of Circa News is a bit like that used during USA Today's launch many moons ago – reducing down the news into bite sized chunks. Except now the chunks are smaller, of course.

I'm not a big believer in the concept. In fact, I'd go so far as to say my hype senses have been triggered by this one.

But I will say that I really like the look and feel of this app. The design and navigation is very nice indeed.

So far the app has gotten mostly negative reviews, but that is to be expected for an app that crashes frequently. But the most recent reviews are much better, though I think the more thoughtful reviews have legitimate criticism of the concept.

"Circa is a very good and well-made app," writes one iTunes reviewer. "But I do have one complaint. When you're reading each new story entry, they go in reverse chronological order. That means you're reading the latest developments before you see the beginning."

Yep, that whole idea of a lede may still have merits.

One memo, which in a nutshell, summarizes why I'm a 'digital first' skeptic

I
often get asked why I am so down on the 'digital first' crowd. I answer that there are two reasons: one, I don't believe in 'digital first' I believe in publishing, there is a difference*; and two, I see 'digital first' mostly as an excuse for either cost cutting or rearranging the chairs, it rarely actually leads to anything new launching.

This memo, which we have MediaBistro to thank for first publishing, is a great example. Fishbowl DC's Betsy Rothstein sees the news as the exit of Ed Kelley – and from a news perspective she is right. But I see it as another example of someone using 'digital first' without in any way mentioning any meaningful new digital initiatives. It's become such a meaningless slogan, a cliché, that the sooner the term disappears the better.

Read the memo and tell me what their 'digital first' initiatives are:
Dear TWT Colleagues:

I wanted to share with you some early decisions we have made as we embark on an ambitious new strategy to reach profitability by transforming The Washington Times daily print edition in the nation’s capital, expanding our digital-first publishing capabilities, and growing our audience nationwide in all mediums.


I have formed a new senior leadership team to work directly with me in seizing the opportunities that await us. Some of the people will, of course, be familiar to you but their roles and responsibilities are adapting to address the challenges we face as we build the right suite of 21st century products for our audience. I’ve been fortunate to be involved in media companies that have transformed themselves, and I am confident we have the right team for the mission here at The Washington Times.

First, I have asked John Martin to serve in the role of Chief Operating Officer overseeing all technology, logistics, and operations of the company. Keith Cooperrider will reprise his role as Chief Financial Officer, responsible for managing the day-to-day finances for our company. Tom Culligan, who like me has worked previously as a publisher in a rapidly changing news industry, will remain as the Chief Revenue and Marketing Officer responsible for rapidly generating the new revenues we need to close our operating gap.

John, Keith and Tom have been an integral part of the team that helped our new chairman, Tom McDevitt, set The Times on this course after its 2010 sale to the current owners.

As part of these changes, Ed Kelley is stepping down to pursue other opportunities, and we have already begun a search for a new executive editor. I expect to name a replacement shortly. When that happens, I will be asking the new executive editor and Brett Decker to join an expanded leadership team, recognizing that news and opinion are the double-barreled engines that drive our audience each day. In the interim, the newsroom will report to Managing Editor Chris Dolan.

I know you will join me in wishing Ed well in his future endeavors and in embracing the new opportunities that await all of us at every level of the company. Becoming a digital-first, profitable media company with a flagship print edition in the nation’s capital will be an exciting and rewarding opportunity for all who seize the day.

Kind Regards,

Larry Beasley
As of today, The Washington Times has exactly zero mobile and tablet apps inside the App Store.

In fact, this company is so 'digital first' that it has allowed a third party to launch a paid iPhone app that takes both the newspaper's brand name and its content.

Well done, guys.

* Publishing first, as opposed to 'digital first' means that the goal is creating content for publishing products, no matter whether they are print or digital. But it also means having those products. Most 'digital first' advocates miss that last part and see the web as the end all and be all of digital publishing. It's not, its simply one platform.

Microsoft's Surface pricing will put the emphasis on build and system quality; is there room for a 3rd platform?

Those consumers who hoped Microsoft would follow Amazon and attempt to force their way into the market by selling their new Surface tablet at cost will not be thrilled with the company's announced pricing.

Starting at $499, the same entry point as the new iPad, Surface with Windows RT, will not be undercutting Apple. The 32 GB model with the Touch Cover is priced at $599, with the Surface Type Cover is another $129.99. The 64 GB model comes automatically with the Touch Cover and is priced at $699.99.

For hardware makers, the ability of Apple to control their costs and offer hardware at very competitive prices is making it difficult on manufacturers who have become used to being able to use off the shelf components to piece together profitable, if copy cat, electronic products.

Now Microsoft is entering the game and their goal is establishing the Windows platform as the dominate OS, just as it has been on PCs. Good luck with that.

There are three ways the Surface can be the dominate tablet: pricing, build and feature quality, and system quality. Pricing is now out.

That leaves build quality/features and system quality. Microsoft's Surface does appear to have some build advantages such as the integrated kickstand and ports. The Type Cover is also an interested accessory that may, may not, catch on (a physical keyboard will be besides the point on a tablet for many, though a useful tool for others).

That leaves the OS. Many tech writers have been saying that the Windows phone platform is a great alternative for many, yet it continues to have problems gaining traction. Windows for tablets, too, will face a tough consumer market.

The issue of publishers will be developing products for the platform, but history tells us that if the platform proves viable vendors will quick make the necessary adjustments to add support as quickly as they can. Whether it will lead to increase pricing, though, will probably depend on the vendor.



Is there room for a third platform in the tablet market? There wasn't in the PC market, though one of the reasons for this was the dominance of Microsoft Windows.

I have my doubts, but in the end it may not matter. As mentioned above, we'll need to depend on those who sell us digital publishing solutions to solve this problem.

But I have a feeling that if Microsoft can succeed in the tablet space it might bring in a new group of developers who have seen themselves as being somewhat on the sidelines with the growth of iOS and Android.

We may have a better picture of what the market will look like going forward following the holiday shopping season as consumers make their choices: Surface? mini iPad? Kindle Fire? What will you be looking at this holiday season?

A quick guide to understanding the costs of digital publishing solutions; keeping hidden costs to a minimum

Are you one of those people who looks for the best deal when renting a car, then end up wondering why you're paying so much at the end of the trip? Did you get the cheapie car, then pay for navigation, insurance coverage, a baby seat (without, of course, having a child to use it)?

For publishers who can't say no to up charges, agreeing to use a third party vendor to create their mobile and tablet apps can be a nightmare of unexpected charges and needless agony. Publishers need to go into the process knowing what they will need, and what they can expect to pay.

For the big boys, building tablet editions means buying software solutions, hiring developers and production staff and then all the servers solutions necessary. It can be expensive, but in the end the big publisher has now transformed their company into an app making machine. Whether they are actually making money at the new venture may be another question, but they are now in a new ballgame.

For most small to mid-sized publishers, their experience will be different. They will be working with one or more vendors who will be charging them not only for a digital publishing solution, but possibly much more, as well.

Understanding those charges, and understanding what you will need is what this post is about.



Many, if not most digital publishing solutions start with a free plug-in or other publishing solution such as an online system. Unlike the Adobe system, which can cost thousands of dollars in upfront costs, most other vendors let you in the door without a cover price.

The nice thing about this is that the publisher's team can play around with the digital publishing solution to see if it will meet their needs. I often ask publishers if members of their production staff have been playing around with either Mag+ or Aquafadas – it is the best first question because the answer often tells me a lot about the state of digital publishing at their firms.

The most common add-on charge that a vendor will charge for is to remove their branding – the logos that will appear on the app that promote their brand, not the publisher's. Getting rid of branding can cost up to a $1000 in some systems, though this charge is generally added onto the vendor's free or inexpensive publishing option.

The more you are willing to pay to launch an app, the less branding you will be forced to live with.

Another big consideration is whether the new app will appear in the App Store under the publisher's name as the seller, or under the name of the vendor. It is a sore point with me that so many publishers are willing to see their magazines enter the App Store under the name of a third party. The publisher pays the bills, hire and fires, but then is willing to give away their product to a vendor so easily. Why?
Photobucket
In order to have an app appear in Apple's App Store one needs their own developer account. It is an incredibly easy process which only costs $99 per year. Any publisher without their own developer account this late into the game really needs to have their heads examined. If that is you, fix this, today. (Start here.)

The two most important costs, after the publishing solution and branding, is probably server storage and analytics. You've built the app using their solution, but now that your app is in the App Store the issues will have to be served to your readers. Server costs are determined by the amount of space you'll need and often can be a minor cost if your file sizes are reasonable. But if your issues are downloaded thousands of times, which is what you'd like, it will add up.

A vendor that charges $0.16 per gigabyte of storage might cost you $800 a month if your issues are 500 MB in size and 10,000 readers down the issue. A smaller issue, downloaded to only 1,000 readers might result in a charge of just a few dollars. The point is that this is a variable charge, and one you should be budgeting for.

Analytics are a service many vendors don't even offer. Those that do usually charge a flat fee for the service. That charge can be a one time charge (preferable) or a recurring charge. The decision to buy analytics will be up to each publisher and the determining factor may be the quality of the service.

Another charge, and one that many publisher overlook, is subscription verification services. If you currently charge for subscriptions (and remember, many B2B publishers don't) then you will want to decide whether your current print subscribers should receive access to the digital issues free of charge. To do this, you'll need to be able to let those readers sign into their accounts through the app.

Quite a number of publishers have decided to charge everyone simply to avoid this process. But one-star reviews of magazine apps overwhelmingly are caused by print readers upset by the policies of the magazine publisher forcing them to pay for digital.

I may have missed other possible charges, but it seems to be that the additional charges one generally sees after all this are usually tied to technical support and custom design services. These costs are highly variable, and are usually pretty easy to understand.



Publishers continue to look for the holy grail of mobile and tablet app production: a low cost solution with minimal hidden costs.

One rule of thumb to consider is whether it is easy to speak to a representative of the company and have them clearly explain their offerings. Companies that insist on communications only through email or forums are to be avoided. If you wouldn't consider doing business this way, there is no reason for you to have to endure this level of service.

Remember, you are the client. Demand good service and clear, understandable pricing.

Brands get slack from customers for lack of iPhone 5 display support despite updates that improve perfornance

I can sympathize: ready to launch a new version of the TNM mobile app, Apple went and increased the size of the display on the new version of its iPhone, fragmenting the platform in a very Android-like way.

Developers never like getting negative reviews for their apps, but it must be especially tough to take when their apps work fine, but are slightly less than screen size on one device, and users pummel them in the App Store.

Several apps are getting the rough treatment today as users make the demand that they update their apps for the iPhone 5's new screen size. Starbucks, for instance, has issued three updates to their mobile app to make it iOS 6 compliant, work out bugs, and add in support for Apple's new payment app, Passbook.
Photobucket
But the app still displays at less than full screen size on the new iPhone 5 and users are complaining, despite the fact that the works perfectly fine in every other regard.

Another app getting criticism for lack of iPhone 5 display design is Skype. Its main mobile app has just been updated to fix some bugs introduced since the launch of iOS 6. But its lack of display size adjustment for the iPhone 5 is getting serious blowback inside the App Store.

The new iPhone 5's display is 1136-by-640-pixels, where previous models have been 960-by-640. For many apps, the difference is hardly noticeable. A small band of black will appear above and below an app when it has been redesigned for the iPhone 5. In most circumstances it can be ignored.

But users, as developers are discovering, can be a bit unforgiving when they do notice – and no doubt many are scrambling to issue new updates so they don't have to see those one and two star reviews inside the App Store.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Gannett beats income estimates, though publishing ad revenue remains weak, falling 6.6%

The publisher of USA Today and other media properties, Gannett, today announced third quarter earnings that beat analyst estimates (though if anyone still listens to analysts then I have a bridge to sell them). Thanks to strong political advertising and the Olympics, Gannett saw its broadcast revenue rise 36 percent over the same period last year.

Overall, though, revenue only increased 3.4 percent, despite the huge spike in broadcasting. (Gannett stock is down slightly at $17.85 per share in after hours trading.)

Publishing advertising fell an additional 6.6 percent, and while digital rose 4.7 percent, in actual dollars it could not make up the difference. Publishing advertising fell $39 million while digital rose $8 million.

The revenue problems at Gannett newspapers really can't be seen in one quarter's earning statement, however. While the quarter's publishing ad revenue fell to $555 million might represent a decrease of only 6.6 percent, one should go back in time to see the cumulative effect. In 2010, the same category produced $664 million in revenue, while in 2009 Q3 was worth $681 million, in 2008 the number was $977 million, in 2007 it was $1.187 billion.

That means publishing ad revenue is now less than half what it was only five years ago. In the meantime, digital revenue has grown tremendously in terms of percentages. But in terms of real dollars, the $165 million in new digital revenue can not make up for the $635 million in print dollars that are now gone.

On the bright side, I suppose, is the fact that broadcast revenue is up $40 million over the same time period in 2008, another year with both a presidential election and Olympics occurring.

Circa is the "news, reimagined" as a crashing app

The WSJ's AllThingsD gave a new news start up a fair amount of press coverage today for a news app start-up called Circa. They apparently hadn't tested the app themselves.

Circa News is an iPhone app that claims is "news, reimagined". Well, if the future of news is a buggy app that crashes, then the future be damned.

Try as I might, I could not get past the app's start up propaganda. Maybe signing up for the service might help, but the app allows one to proceed with signing up, and I certainly wasn't going to sign up before taking the app for a spin.

The apps says that instead of articles, Circa will be presented the news as a collection of facts, stats, quotes, pictures and the like. They call it "facts, without the fluff." I would call them details, but hey that's just me.

The editorial team listed on the Circa website, when investigated, appears to not really be employed by Circa – or if they are, they are keeping it secret.

But investigation is not what Circa is supposed to be about, it's about aggregation. Since the app doesn't currently work, or at least it didn't for me, despite several reinstalls (see the video for the nice crash at the end), it is hard for me to tell whether they are any good at it.

What Circa does appear good at is getting attention and investors (kind of like OnSwipe). We'll have to wait until the app update to see if they can make it work.

The Food Network launches its own special topic digital magazine into the Newsstand: Food Network Favorites

The Food Network has launched a new digital magazine, if that is the right term, into the Apple Newsstand. The digital publications is called Food Network Favorites, and its first digital edition features soup recipes.

The Food Network is, of course, a highly successful cable television channel that is owned mostly by Scripps Networks Interactive, with the Tribune Company in as a minority stake holder. In addition to the Food Network channel itself, the entity also has sister channels such as the Cooking Channle, DIY Network, HGTVDiscovery Channel and others.

Hearst Communications publishes a magazine of the same name in partnership with the Food Network, and has an iPad edition inside the Apple Newsstand for that title.

But this new digital publication is coming directly from Television Food Network G.P., as it is known inside the App Store. Three other apps exists from this seller, including Food Network On the Road, Food Network Cupcakes! and Food Network In the Kitchen.

(The Food Network is not an aggressive developer of Android apps. The only app currently inside Google Play is a version of In the Kitchen last updated in November of 2010.)

One would expect that an app from a television network would be stuffed with video content, but that is not the case here. Instead, the app is designed as a digital magazine, or rather a one-off special issue one might find from a publisher on a newsstand. This issue is all about soups, the next promises to be about cookies.
Photobucket
The design of the digital edition is simple enough: standard pages with buttons for recipes and tips. The tips are not very helpful, and the pop-up recipes not very imaginatively rendered.

Because the issue is designed for portrait only, the publication won't be very easy to use while cooking as most iPad covers hold their tablets in landscape.

Individual issues are available for $2.99 each, with a 3 month subscription priced at $3.99 and an annual subscription priced at $9.99. Because the issues are to be published every two months, the three month subscription price is set to guarantee the reader two issues.

The Globe and Mail announces metered paywall; use "me-too" rationale for decision, readers react as expected

Canada's largest national newspaper, The Globe and Mail, today announced that they will be launching a metered paywall starting on October 22.

The move is not unexpected, and the reasons used by the editor John Stackhouse are typical of papers going behind a paywall: everybody is doing it.

The Globe and Mail, only second behind the Toronto Star for largest circulation in Canada, is often referred to as Canada's paper of record. Because of this, it has a decent chance to succeed with its paywall. But readers are reacting very negatively to the news, with well over a thousand comments posted to date, very few of which are positive, or even sympathetic to the move.

"Some of the world’s largest and most respected media outlets have successfully introduced a similar model, and we look forward to the benefits it will enable us to deliver to our readers and advertisers," said Phillip Crawley, publisher of The Globe and Mail.

The paper in their own news report on the move, quotes Barclays analyst Kannan Venkateshwar as stating that the "increase in circulation revenues from the company’s digital paywall is now meaningful enough to offset the decline in print advertising."

(Like most analysts, Venkateshwar doesn't know what he is talking about as this simply has not been the case as even papers showing increases in digital circulation revenue are still showing overall decreases in revenue overall. But the financial community is pushing hard on getting papers to build paywalls, so his quote shouldn't come as a surprise.)

The paper, in its videos and own news story, are pointing to other paper's experience with paywalls in justifying its more. The editor, John Stackhouse, mentioned the NYT and WSJ, as well as papers in Germany. The story, written by media reporter Steve Ladurantaye, also mentions the Postmedia Network, quoting their CEO Paul Godfrey as saying "You can’t spend millions of dollars on content and just give it away."

The Globe and Mail's new plan will be called Globe Unlimited and will cost readers $19.99 (CAD) a month after a one month trial of 99 cents. Casual readers will be able to access ten articles a month free of charge before running into the paywall.

Like most paywalls, savvy web users will likely be able to bypass the paywall through direct links derived from search engines and social media.

So far the story on the Globe's site has generated over 1,400 comments, a huge number by the paper's standards. While the vast majority of readers are claiming that they no longer will be reading the paper online, two other opinions are also being heard. One group of readers are lamenting the fact that a paywall will limit the conversations between readers seen in the current website. Another is that the website will no become more of a club, which they see as a positive (out with the rabble!)



My position on paywalls has still not changed since the launch of TNM: I think they are a pretty safe bet when used on the websites of financial newspapers where the reader has a financial stake in the news and information contained on that site, and where the expense can often be written off; a bit less of a good bet on big national newspapers, but still likely to succeed; a bad bet where readers do not feel the news is vital to them such as metro and local papers.

Nothing in the numbers I've seen seem to contradict this: the WSJ and Financial Times are doing well with their paywall strategies, and the NYT is being marginally successful. Other papers have claimed success, but often their own measurements show that while they are experiencing some increase in circulation revenues, the growth is not compensating for continued declines in ad dollars.

Many newspaper executives are hoping their paid circulation efforts will help them avoid their real problems, declining ad revenue. Many digital first and paid content advocates have gone so far as to proclaim that paywalls might lead to their papers ending their dependence on advertising altogether. Layoffs generally ensure.

Two local L.A. Times group newspapers release separate news reader apps for the iPad and iPhone built by Toura

Two Southern Calfornia newspapers owned by The Los Angeles Times (and therefore, The Tribune Company) today released their first news apps for the iPad and iPhone.

The Daily Pilot of iPad and The Glendale News-Press for iPad were built by Toura, a New York developer, as were their iPhone equivalents, The Daily Pilot and The Glendale News-Press.

Why they are separate apps is a mystery as both versions of the apps are simply RSS readers that any high school programmer could probably build with a rudimentary knowledge of Xcode. Had these apps been released in April of 2010, when the iPad was first launched, they would have been appropriate. But released today, they simply seem outdated.

Neither app requires a subscription to access the content, which is extremely limited in any case (ten articles per section, four sections plus an About Us and Contact tab.
Photobucket
These news apps lack the one advantage local newspapers still have over many of their big regional counterparts: local advertising. Neither of the four apps released today contain local real estate advertising or features, nor do they have geolocation features that might take advantage of the needs of local retailers.

I am a big advocate of decentralized decision making when it comes to mobile and tablet product launches. There is a serious need for experimentation. But it is equally important for large media companies to be offering help to their local properties, as well. Apps that don't generate new subscription revenue or support local ad sales efforts are really a waste of time and money. Unless, of course, these newspapers are running counter to revenue and profit trends, it's hard to see how these kinds of simple RSS driven news apps have much of a future.

Magzter issues updates to its previously released iPad editions; NewspaperDirect updates its own newsstand universal iOS app

It's not just individual developers that have to issue updates when a new OS is released. Newsstand developers, too, need to issue updates – but in this case, to a whole catalog of apps.

Over the past few days Magzter has been issuing lots of updated apps to make them compliant with iOS 6 and to fix bugs, in general.

One the apps updated is Columbia Journalism Review. The fact that the CJR would have chosen to go with a replica maker shouldn't surprise anyone. American journalism has been unimaginative and cheap for years, no reason for a magazine that represents the industry to do any different.

I suppose one should give the team there at least a little credit for doing something on tablets as you won't find any of the magazine trade industry magazines following suit.

These are dark days for the B2B industry in the U.S.



NewspaperDirect issued an update this morning for its own PressReader universal app.

NewspaperDirect has been issuing branded apps for its newspaper clients, but its own app gathers over 2,200 newspapers into a digital newsstand.

Unlike other newsstand apps, however, the NewspaperDirect app offers the reader a better reading experience than the simply replica approach followed by other newsstands (Next Issue being an exception, as well).



Apple pretty consistently promotes media apps – and apps, in general. Each category has a select group of apps highlighted on top of the pages in iTunes.

But Apple also gathers together apps into special units occasionally to help newbies download apps that will make their iPhone or iPad experience better.

One of these collections is the Apps Starter Kit for the iPad, and it is always interesting to see what Apple includes. There are 30 apps in total including two newspapers: the NYTimes for iPad and The Daily.

Many of the apps are Apple's own, but also here is Amazon's branded app. Social media apps from Twitter (which is terrible) and Facebook (which is OK) are here, as well.

The same collection for the iPhone is very similar, though The Daily is missing, as you'd expect. Instead, the collection leans more towards activity apps such as Nike+ Running and Taxi Magic.

Missing from both collections are any magazine apps, possibly due to the sheer number of them, I suppose.