Wednesday, February 27, 2013

New Australian digital magazine offers app naming lesson

One of the often overlooked problems for magazine publishers with the Apple App Store is naming their apps. A slip of the finger, a bad decision, and their app is stuck with the wrong name, or worse.

This is especially a problem when a publisher decides to use a third party vendor to create a replica edition. Publishers, eager to see their magazine titles inside the App Store let a vendor create an app for them. Suddenly they see their magazine in the Newsstand, but being sold under the name of the vendor. One publisher told me they received a call from another publisher who was a friend who asked them when they had sold their magazine, and why didn't they call them first.

But even those that are not entirely giving away their titles to third parties occasionally slip up.

About two weeks ago I wrote about a new digital magazine from Australia. Birth Goddess Mag. I pointed out that there was something odd about the name of the app:

"The new digital magazine is published by Australian author Katrina Zaslavsky who publishes a website by the same name. Oddly, the name on the cover of the digital magazine is Empowering Birth Magazine, and this is the way it appears on the Library page, so I think there was probably some confusion inside the developer account."

So what is the name of this digital magazine: Birth Goddess, as it appears in the App Store, or Empowering Birth Magazine, as it appears in the library and on the "cover" of the actual digital magazine.

Today the app received an update with this description of the change: "Corrected name of the application to Empowering Birth Magazine."

Well, that clears it up, right? No. Because of Apple's developer rules, the name of the app remains "Birth Goddess mag", only the other information in the app description has changed. The only way to really fix this is to dump the old app and launch a new one, but readers who have already downloaded the app certainly won't appreciate that.

It is hard to offer advice for publishers when they, themselves, have launched the app incorrectly. But some general rules should probably be followed: never use the name of your magazine or newspaper as the actual name for the app. The New York Times, for instance, named its iPhone app NYTimes. Another idea is to add something to the end of the name, like "XYZ Magazine HD" – the "HD" really means nothing, but it makes the name unique.

And finally, never, ever, ever, let a third party name your app. If a replica maker creates your app and slaps the exact name of the magazine on it, you are pretty much screwed. An example of this is the new app for Edible Marin & Wine Country. The new app is called Edible Marin & Wine Country for iPad and is found inside the Newsstand. But, unfortunately, another app for the same magazine title is also in the store, and its name exactly matches the name of the magazine, Edible Marin & Wine Country, but rather than that app appearing under the name of the publisher, the app appears under the name of the vendor.