Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Tribune Interactive releases a subscription-only replica edition app from Olive Software for the Chicago Tribune

Seven months ago both the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times launched competing tablet magazines for their coverage of the local football team. Both papers were, it seemed at the time, committing to native digital platforms, and eager to duke it out inside the Apple Newsstand.

But things changed in a hurry: today the Tribune is on the shopping block, and the digital team has pulled all but one of its native tablet editions out of the Newsstand. Spending money on new digital publications, or even ones that support their print ones, will be for a new owner to deal with.

Today Tribune Interactive released a replica edition app, Chicago Tribune -- Digital Edition for iPad, that was made by Olive Software. It's a head scratching move, and one that simply wouldn't be made by any digital media executive concerned the future – with the place up for sale who really knows what happens next.

The app is completely locked down: someone who downloads the app can not buy anything through it, one needs to be an existing print or digital subscriber (DigitalPlus is $14.99 a month).

The app is horribly old fashioned looking, which is saying something considering that the entire tablet publishing platform is only three years old. In other words, the app looks like one of those websites one can see when browsing around in the Wayback Machine.

Combined with the news that the ABM is merging into the division of another association, the release of this app makes for a truly depressing day. If there are any employees left at Tribune Interactive I wish them the best of luck, truly.