Friday, April 19, 2013

Morning Brief: La Presse+ garners very positive reviews from readers inside the App Store; Microsoft confirms future launch of smaller Surface tablets

One can measure the news cycle simply by glancing at the traffic reports here at TNM. On normal days with the usual flow of news traffic is consistent and, thank goodness, continues to grow (thank you). But on weeks like this one, with major stories popping up continuously traffic slips back as many publishings pros, who are likely to be news junkies like me, stay away from industry sites to concentrate on the news.

And what a week it's been: the Boston Marathon bombing, the media frenzy that followed, CNN and the NY Post disgrace themselves, today's news that one of the suspects is dead... Oh, there was that explosion in Texas, a news story that would have normally led the news for a few days, but can't even be found right now on the NYT's home page.

So I was curious how much press the launch of the new tablet app for the Québnec daily La Presse would receive. As I wrote yesterday, "if I worked at La Presse I'd be very proud of the paper this morning, and more than a little encouraged that the paper was on the right track." That's about as much praise as I could ever offer.

But La Presse is, obviously, a French language newspaper, it's Canadian, and it's, well, a newspaper. Did anyone notice that such an important new news app was released?

To be honest, I sacrificed my website traffic by keeping my own post on La Presse+ for much of the day – again, a sign that I considered that post very important.

Not surprisingly, there are no reviews of the app in the U.S. App Store. I would think that any Québécois living in the U.S. would probably maintain a Canadian App Store account, meaning they would not be allowed to review an app inside the U.S. App Store.

So what do Canadian's think? Well, they are responding in large numbers I am happy to report and the reviews, all in French, are almost entirely raves. As is the case where I see almost all five-star reviews I end up curious what the one-star reviewers might be complaining about.

One dissatisfied reviewer was not happy about the lack of an International news section, while another complained that developers ignore owners of first generation iPad devices – inferring, not actually saying that the app may be perform as well on an older iPad. Another complained that there was no iPhone version.

To me, each of these were "it's great, but..." reviews. The kind of complaints that say you're on the right track.

The coverage of the app release by the media, though, was disappointing. The Globe and Mail ran a piece that obviously was written before the actual app release, as was The Canadian Press story. The WSJ ran the La Presse press release.

None of the reports actually showed screenshots of the app.

If La Presse+ turns out to be a success, it will most likely remain under the radar of most of the newspaper and trade press for awhile.

Apple is giving the new La Presse+ app some love inside the App Store as it is being prominently featured in the News category as well as in the Newsstand category of the App Store.

Microsoft has confirmed that they will be releasing a smaller version of their Surface tablet. The news came as the giant software company reported pretty decent earnings, with earnings up 18.5 percent. But factoring in the release of a new version of Windows, the earnings report many analysts were said the report was disappointing.

It is difficult for me to judge the level of success of Windows 8. Microsoft has been a marketing juggernaut in the past, but its efforts for Windows 8, and the Surface in particular, have been bizarre. Apparently the Surface is the tablet for people who dance on tables, other than that I have no idea why one would buy one. It's time for a change in agencies and in the marketing department.