Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Elkhart newspaper launches a tablet edition into the Apple App Store for their special section on local businesses

Three years ago today, a Saturday, Apple delivered the first iPads to those who had pre-ordered them via UPS. As thousands of buyers waited patiently for the UPS truck to pull up to their driveways, Apple released into the new iPad App Store the first new apps.

The first media app looked at here at TNM was, not surprisingly, from The New York Times. My post said that the app looked like a temporary solution.

"There is no question that the Times app is gorgeous to look at -- but even TalkingNewMedia looks great on an iPad! The glossy scene displays rich colors; the text is sharp and easy to read; and the whites are white, the blacks black (news photographers are going to absolutely love the way their images look)," I wrote on that launch day.

Here we are three years later and the Times app has added more content but has not evolved in any serious way, and the NYT has yet to really commit to tablets (and mobile, for that matter) as a serious platform for new product launches. But that has not stopped other newspapers, and media companies, in general, from committing to the tablet platform.

A great example of that might be this new app from The Elkhart Truth, from the family owned media company Federated Media. The company has just released its first tablet edition as a stand-alone app into the Apple App Store, Business and Industry 2013.

The iPad app looks to me to have used the Adobe DPS to create the tablet edition of the print special section. But unlike magazines that use this (which can easily fit in the full page ads into the tablet app, then reformat the editorial), local newspapers have to deal with all those small, modular advertisements. What to do with these in a tablet edition? Dump them? Gather them together on single pages? or blow them up to full page?

The Elkhart Truth solves the ad problem very simply by including them in the articles as if this still were print. The black and white ads look a bit odd compared to the advertising seen in most tablet editions, but I think it works. I'd go further, I see no reason why local papers that are experimenting with tablet editions couldn't duplicate the approach here.

The app was created by the newspaper's creative services department, and while it might, at first, appear rather rudimentary, the app uses many of the common features seen in tablet editions: scrolling with stories, swiping to the next, pop-up captions on photos, and even video links in ads.

The section represented here is the kind of business round-up many local papers like to produce on an annual basis. The section not only serves as a way of promoting the city, but local businesses often make a habit of advertising in the section, much as they would in the Yellow Pages (at least, they used to). Because of this, the publisher has chosen to not charge for the app or its contents.

But these sections will have to evolve in order to survive. This first effort from the paper in Elkhart, Indiana is a great example of one way to do this - and apparently it won't be the last app we see from this publisher as the last page of the tablet edition says to "Look for these upcoming Digital Magazines: Home Projects, Healthy Living. Watch for details and publication dates."