Thursday, January 3, 2013

The dangers of outsourcing your media apps apparent in newly released app for Scottish newspaper The Courier

Let's face it, mistakes happen all the time in the newspaper business: the typo that appears on the front page headline, the picture with the wrong caption, it happens. But those mistakes are the responsibility of the newspaper itself and a quick correction is all that is necessary to make things right (hopefully).

But media companies are learning that as they enter into agreements with third party vendors to create their mobile and tablet apps, all sorts of problems arise that are not only preventable, but really inexcusable for a major media outlet.

One of the biggest problems revolves around branding as many vendors slap their own names on the new apps released into Apple's App Store. In exchange for low (or no) costs to the publisher, the vendor often gets the marketing advantages that come with new apps – they often also get a share of the revenue.
These screenshots actually look better here than in iTunes
Preventing this is sometimes as easy as owning your own Apple developer license. My own license, for instance, is coming up for renewal soon and the $99 cost seems like a trifle compared with maintaining the ability to launch products under my own name.

But when using a vendor, sometimes that is still not enough, as evidenced by this newly released app for the Scottish newspaper The Courier – Dundee. Published by DC Thomson & Co., The Courier's new app is one of several in the App Store for the company.

But the company, rather than build for the future by creating their own digital media capabilities, has been outsourcing its app development. Its app for The Scots Magazine, for instance, comes through YUDU.
The new app for The Courier is through PageSuite and it appears that not a lot attention was paid to the quality of either the app icon created or the screenshots submitted to the Apple developer site.

Is this the fault of the publisher or vendor? It is irrelevant. Any publisher not interested in how their publication will look inside the App Store should consider a divestment strategy. Maybe some of these vendors are making enough money to be a bidder for a media property?