Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The stand-alone magazine app is not dead quite yet as a small number of publishers continue to launch their apps outside the Apple Newsstand

For most magazine publishers the Apple Newsstand seems like the logical place to launch their tablet editions, and often is the first choice, with other digital newsstand like Google Play and Amazon (and others) considered secondary choices. But for a number of reasons, some magazine publishers are still choosing to launch their digital magazines as stand-alone apps inside the App Store. Cost, especially if they are using Adobe, is one reason. Marketing can be another.

Greek publisher Lambrakis Press S.A. continues to publish stand-alone apps for its Greek edition of Marie Claire. ΜΟΥΣΑ #3, as its name implies, is the third such stand-alone app, with the publishing cycle appearing to be somewhat quarterly.

The app is a fantastic digital edition, with issues quite large due to their animation and video. The downloads are excruciatingly slow, but since it is a stand-alone app the wait is all on the front end.

One gets a sense that this tablet edition remains an experiment as the issues continue to be free and there is no set publication schedule. With the Greek economy in shambles, it is probably a bit of a minor miracle that a digital edition this good is being produced at all.

Here is a brief look at the latest installment:

It is a bit hard to figure out what Turnstile Media Group is trying to do with its title Golfweek. It's newest app, Golf Week Mag is a replica edition and a stand-alone app, a combination that is really quite rare.

The reason it is so rare is that if a replica edition is the goal there are an enormous number of vendors that will put your magazine title into the Newsstand at next to no cost. Some charge small fees, others are charging download fees, while still others are completely free but want a share of the revenue.

Golf Week's new app is functional, bug free, but utterly unreadable as all replica editions are. I suppose it is possible that this app could be made into a native tablet edition, and eventually moved into the Newsstand (as other publishers have done). But in the meantime this new app seems to me like a waste of time.

It is totally understandable that launching a native tablet edition for a weekly might be a burden and impractical at this time – and because of this a replica edition may be the solution of choice. But forcing readers to remember to download their issues each week really seems a terrible idea.

Turnstile Media Group seems to still be experimenting with the whole concept of digital editions. It still has a stand-alone app inside the App Store Golfweek for iPad which was originally launched back in March of 2011 – a million years ago in terms of the tablet publishing platform. But even in 2011 readers found it rather crude. "Expected much better. Very elementary design. Maybe it will get better but simply bad right now," wrote an early review.

Unfortunately, while the app has been regularly updated, it hasn't proven to be very popular. So the launching a new edition makes sense, but the publisher now finds themselves still with a rather outdated looking app that is not even capable of selling digital subscriptions.