Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Morning Brief: Sun-Times updates new Sunday 'Sport' magazine to add iPhone edition; Kobo updates its iOS eBook app; a reader comment on FutureFolio

A rather wide range of media app updates were released last night. One of those was for Sport by Chicago Sun-Times, the new Sunday digital magazine from the metro paper.

The Sun-Times has been using Mag+ to build tablet magazines for its coverage of local sports teams and launched Sport earlier this month as a weekly review of all the Chicago team activity. Today the update adds support for the iPhone, the first of the Sun-Times tab editions to do so.

I'm a little torn by the idea of building products like this for the iPhone. The good news is that platforms such as Mag+ and others makes the process fairly easy and the end product is attractive and usually easy to read – one look at BJPhoto: iPhone Edition, the iPhone version of the British Journal of Photography is enough to prove that a digital publication can work on an iPhone.

But do readers want to sit back in their chairs on a Sunday and read a digital publication? (My daughter does, so maybe the answer is "yes" for her and "no" for me.) Is the run of "reach the reader on whatever device they own" an absolute? That philosophy sounds good the first time you hear it from some media executive at a conference, but being a cynical media pro I have my doubts.

Doubts about ubiquitous media products aside, what the Sun-Times is doing is pretty impressive – even more so when one sees that their competitors at the Tribune Company have actually pulled some of their tablet magazine apps.

The eBook reader app, Kobo Books, has been updated today.

Toronto-based Kobo is an interesting company to watch. Kobo, if you recall, signed up Borders to become their eBook partner, but Borders collapsed, leaving Kobo without a major retail book partner. But the company then proceeded to acquire the French digital publishing platform Aquafadas. For many media observers both companies remain under the radar, but I find the combined companies very interesting – imagine if Amazon partnered directly with Adobe, what would reporters say about that?

The result so far has been updates – the latest being 2.6 – to the Aquafadas platform centered on ePub3.

Today's update to the eBook reading app for iOS brings in a redesigned tablet of contents and annotations pages for iPhone, other enhancements, and, of course, bug fixes.

Yesterday TNM linked back to a story concerning Future PLC that was posted to the website. I got a surprising amount of feedback on my own "Retweet" post about the sales figures being reported by the company's chief executive Mark Wood. I also mentioned that one of the things that sets Future about is the use of their own digital publishing platform, FutureFolio.

This morning Konstantinos Antonopoulos from Greek publisher Lambrakis Press commented on his own experience with FutureFolio by attaching a comment to the original story.

Lambrakis, if you recall, launched their first natively designed tablet edition in December, ΜΟΥΣΑ (Mousa) which is the Greek edition of Marie Claire.

Here is the comment promoted to the home page so readers won't miss it:
Konstantinos said...

I am currently test-driving FutureFolio's tablet publishing software and I have to say that it is one of the most full-featured programs for the job.

It is different, as it works in iOS simulator, which gives it a fantastic preview. I am still getting the hang of it (and try to work with Greek text, which is a challenge), but so far it feels great.

Total Film magazine and, especially, Football Week are showing-off its abilities in the best way.