Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Morning Brief: Emmis updates its apps for their regional magazines; Vine keeps trying to improve the experience, issues 4th update for video sharing app; the USPS to announce end of Saturday delivery of mail today

Yesterday's Morning Brief mentioned that a number of media apps were rushing out updates due to the recent release of iOS 6.1 by Apple. Those apps showed that some readers were encountering bugs that needed to be fixed, and hence the updates.

Today Emmis Communications, the city/regional magazine publisher (and broadcaster) today released app updates for its six magazine apps and again the excuse was iOS 6.1. But where the readers of the magazine apps updated yesterday were clamoring for the updates, these apps seem to have been launched and then disappeared in the App Store – few have any reviews at all, and those that do are generally negative. The problem appears to be that these apps are all replica editions, hard to read, exactly like the print editions, and force current subscribers to pay again for their magazines.

The problem with the strategy of forcing all readers to pay for digital is that it only works when the digital product is worth paying for. Hearst Magazines, for instance, gets negative reviews for its digital editions, too. But the digital editions are worth buying and so the reader is forced to make a choice: keep buying print or move to digital.

Here, with these apps – Texas Monthly, Los Angeles Magazine, Indianapolis Monthly, Cincinnati Magazine, Atlanta Magazine and Orange Coast Magazine – what you are seeing is that readers are avoiding paying for the digital edition again simply because it doesn't offer them anything they can't get in print (in fact, the experience is not as good as print). The lesson is clear: if you want to drive readers to digital you have to offer them a product designed for the reading device. If you are only offering them a replica, then don't make the print readers pay again.

If at first you don't succeed...

You have to hand it to the Twitter team, they are working hard to make sure their Vine app works and keeps customers using it. Today the app, Vine - Make a Scene, received yet another app update.

The new update is the forth since the app's launch on January 23 – that's more than one update per week. The app upon release was a disaster, crashing upon attempting to log-in. But the first app update fixed a lot of the problems and the development team has been updating the app to fix other bugs at a quick pace.

As a result, the negative reviews are going away and now the app has turned a corner and is getting universally positive reviews. Will this lead to the app catching on? I don't know, as I've yet to feel the urge to use the app. But at least I now know it will work properly. It certainly helps to have an in-house team of developers, right?

The U.S. Postal Service will announce officially today that they will be ending Saturday delivery of the mail in an attempt to save about $2 billion a year in costs. The USPS will still deliver packages on Saturday, however, to attempt to remain competitive with the other package delivery services. The change is expected to become effective August 1.

"The Postal Service is advancing an important new approach to delivery that reflects the strong growth of our package business and responds to the financial realities resulting from America's changing mailing habits," said Patrick R. Donahoe, postmaster general and CEO in a statement obtained by the Huffington Post. "We developed this approach by working with our customers to understand their delivery needs and by identifying creative ways to generate significant cost savings."

"It's a proper business decision and (in the) long run, good for the Postal Service and good for Americans," Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla. told CBS News.