Friday, April 5, 2013

Le Monde launches a new iPad app for its newspaper archives, extending the benefits of a digital subscription

Newspapers are, in my opinion, poor vehicles for forcing readers to pay for digital subscriptions. The problem, as I see it, is that newspaper publishers are not natural product launchers – something that is vital in a world where new media products appear daily. To make a reader feel that their digital subscription is worth paying for the product has to be seen as vital – such as a financial newspaper – or else that the benefits continue to increase over time, reinforcing the original decision to buy the digital subscription.

So, if launching new digital products can, in theory, drive digital subscriptions, what should a newspaper launch? Well, thank God for those archives – a treasure trove of material waiting for a new home.

Le Monde, the Paris-based newspaper launched December 1944, has released a new tablet app called Le Monde Archives. The app is now the seventh app for the iPad from the paper, and a sure sign that the paper wants to succeed in this new space. The app is free, though once installed you will need to log-in to access the contents.

Le Monde, early last month, launched a special section app following the death of Stéphane Hessel called Hessel, L'éternal indigné (see original TNM post here) – that app was a paid app, $6.99 US, and so did not extend the benefits of a digital subscription.

Le Monde is currently enticing readers to sign up by offering a digital subscription for only 1 euro a month for the first month, with the regular rate of 15 euros a month after that, renewable in three months increments. Being able to offer side benefits, such as access to special tablet or mobile apps makes good marketing sense.

The only paper in the U.S. that seems to be doing something similar to Le Monde's strategy with tablet editions is the Chicago Sun-Times (the Chicago Tribune, too, was building tablet magazines, but seems to have quickly reversed itself), while The Boston Globe has been busy publishing eBooks (see this interview with Jeff Moriarty, Vice President, Digital Products at the Globe). If Advance Publications really were serious about being digitally-focused, something they always say as they announce cutbacks in print schedules and staffing, they would be announcing new digital products, as well.